Sunday, 9 November 2014

Learning Fair 2014

The topic for this years learning fair was mental health. 

The key speakers were David Daniel and Pinball Clemens

I wanted to take the time to reflect on my notes and highlight the key learning that came out of this conference.

4 Books were highlighted:

1. Mindset by Carol Dweck
2. I wonder
3. A Whole new Mind by Daniel Pink
4. Our Rights by Janet Wilson

David Daniel reminded me that it is important to question and evaluate best practices. Just because the practice is based from scientific research does not mean that it will work for all students or that it is scientifically true. Daniel states, "If you see the term brain based run." This statement was very controversial especially as I looked at the topics for the breakout sessions at the conference and many of the presentation stated the word "brain" in the description. But what Daniel wanted us to do is question our learning! There is a place for science in the classroom but it is not the be all and end all. Science can help us understand the average learner, identify extreme outliers and classify differences so we can put students into groups. What science doesn't do is understand the individual. Scientists look at one aspect of the brain at a time in a controlled setting but we know that the brain does not work in isolation and the classroom is full of variables. What does this mean for teachers and administrators:

  1. It is important to question best practices
  2. When a new policy is released ask yourself: Does the practice work better than what we are already doing?
  3. We need to be cognitive of when we are being marketed to because when we come back to school the strategy will not working.
  4. Instead of using the word best practices we should be saying promising principles
  5. What works for one group of students or one teacher may not work for everyone
  6. Learning Styles and Multiple intelligences are not the same thing
  7. There is no scientific evidence that proves that learning styles is factual individuals may have a learning style preference 
  8. We are called 'teach'ers not 'assess'ers so our job is to teach if a student fails an assessment it is not their fault we have not taught them what they needed to know to pass the assessment
  9. When we are asked to try a new practice we need to be skeptical
  10. Proof in education is seeing something work!
  11. Our beliefs influence our teaching
  12. Teachers want the cookbook to teaching a script to follow but in reality a good teacher is a chef they can create a masterpiece from a variety of ingredients in the cupboard they are not restricted to the ingredients in the recipe

And then there was Pinball Clemons. All I have to say is wow! I felt that I could follow along with his presentation better than anyone else I heard at the conference and I was able to pinpoint three critical reasons why. First he used pauses very effectively which gave me enough time to process what he was saying and reflect on the information. Second he used repetition which solidified the key points he was addressing in his speech. Finally he used emotions to create empathy and energy amongst the audience.

The key points I took from Pinball:

  1. In today's society we have disengaged parents that only become engaged when there is a conflict with their child because their child is always right
  2. Champions run towards the challenge good teachers raise to the challenge
  3. After you embrace the challenge value the team 
  4. I'm going to be grateful even when things aren't great
  5. I have high expectations because I believe in my students
  6. When you value someone you believe in them
  7. Success is not final and failure is not fatal
  8. The child that we think has checked out of school has actually stopped to check us out
  9. When a teacher says "I'm not a babysitter" they have check out!
  10. You don't have to put in your resignation to quit
  11. You need to be humble enough to always put your best foot forward
  12. Teach don't tell We are not tellers
  13. The greatest challenge in my life is me!
  14.  When you get angry you are thinking about yourself first
  15. The good samaritan stops to help because they ask themselves what will happen to the other person not what will happen to themselves
  16. Ask yourself "How fortunate are your students that you are their teacher"
  17. Don't feel sorry, Don't complain and Don't quit

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