Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Saying "Yes"

I almost said No.

When Caren Kimbarovsky contacted me about being on a panel to talk about "personalized learning" at the local NICE meeting, I immediately thought - I have so much to do that weekend, and I've already committed to so many things in April. Then came another thought - I don't have school the next day... and I've never been on a panel before.

So I said Yes.

And I LOVED it.

As a connected educator, you get asked to do many things that are not in your normal job description. For the month of April, I was asked to speak at a mini-conference in the AM before an edcamp in the PM, review a book before it comes out, moderate two chats, attend a half-day edcamp, and be on this panel. I said YES to all but one. I'm so glad I was able to be a part of this panel. Check out the participants:
We were given free dinner (Chipotle and cookies!), and a few of us chatted prior to the start of the discussion. My goal was to listen more than I spoke, and that was very easy, as I was in the presence of educators that have done way more than I ever had. I was so eager to learn from them!

I had to share my take-aways (and reminders)...
  • Jon Bergmann shared that the "one thing every teacher can do tomorrow" is something I'm already doing! Video/audio feedback with screencasts for their students! When he started describing this, I practically jumped out of my chair. I'm on the right track!
  • A participant in the audience shared that his students reflect back in the same manner. I know one of my next steps now!
  • We were all reminded, once again, that the tech does not matter - RELATIONSHIPS matter. No idea is right for EVERY student. Some students will still not do the work. TALK with students. Do not let the idea that not every student will work stop you from trying new things in class.
  • "Relevance" is the word I kept thinking of for these two hours. If we continue to make learning relevant to our students, more will step up to the plate to practice and learn the skills.
  • We need to have a common language - and we need to SHARE this with parents and students, so they, too, may advocate for change in education.
  • I am not overwhelmed with "too many things to do." Teachers on this panel seem to be doing even more work than I am - all for the sake of personalizing the learning.

Coming home with the windows down and the radio cranked up, I knew I will continue to say YES to many of these opportunities, as they continue to reinvigorate me. I may not do everything in my class that I'd like to try, but I'm surrounded by others who inspire me to keep on keepin' on!

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