Friday, April 26, 2013

Interviews and Questioning
I spent the day yesterday interviewing candidates for a music position.  Of course, I won't say anything about the position or candidates.

I just want to say is that interviewing candidates is one the best forms of professional development.
It always makes you think deeply.  It is one of my favorite things to do as a teacher.

We know great teachers ask great questions.
We know great teachers let the answers lead to even more great questions.
And that is what an interview is - questioning and answering in its purest form.

That is what happens on an interview committee - the members of the committee are challenged just as much as the candidates.  While the candidate sits in the "hot seat", the committee members silently ponder, "How would I answer this question?"  Interviews call us back to our roots as teachers by examining the reasons we teach, the content we love, how we work with students and parents, and so on.

Would we get hired for our own position if we were interviewed today?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

If You Want a Child to Change the World ...

Sparks From Flickr by Stephen Walford on Dec 25, 2011 If you want a child to change the world, teach them to be a creator.

I am even more convinced of this after the conference I attended at the Milwaukee Art Museum last week which was about student creativity, engagement, and student-generated content.

Creation is always a community-oriented event.
The only reason we create anything is to provoke or elicit a response.
Created things are supposed to have an impact on our lives and on our world.
Just think of the times you have been impacted by a work of art, a piece of music, a great meal, an editorial, a movie, a new app, and on and on.

When teachers create something, we do it to change the future - one child at a time.
Is it possible that as teachers, our highest calling is to create creators?

If creation is truly the way to impact the world, then we have no other choice.  We must model creation in our classroom, create experiences, and celebrate creativity.

But on that path, it is our duty to instill the values of what good creativity is.  We must not allow it to be diluted to the point that creation does not have an impact upon others.  We must teach creation, but also appropriate appreciation of worthy creations.

Making the choice to be a creator means you are making a choice to impact people beyond your own walls.  If you are going to make an impact, you need to make the choice to be a creator.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Milwaukee Art Museum Connects

Milwaukee Art Museum from Flickr by Bryan Chang on 9/4/2010 The Milwaukee Art Museum is our #1 "go to" place as a family.  But it is also becoming the "go to" place in the Milwaukee area for discussions about revolutionizing education and 21st century learning.  The so-called "Calatrava effect" seems to beckon not only great artists, but also great educators in recent years.  But, great ideas do not come to take shelter under the wings of the Calatrava.  Rather, they come to take flight.

On April 20, the art museum hosted a conference called MAM Connects: Creativity, Connectivity, and Student-Generated Content.  Chelsea Kelley, the museum's manager of digital learning brought together over 200 educators along with three keynote speakers: Logan Smalley (director of TED-Ed), Rushton Hurley (direction of Next Vista for Learning), and the director of the Milwaukee Art Museum, Dan Keegan.  The conference was presented FREE with the support of Kohl's Cares.  I was one of the teacher leaders who led a small-group breakout session after the keynotes.  The twitter hashtag for the conference was #mamconnects.

Some of the great ideas and questions that came out of Saturday's conference included:

How do we make problems portable?  Both Mr. Smalley & Mr. Hurley believe video is a prime way that students can make their problems portable, and since video elicits an emotional response, it also can make our solutions portable.  This is essential if we want students to succeed beyond the walls of our classrooms.

Do we celebrate creativity in our classroom?  Truly celebrate?  Sometimes creativity results in an answer that we never expected, and that can be scary as a teacher.

Do we create experiences, or are we merely curating knowledge?  Humans crave experiences.  We use knowledge to create new experiences.  Are we participants or spectators?  Dan Keegan, the director of the Milwaukee Art Museum is the most eloquent arts advocate I have ever heard, and he believes the mission of community museums have always been to create experiences.  Perhaps the transition we are going through in education is much the same.

How do we balance process with product?  Especially if you are an elementary teacher, the process of creation in not only messy, but time-consuming.  We need to strike a balance that works for all involved.

How do we hold high standards for creation as more and more students become "creators"?  It used to be that few students reached that top level of Bloom's taxonomy.  But as creation becomes more of a norm in education, how do we ensure that it does not become diluted?

Who are the "educators" in your classroom?  Students have so much to offer - to each other and to us, the traditional "educators".

Thanks again to everyone who helped make this great conference possible!  I look forward to more great discussions about education at the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Here is a link to the museum's teacher page.
And here is a link to the information about the conference, at least until the museum removes it from their calendar.

Winter Break

Carey, Chris. clock33752.jpg. Dec-99. Pics4Learning. 21 Apr 2013 <>
Took some time away from blogging recently, but I truly missed it.  As a music teacher, there is a long Winter season of concerts and events (usually December through March) that are great for us as teachers and for our students, but perhaps not as interesting to a reader.  But in the last few weeks, I have attended and presented at a few conferences and have been trying new things in my classroom that are blog-worthy.  Hopefully, Spring is coming as well as more blog posts.