Tag, You’re It!

What are all the ways you build relationships with students, colleagues, parents, the community? #IMMOOC

Innovation in 1st grade

I hope that the statement above is not only understood by educators, but also lived and breathed by being put into practice. No matter what our roles, relationships come first… relationships with students, relationships with staff, relationships with parents, relationships with the community. So how do we focus on fostering these relationships?

Here is one super simple way that I create and build relationships with my students: About once a week, it’s my turn to go outside to supervise at recesses. As soon as my students see the little star on our visual schedule next to the recesses (that indicates that I’ll be outside supervising that day), they immediately get excited! They know that they get extra special fun time with Mme Annick! Supervising outside for me usually means getting a little out of breath, maybe even a little sweaty, and playing tag with my students, past, present and future…

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What am I to my students? #IMMOOC #IMMOOCB2

Godspeed Sir Edmund Hillary flickr photo by brewbooks shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

What am I to my students?

Am I a teacher? The sage on the stage?

Certainly not.

Am I a mentor? The guide on the side.


Am I an advisor? The meddler in the middle?

At times.

What am I to my students?

I’m a sherpa.

I do the heavy lifting at the beginning of the climb.

I lead. I guide. I inform. I steer.

And then I let go.

What am I to my students?

I hope anything they need me to be.

What happens when we start with the answers? #IMMOOC #IMMOOCB1

Long ago, we started with information and asked our students to regurgitate it. Then we began asking questions and even expected our students to ask questions. Let’s fast forward to 2017 – oh wait, it is 2017 – and teachers started with the answers and asked students to analyze and evaluate the questions. 

Is this an innovative practice? Is this an obvious iteration? Does it serve a purpose? Is it doing something different AND better?

Why? The Most Critical Question of All? #IMMOOC

Why flickr photo by Ksayer1 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

A great list of questions for the innovative educator from George Couros (The Innovator’s Mindset, 2015), no doubt:

  • Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?
  • What is best for this student?
  • What is this student’s passion?
  • What are some of the ways we an create a true learning community?
  • How did this work for our students?

But for me, and this is a recent trend, is asking why. Why would I want to be a students in this classroom? Why is this best for my students? Why is the student passionate about ____? Why did this work for the students?

By asking why, I am helping determine a purpose. Perhaps I’m even questioning what I perceive as the purpose.

By asking why, I am being reflective from the start. Reflection doesn’t need to happen only as a summative task. It should happen throughout the process.

By asking why, I am establishing a very different culture in my classroom. What, where, and how questions often lead to surface responses. But by asking why, the entire learning community can begin to dig deeper into our own learning, our own practice, our own sense of being and doing.

Thankfully, I’m still asking about my own why even after 19 years of teaching. And still I don’t have an answer and hope that I never do. My why might become clearer or it might change completely.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Simon Sinek (TEDxPuget Sound, 2009)

So what’s your why or do you not know yet? Why is your why your why? Why haven’t you figured out your why?

Starting from Scratch #IMMOOC

Tight flickr photo by Qwedgeonline shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

If I were to create a school, I’d fill it with trust. Trust among faculty. Trust between teachers and parents. Trust between teachers and students. Trust among students. Trust between the school and the community.

I get it. Trust is earned, never given. So it would take time to fill. But I’d never stop trying. I’d encourage everyone to try something new. To trust the process. To trust that failing is part of learning. That trust takes time and hard work and causes egos to be bruised and feelings to get hurt.

As the school is being filled with trust, it would become a place where everyone could take (responsible) risks. It would become a place where individual strengths would become collective strengths. Where weaknesses would lead to learning, to discovery, to passions being uncovered. School would become a place where people couldn’t wait to be and where no one would ever want to leave.

“Trust each other again and again. When the trust level gets high enough, people transcend apparent limits, discovering new and awesome abilities of which they were previously unaware.” – David Armistead