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Archive for September, 2009

I have been doing a lot of research about communities lately; currently I am reading Roland S. Barth’s Learning by Heart (2001), which I am enjoying very much. In one section of the book he talks about communities of learners, definitions of what they are, and what influences them in schools. He speaks of school culture and communities of learning being intertwined and I agree with him. I would like to share some thoughts and ask for yours as well.

Learn

Learn

In my experience working in two school districts I believe school culture effects everything that happens in a school and historically school cultures have been very resistant to change of any kind. The only way to change the culture of a school is from within, no easy task, but needed. School culture affects all the learning that takes place, for students as well as adults.

There is lots of talk in schools about Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s), but the more I read about them the more I question if they are true learning communities. In a learning community we make a commitment to one another to learn together over time, we hold one another accountable; we are all responsible for the welfare and well being of the community as a whole. In other words, we care about one another. We celebrate successes, we work together to overcome challenges, we are eager to share and learn from, and with one another because we believe we are smarter and more effective together as a community of learners than we are as individuals.
Please share your thoughts with me; in your school or district do you have true learning communities?

“Schools exist to promote learning in all their inhabitants. Whether we are called teachers, principals, professors, or parents our primary responsibility is to promote learning in others and in ourselves. That is what it means to be an educator”.

How many of you can honestly say this statement would accurately describe the school or district within which you work or teach? I love the sentence, “Promote learning in others and ourselves”.  I am not referring to the mandatory learning that takes place in all schools, the new math program or grading program being implemented this year. What I am referring to is our own learning, something we are interested in and want to learn about.

There is lots of talk in schools about Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s), but the more I read the more I question if they are true learning communities. In a learning community we make a commitment to one another to learn together over time, we hold one another accountable; we are all responsible for the welfare and well being of the community as a whole. In other words, we care about one another. We celebrate successes, we work together to overcome challenges, we are eager to share and learn from, and with one another because we believe we are smarter and more effective together as a community of learners than we are as individuals.
Please share your thoughts with me; in your school or district do you have true learning communities?

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Head Up – Looking Forward

I have been absent for the past few months due to an unexpected change in my life that has taken me some time to get used to. These events have caused me to rethink what to do next in my life, to begin a search for something I felt would be meaningful, challenging, and full of hope. So I have changed the look of my blog, added a new header, a picture of sunrise over Lake Ontario from the back of our camper just this week. Fitting for what I believe to be a new beginning for me.

The circumstances of the past couple of months have pushed me to examine what I wanted to do for some time, but the uncertainty of change held me back. The elimination of my position at the end of the school year allowed me, forced me, to truly think about what I wanted to do next in my life, what I believed in, was interested in, and thought was important.  I believe strongly in public education, in enabling students to be architects of their own learning, and helping those who are charged with “teaching” students to understand why some things we do in the classroom needs to shift directions. I want my grandchildren to have a different educational experience than I did, different from the education my children received. I am happy to say I have found something, which I feel, will fulfill these hopes.

I am working with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson in Powerful Learning Practice helping to shape the development of international communities of teachers participating in cohorts for a year of their own learning. I am excited to have the opportunity to learn with so many and I hope anyone who is interested will join me here on my journey as I share my thoughts and experiences along the way.

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