The Mysteries of the Classroom

Teaching…it’s amazing how what works one day will fail dismally the next, while the opposite can hold true at other times. The exponential interactions between the thirty-or-so students in a classroom in any given moment lead to amazing chaos-theory exemplars of human “group-think” that can de- or re-rail a lesson without warning.

I have learnt long ago to stop trying to micro-analyze these situations since as a participant in them I am completely biased and missing a tremendous amount of “background knowledge” about my students’ personal lives, what happened at lunch or over the weekend.

Instead I believe as teachers we are called to act as a “trim tab” to effect micro-change in the learning milieu that is the classroom. When we accept that we are only one human being–albeit one with a legal responsibility to act as the leader of the situation–within a community of learners we are able to instead treat our students in a humane manner that respects their dignity and our own. Respect is earned, but it must be asked for by our actions. If we as teachers fail to demonstrate respect for our students by our behavior in managing our classrooms, how can we ever hope that they will do the same?

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 7, 2011 in Teaching, Learning & Leading


Copyright, Remixing and Professional Practice

Yet again I find myself having to examine my professional practices courtesy of another “TED Talk”.  These macro-idea-saturated videos provides us the opportunity to reconnect with global processes that serve to “re-center” our daily work in the micro environments that are our classrooms, schools and local communities.

Even though Larry Lessig’s video How Creativity is Being Strangled by the Law with the legal issues related to copyright and its remixing, the ideas go far beyond and as an educator you will likely be led to pause to re-examine “what counts” in your work in preparing children for their futures.

The questions that I found myself asking included:

  • what place does knowledge acquisition have in a curriculum that is relevant now that prepares our children for a future that we cannot predict?
  • who “owns” the products that our students create (if they are creating at all; low-level worksheet completion is not creation.)?
  • what value do I as an educator place on the “remixing” of students’ work in my own work; why not mandate these activities in order to establish these skills for my students in a safe environment?
  • how do students and I collaboratively assess “their” remixed work?
  • what changes when I ask the questions above from the perspective of a professional teacher? Should anything change?

What if someone re-purposes some of my archaic, first-generation projects that I have linked at the side of this website? Do I have a say in how it is used? Should I? Why do I even see it as “my project” when I created it with the express purpose of sharing it? Where do these ideas in my mind of “professional ownership” come from? Have I subconsciously been conditioned to view my work as “mine”?

If we are in the service of our children we need to recognize that we are in the “learning, not teaching business” then we must as a profession acknowledge that it is only through our synergistic collaboration that we can hope to meet the diverse needs of the children we serve for a future that we cannot predict.

I suggest that we will need to re-examine “what counts” as “quality learning” in our work, and accept that what we purport the roles of student, teacher, school leader and the broader community to be are what they were.


TED is On!

The 2011 iteration of the TED conference is underway…every year this event provides us with a plethora of amazing “TED Talks” that stretch our minds and preconceptions. Highly recommended…more info at



Online Technology Project Links

Some time ago I created two on-line educational technology projects appropriate for middle school-aged children.  These were the Paper Airplane Competitve AirshowBridge Construction Engineers and Virtual Scientist on Assignment: Food Webs websites.  Check them out in the "links" section or by clicking on the above titles.

As always I am very interested to hear comments about them, although they are quite dated and in need of overhauls.