4 Takeaways from “Hilliard U”

Spoiler Alert: Kids today are different than we were.

Bonus Spoiler: We were different than our parents, too.
Three years ago, Alton Darby and Darby Creek started on a journey to see if the elementary learning experience could be different.  Many times we concluded “yes”, but there was and still is this struggle among us to accept that 1) Kids are different than we were and therefore learn differently than we did; and 2) The world is rapidly changing and therefore we need to retool and revise the learning experiences we create for kids.
We found ourselves wanting to change, but we battle ourselves over our own fears and against “but that’s the way we’ve always done it”.
We know that our fears and how we feel about the challenges that are before us won’t change kids and the way they learn and won’t cause the world to stop from rapidly changing.
We are left with one choice, which is to embrace the challenges before us and remember that what is consistent about our profession is our deep-seeded calling to help and serve children.
Last Tuesday at “Hilliard U”, many educators in our district shared the ways they are retooling and revising the learning experiences they create for kids.  Teachers shared stories about overcoming their own fears of new ideas and approaches and the positive results they experiences with their students.  Below are four of my takeaways from Hilliard U that stuck with me and continue to make me reflect on my role as an educator.

1. Our kids’ brains are wired differently.

We could debate whether this is good or not, but the fact remains that our kids’ brains, how they experience the world, and the stimulus they receive from the world have created different neural pathways.  If we want to increase engagement and decrease negative behaviors, we need to consider how much instant feedback and social engagement plays a role with our students’.

2. Learning to read has changed.

One of the sessions I attended focused on the different approaches to reading we all need to consider when reading digital content.  Scrolling, ads, linear format without pages are aspects of digital reading that we may be overlooking as teachers.  In the picture above, we rated our preference of reading format with traditional on the left and digital on the right.  It would be interesting and worthwhile to see how our students rated the two formats.  As you can see, most of the adults liked a balance of paper and digital.  I would argue that preference is one thing, but reality is another.  Stop and think about how much digital reading we do in one day.  Think about how differently we have to approach digital texts in order to understand them.  That experience should inform us of our instructional approaches in reading and the behaviors we need to teach, model and demonstrate for our growing readers.

3.  “My biggest roadblock was my own mindset…”

It’s amazing the people who are creating amazing learning experiences for kids who will also say “I don’t consider myself tech-savvy”.  This is what the presenting teachers of the keynote on blended learning said of themselves as they amazed the audience with how they provided excellent instructional experiences for the students they work with each day.  We need to give ourselves more credit for what we are capable of doing.


4. “We are our own best resource.”

I ended the day listening to a panel of teachers from two of our elementary schools who have piloted the One2One experience this year with students.  Their honesty about failing and persevering was comforting and inspiring.  What they revealed is that we need to give our students and ourselves more credit for what we are all capable of doing.  And when we get stuck, we have each other as resource to utilize.
As we move forward into next school year, and take on the changes we have in store for our students, I challenge us all to remember that we’ve got this.  We are on the cusp of something great and it was the talents, skills, and mindset of everyone in this school community that got us to where we are right now.
Finally, I’ll leave you with an ADE student’s letter to Ms. Bednar after attending a showcase of learning projects.  I hope it captures for you what our kids are wanting from learning:
The kids are ready to go! Let’s do this!
Have a GREAT week!
– Herb

Worth Reading

A Principal’s Reflections: Our Work is Our Message http://esheninger.blogspot.com/2017/05/our-work-is-our-message.html?spref=tw
Projects, Passion, Peers and Play: Seymour Papert’s Vision For Learning https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2017/05/01/projects-passion-peers-and-play-seymour-paperts-vision-for-learning/

Upcoming Dates

8 – Kona Ice Truck here; PTO Meeting, 7:00; Spirit Week

9 – BIT meeting, 8:00; Retirement Party, 3:45

10 – 8am Staff Meeting; 9:30-11:15am Grades 1-4 meet in Media Center data team meeting (see email from last week); 5th grade field trip to Art Museum; last day for Get Fit Girls, 3:35 – 4:30

11 – Staff Book Talk, 8:00 am; Tornado Drill, 1:30 p.m.

12 – 4th grade field trip to Art Museum; SLSP Field Day at Darby H.S., 9:15 – 1:30; 5th grade Growth & Development, 1:30 – 2:30

14 – Mother’s Day

15 – Field Day, 9:30 – 11:30 am and 12:30 – 2:30 pm

16 – Focus fieldtrip to Falling Waters, 5:30 am – 9:15 pm; SLSP field trip to Tim Horton’s and Petsmart, 9:15 – 11:00; Fire Drill, 10:00 a.m.

18 – Principal’s Meeting (Herb AM); Staff Book Talk, 8:00 am; See Kids Dream 5th grade field trip to Riffe Center

19 – Last day at preschool; 4th grade field trip to Zoo; SLSP fieldtrip to Get Air, 9:15 – 11:00

22 – PTO Spirit Night at Dave & Buster’s, 4:30 – 7:30 pm

23 – 3rd grade field trip to Art Museum; PTO Family Luau, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

24 – 1st grade field trip to Art Museum

26 – Last Day of School!


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