Shift This.

Here we go!  Brand new school year, brand new blog, getting the brain reengaged. Did it become disengaged just because it was summer?  Probably not. More likely because teachers, kids, and building leadership were out and about.  I figured out that I need them around to help keep me powered.

Did some serious research this morning to find my next new book to read.  The research focused on Amazon and doing a search for Innovator’s Mindset.  Then looking at what other books popped up.  I’ve read a bunch of them already….but not this one.  Shift This by Joy Kirr.  Oh man.  This is why I love my job.  This book.  This gifted educator. Challenging my thinking by 8:00 a.m.

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Check this out.  With 7th graders, she offers this shocker,

“We’ll be questioning authors, questioning one another, and even questioning teachers. I let them know right off the bat that if they don’t think a lesson is relevant, they can politely challenge me. If I cannot answer, I’ll reconsider the lesson; being inquisitive and listening to responses is how we will learn together.”

If I cannot answer, I’ll reconsider the lesson……WOW!

Of course, that makes COMPLETE sense.  If we can’t justify the relevancy of a lesson…we ought to reconsider it.  Our time with kids is way too precious to just trundle out whatever happens to be next in line in our curriculum.  Reminds me of the research based effective practice of Learning Targets.  And the targets aren’t the most important thing.  The thinking a teacher does about WHAT and WHY the kids are learning.  We talk a lot about a different question to ask kids when visiting a classroom.  Instead of, “What are you guys working on?”  We ask, “What are you guys learning?”  A blank stare isn’t good.  Just like a blank stare as we ponder the relevancy of a lesson we’re having kids do. Love it.  Absolutely love it.

Also just hit this cool activity for teachers.  Have a group of teachers gather and start generating questions about their students.  Some that Joy Kirr and colleagues generated about middle school kids included:

Why do I have to repeat myself so often? Why can’t they follow directions? Why aren’t they checking out books? Why don’t they like to read? Why won’t they stop playing with each other’s hair? Why are they talking when they’re supposed to be listening? Why can’t they tell I’m upset and I mean what I say? Why won’t they revise their papers? Why don’t they turn in their homework on time … or at all? Why don’t they like me? Why do they keep pushing my buttons? Why are they late to class? Why do they have to take a bathroom break each day in my class? Why aren’t they paying attention? Why do they ask me questions I’ve already answered? Why don’t they care?

Why won’t the stop playing with each other’s hair?  You all that have ever worked with middle school kids know this is a perfectly reasonable question, among many others.

Anybody looking to make a new and more profound impact on kids in a classroom….here’s a great book to guide your fun and journey!

Thank you Joy!

Author: Jnelson

Jeff Nelson Fife School District Assistant Superintendent:Teaching-Learning-Innovation 39 years as an educator. 16 years teacher 3 years assistant principal 12 years principal 8 years Assistant Superintendent BA, Washington State University MAEd, Washington State University Previous member of AWSP Legislative Committee Previous member of UW Tacoma PEAB, Administrative Certification Established and maintained Fife’s first website for 7 years Present work includes establishing the first Teaching/Learning/Innovation department in the Fife School District. Examples of responsibilities include: teacher/administrator professional development, assessment, TPEP, curriculum/materials review, 24 credit requirement, technology levy leadership, teacher/administrator bargaining. Initiatives underway in Fife, as a result of new TLI Department: AVID, OER, Curriculum and Materials reviews, Student Perception Pilot with CSTP, Google Expedition Cofounder of Educational Internet Communications, LLC. Marketed and sold one of the first online grade checking programs in the US. Consulted with Seattle Educational Internet Company for 2 years.

2 thoughts on “Shift This.”

  1. Jeff, now that I’ve got good internet service and my laptop, I can finally thank you the right way! I think RELEVANCE for our students is truly the key. If our lessons / days were relevant to them, we wouldn’t need homework or grades, and behavior issues would drop. And how do we get relevance? By learning about our students – by making our room truly OUR room… I could go on and on, but I love that you found this piece relevant to YOU, and you shared it with your readers! Thank you! Keep sharing what you think is right and good!! You’re a rockstar!

    Liked by 1 person

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