This year’s powerful words.

IMG_6276I like to look back, as a school year comes to a close, at the words that carried extra impact on my thinking and learning over the course of that school year.  Here are some of the words from the 2017-2018 school year.  Apologizes to any not attributed!

This year’s powerful words.

  • “Schools supposedly have the universal mission of preparing students for lifelong learning and creating students ready to engage in modern careers. Yet most students still power down their devices when they come to school and only power up when they’re using a computer at home or a mobile device in and around their communities (Prensky, 2008). As a result, learning at home, for students who have digital access, is often more powerful than learning at school.”
  • “When we instead hold students back due to our own fears, lack of knowledge, or unwillingness to give up control, we deliberately hamstring their chances of success.”
  • Even on your worst day, you are still some child’s best hope. —Larry Bell
  • Learning involves student conversations. Whoever is doing the talking is doing the learning. -David Geurin
  • If students are sharing their work with the world, they want it to be good. If they are just sharing it with you, they want it to be good enough. —Rushton Hurley
  • The first typewriter remained unchanged for over a hundred years.  The first iPhone became obsolete in 10.
  • 20 quotes from the first half of David Geurin’s book, Future Driven
  1. Is your school a time capsule or a time machine?
  2. The ultimate 21st Century skill is the ability to “learn, unlearn, and relearn.
  3. It’s essential we prepare students for the world they will live in and not the one we grew up in.
  4. We see things. But we don’t always see things as they are. Our vision is clouded by our own filters. We are limited to our own perspective. Often we’re too close or too far away to make good sense of what we see.
  5. Mere survival today depends on being able to do something that overseas knowledge workers can’t do cheaper, that powerful computers can’t do faster. And what we do must satisfy nonmaterial, transcendent desires of this abundant age. The skills in greatest demand will be those that can’t be replicated by a machine or can’t be outsourced for a lower wage. It is essential to be an adaptable learner in a world of uncertainty and complexity.
  6. Doing what’s best for students isn’t always what’s most comfortable for adults.
  7. As educators, schools have a mission that matters most. We are in the business of changing lives and helping kids have better opportunities in life.
  8. What message are we sending in the setup of the learning space? Does your classroom design show that you value collaboration? Is it teacher-centered? Or, learning-centered? Is it a shared space, where ideas of students and teachers are valued? And where teachers and students are working together to accomplish goals?
  9. But in too many schools, teachers feel like they must ask permission to try something new or take a risk. But a culture of permission is not going to develop expectations of innovation. I don’t want our teachers to feel the need to get permission to try something they believe could impact learning for students. I love it when teachers share the ideas they are trying. I also love to play a part in supporting these ideas.
  10. But perhaps the most striking transformation in our school is our library. Before, it was pretty much a traditional library. It was a nice space that was friendly and inviting. But now it is truly a learning commons, a place where students gather to share ideas, work on projects, and use technology. The entire feel is different. It feels like a Starbucks. We even have coffee. There are also lots flexible spaces for collaboration, flat screen T.V.’s, cafe tables, and distinctive lighting. Student design elements and art are on display throughout the space. An adjacent computer lab is now a makerspace complete with a green screen.
  11. Relationships and technology both matter. So does the order. We must keep relationships at the center of all we do as educators. We are in a people profession.
  12. Here’s one of our favorite interview questions we use when hiring a new teacher: Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships—which of these is most important to you and why?
  13. It’s never a good idea to delay gratitude.
  14. Even on your worst day, you are still some child’s best hope. —Larry Bell
  15. If our students master every standard but do not discover joy and passion in learning, we have failed them.  
  16. Teachers must model the same risk taking they want to see from students as learners.  
  17. If students are sharing their work with the world, they want it to be good. If they are just sharing it with you, they want it to be good enough. —Rushton Hurley
  18. Learning involves choice. Learners need greater ownership and opportunities to make choices regarding time, place, path, and pace. Learning involves student conversations. Whoever is doing the talking is doing the learning.
  19. Test scores tell us little about our children’s readiness for a complex, uncertain world. Test scores reveal who is good at taking tests.
  20. Your example is your greatest influence. What you say is important, but what you do speaks even louder. (What you do stands over you all the while and thunders so loudly that we cannot hear what you say.)
  • More from David Geurin: Great teachers are great learners, too. They don’t wait for the school to ‘develop’ them. We’ve all been to mind-numbing professional development sessions. We’ve also observed educators who don’t make an effort to engage in professional learning. Maybe you’ve been professionally disengaged. Maybe the culture of your school doesn’t reward growth and progress for teachers. It makes me sad that so many educators have lost sight of why they became teachers in the first place. You can make a huge impact, and one way you can do that is to continue to learn and grow. Don’t expect your school to own your personal growth. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to be a learner. It’s up to you to become your best. Of course, every school should support educator learning, but with all the tools available today, you can connect and learn no matter what your school is doing to support your growth. Take the initiative to be a learner.
  • The responsibility for growing personally and professionally ultimately rests with the individual and not the organization. We will provide support and encouragement, but you will get out of your professional learning what you put into it. -David Geurin
  • What if we thought more about how we would learn something ourselves and less about how we are going to teach it?
  • The future is here—it’s just not evenly distributed. William Gibson
  • “I need to make sure my teaching leaves plenty of time for my kids to learn.”
  • “Torched the haystack.  Found the needle.”
  • Don’t fear failure.  Fear being in the exact same place next year as you are today.
  • “Every day that we walk into our school, we are entrusted with the responsibility and gift of making a difference in our student’s lives.” -Jimmy Casas
  • Two good lines to remember.  ‘Kids These Days!’  And ‘Be Their Hope’
  • “By the way, he gave the “I have a dream” speech, not the “I have a plan” speech. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”  Simon Sinek, speaking about Dr. Martin Luther King
  • For veteran teachers.  What is the purpose of your gradebook?
  • “When you learn about successful principals, you keep coming back to the character traits they embody and spread: energy, trustworthiness, honesty, optimism, determination… In other words, they are high-energy types constantly circulating through the building, offering feedback, setting standards, applying social glue… We went through a period when we believed you could change institutions without first changing the character of the people in them. But we were wrong. Social transformation follows personal transformation.” David Brooks in “Good Leaders Make Good Schools” in The New York Times, March 13, 2018
  • “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”. ~Mark Twain
  • From Shelley Burgess: I actually believed that when I got excited about a new and better way of doing something and shared it with my staff, they all would be equally excited about it. I just knew they would be willing to make the change the next day! If you have been in a leadership role longer than about two months, you can imagine how well that went over. Over time, I discovered that passionate leaders also need patience if we want to initiate positive change in our schools and districts that lasts. Once we light a spark, we need to give it time to catch. We need to nurture it, feed it, stoke it, give it proper attention, and let it develop into a slow and steady burn that ultimately engulfs our school or district community. Likewise, we need to be passionate about stoking the flames of others. We need to encourage and support the members of our crew, empowering them to explore their own passions and then to find ways to use them to become better educators and help the school or district become a better place.
  • If a man does not know to what port he is steering, no wind is favorable to him. —Seneca, Epistle LXXI
  • Is the purpose of  schools to develop human potential or rank it?
  • John Dewey’s pedagogic creed.  From 1897.
    • I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.
    • I believe that much of present education fails because it neglects this fundamental principle of the school as a form of community life. It conceives the school as a place where certain information is to be given, where certain lessons are to be learned, or where certain habits are to be formed. The value of these is conceived as lying largely in the remote future; the child must do these things for the sake of something else he is to do; they are mere preparation. As a result they do not become a part of the life experience of the child and so are not truly educative.
  • I consider it one of the most important parts of my job to constantly expose myself to the high quality thinking of other people. It challenges me, it keeps me current, and it provides me the raw resources necessary for creative alchemy. -Dave Burgess.  
  • A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil is hammering on a cold iron. -Horace Mann


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.

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