Monthly Archives: November 2010

William Ury: The walk from “no” to “yes”

William Ury wants us to walk together, to take a shared journey to peace.

In my Two Wolves post, I look at the last chapter of Thomas Freidman’s ‘The World is Flat’, and I ask ‘How do we move from being stuck on History to looking forward and finding Hope?’

Ury says we need to travel a path together:
From Hostility to Hospitality, and from Terrorism to Tourism… wonderful!


And still more about CHANGE!

Great quotes on CHANGE shared on George Couros’ blog

“If teachers and students know ‘why’ then the change or the learning is meaningful…”  Edna Sackson

“Change can be a lot of work too. Sometimes people also get frustrated when it seems that we constantly have to change, and then just as things are working, we need to change again.”  Aviva Dunsinger

“Endless conversation about change is the barrier. Actually committing to doing something and then acting is what is required.”  David Jakes

“When we have the autonomy to learn for ourselves and grow through our own desires, we can and will ultimately embrace change for what it needs to be…finding a better way of doing something.”  Justin Tarte

“Put teachers together in an organized way, with clear objectives, and they’ll move mountains. Alone, the mountains are just too big!” David Truss

“…what if I build something, in this case a website on the way to building an entire movement, and wondering, and what if no one comes? That haunts me.”  Miss Shuganah

“many others have seen “the newest and greatest” ideas come and go…….and to invest their time, (because it does take time) and their energy and also possible total rethinking of everything which was their foundation — has to have a reason.”  Jennifer

“The best change comes as a result of individuals realizing they need to change. If we believe that teachers are the right people in the role, we need to help them realize this on their own and not because they feel forced. True change is internal.”  Dean Shareski

“The change that is sustainable must be something that has a reason (answering the “why’) and something that everyone has a stake in. I can get one person to change, but can I make it systemic?”  Pete Rodriguez

“It’s dangerous to think we are ever finished or have attained mastery….. which is contrary to everything we teach students by giving unit tests, by graduating them after ‘x’ number of hours, etc.” Julie Cunningham

“They (educators) need someone who has been in the trenches, slogged it out, and can share the good, the bad, the ugly about where they’re going. Too often they get someone who’s just done the research or the book learnin’. There’s no credibility there. They need to hear the war stories.“  Katherine Mann

“…my role is to be the force of change vs. having change forced on me.” Carrie Daniels

“Teachers do not fear changes that they believe in…it is those changes that are forced upon us that make us skeptical.”  Kelly Alford

“It is not change that people fear, it is the transition between where they are and where they want to be.” Ian Cullion

“As a leader (any type of leader….not just administrator!) it is our job to help people find their way in this time of change. I for one, am excited and ready to go!”  Melissa Dallinger

Here is the flickr group George created to share these. My 2nd attempt to contribute, using David Jake’s quote, is below. (I like this better than my first attempt.)


(That’s me in the photo, at Ariel’s Point near Boracay in the Philippines. Ann took the photo.)

More Thinking about Change

Is Change the True Barrier? | The Principal of Change | George Couros

Change for change sake is not good enough.  Change to make something better is the goal. If what we are doing now is the best way of doing things, then there is no reason to change.  But, if we know something is better and serving our students in a way that is needed, is change the true barrier?

Is it that people really don’t like change or is it truly that people do not like the process that change incurs?


I’ve been Thinking About Change a lot recently:

I think we are at a point of transition now where teachers are often learning to use tools as they teach with them & so a few key things are needed to help foster effectiveness:
1. Time- Pro-D, preparation, planning & play
2. Co-teaching & collaboration opportunities
3. Models & Mentorship

…and George asks a really good question about change above.

In my comment I said:

I think part of the issue is the ‘unknown’ factor of how much change is needed. For example: When someone struggles with email and adding an attachment, the move to a wiki seems daunting. Phrases like “It’s just like using a word document,” seem comforting to some, but not to others. To me the change is minor in the amount of effort, to others it can be a huge undertaking!

I also think the education profession is it’s own worst enemy simply because it always leaves you feeling you can do more. You can have an amazing lesson that excites all but one kid and you walk out of the room thinking, “What could I have done to engage him?” So, how much do you do? You can ALWAYS be better, you can ALWAYS do more. I love the phrase “Good enough is not good enough!” but I think too often it is perceived as ‘good enough’ when the prospect of big changes are presented.

The missing ingredient that I see: Collaboration time. Put teachers together in an organized way, with clear objectives, and they’ll move mountains. Alone, the mountains are just too big!

And I think that fits well with my post I linked to above.

Dean Shareski commented:

“Teachers do not resist making changes; they resist people who try to make them change. The best change comes as a result of individuals realizing they need to change. If we believe that teachers are the right people in the role, we need to help them realize this on their own and not because they feel forced. True change is internal.”

…Which adds the aspects of empowerment and ‘owning the learning’ to the equation. I think this is a really critical point!

Why letter grades/percents?

Shared this on Remi’s blog post as a comment. I thought I’d share it here for now, before I expand it into a full blog post on Pairadimes some time (soon). 


Why letter grades/percents? It goes “Beyond TTWWADI” (Google it)!

Fear has a lot to do with it… what will the parents say? What will the admin say?

Well, I actually did it… and in Grade 10 too!

Students got 2 marks (percentages) all semester for Planning 10 in my class. They got a mid-term and a final mark, required on report cards, and I didn’t chose it, they did! They picked a mark and then we discussed it based on conversations, expectations and comparisons with what I thought was exemplary work. In 2 classes of 28 and 29 students, I helped guide a total of 4 or 5 of them up or down a few percents, and beyond that, they picked their own grade… doing a very good job of it I might add!

One interesting anecdote from that experience, I had one class that was almost all IB students where marks really mattered. Anecdotal feedback without marks attached drove them a bit crazy to start… but, one kid at the end of the term, after picking his own mark, told me, “That’s going to be my lowest mark this semester.”
But he wasn’t arguing, he was only making a statement. He knew he could have done better and he also knew he could have done more and earned a better mark, (you see I also allowed students to go back to their digital projects and improve them at any time, because Learning Outcomes don’t come with teacher timelines only semester timelines. He was willing to accept the self-imposed low ‘A’ rather than put more work into it.

So, what’s stopping us from purely anecdotal report card up to Grade 8? The marks are not needed for university… there are no excuses but FEAR and TTWWADI! 

New World Navigation

The early discoverers didn’t have a map to help them navigate from their flat world into a round world, and now it would seem that we really don’t have a map to help us navigate from our round world into a world that is suddenly flat again.


Empathy, Not Technology, Is Core of the Problem and the Solution

danah boyd | apophenia » “Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers

[…] When I first started interviewing teenagers about bullying, they would dismiss my questions. “Bullying is so middle/elementary school,” they’d say. […]

[…] Of course, teens do take it seriously. And they do misinterpret when people are messing with them. And they do take minor social infractions personally. And then things escalate. And here’s what makes bullying so difficult to address. So often, one person thinks that they’re not at fault and that they’re simply a victim of bullying. But those who are engaged in the bullying see it entirely differently. They blame the person and see what they’re doing as retaliation. None of this is communicated, of course, so things can quickly spiral out of control without anyone really knowing where it all began.[…]

Empathy, Not Technology, Is Core of the Problem and the Solution

[…] We need interventions that focus on building empathy, identifying escalation, and techniques for stopping the cycles of abuse. We need to create environments where young people don’t get validated for negative attention and where they don’t see relationship drama as part of normal adult life. The issues here are systemic. And it’s great that the Internet is forcing us to think about them, but the Internet is not the problem here. It’s just one tool in an ongoing battle for attention, validation, and status. And unless we find effective ways of getting to the root of the problem, the Internet will just continue to be used to reinforce what is pervasive.

– – –

Finally, a well said and researched article that recognizes that the Internet is not the problem… It just amplifies the issues already present.

The bullying that Ann and her brother endured was as cruel as anything that happens on the internet and back then, before cell phones, cell phone cameras, MSN, Facebook and YouTube, it didn’t matter if the information didn’t go beyond the class or the school because that was the scale of the ‘whole world knowing’ anyway.

Blaming the internet or technology for making bullying worse is like blaming a gun for shooting someone. It’s not the tool, but how you use it that matters.

We need to develop empathy from a young age, infuse caring across the curriculum, and as Dana says, stop validating negative attention and start breaking the cycles of abuse that escalate into hurtful scenarios, (both on and off the internet).

“Empathy, Not Technology, Is Core of the Problem and the Solution!”

prepare to risk being wrong

Defining 5!  » COURAGE, CONFIDENCE, OPTIMISIM!  » Rick Fabbro
What is five?

I am no longer teaching in the classroom. My work now deals mostly with principals, vice-principals, and parents. I still see my basic job as the same. How do I find ways to help people approach their challenges with courage, confidence and optimism? How do I persuade principals and vice principals that they need to be prepared to risk being wrong in order to find ways of responding creatively to the particular context of their school?

– – – – –

A great blog post, well worth the read. I especially like the last sentence and think it could be changed in a number of ways:

How do WE persuade *principals and vice principals* that they need to be prepared to risk being wrong in order to find ways of responding creatively to the particular context of their *school*?

Replace *principals and vice principals* and *school* with:
teachers and class
students and class
my children and family
ourselves and lives

The last one doesn’t really fit grammatically but the reality is that fear of being wrong, of failure, is such a barrier to most people that people don’t even take ‘safe’ risks.


and this video:

Compassion and Forgiveness

I shared this in a comment on Tom Altepeter’s post titled ‘Family‘ today, and wanted to share it in my own space too:


I think the two most noblest of traits are compassion and forgiveness.

Compassion because it links us to others in a way that we lose ourselves.

Forgiveness because more than any other trait, it can not be faked
and true forgiveness is to see love even in the faults of others.
I believe that family helps us to find both
compassion and forgiveness in ourselves.


Think good thoughts, say good words, do good deeds.

What should we do with tools to make them great? » Online Sapiens

What should we do with tools to make them great?

David Truss (via @sabridv) suggests what we can do with tools to make them great

1. Give students choice
2. Give students a voice.
3. Give students an audience.
4. Give students a place to collaborate.
5. Give students a place to lead.
6. Give students a digital space to learn.

Compare this list to:

Stephen Downes Connectivism Principles:

1- Autonomy
2- Diversity
3- Openness
4- Interactivity and Connectedness

and to

Chickering and Gamson Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

1. encourages contact between students and faculty,
2. develops reciprocity and cooperation among students,
3. encourages active learning,
4. gives prompt feedback,
5. emphasizes time on task,
6. communicates high expectations, and
7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

As George Siemens posted, It’s not about tools. It’s about change.

It’s the change underlying these tools that I’m trying to emphasize. Forget blogs…think open dialogue. Forget wikis…think collaboration. Forget podcasts…think democracy of voice. Forget RSS/aggregation…think personal networks. Forget any of the tools…and think instead of the fundamental restructuring of how knowledge is created, disseminated, shared, and validated.


Eduardo did a great job of putting together several ideas around the same theme such that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts!

On my post David Warlick added, “Give the learners a sandbox.”
I like the idea of ‘Play’ and also that he changed ‘students’ to ‘the learners’.

elearnspace › It’s New! It’s New! › George Siemens

It is my main critique with the emotional-feel-good message of Ken Robinson’s focus on creativity. First, we need to get over the view that our generation is astonishingly unique. Hasn’t every generation faced new technologies to solve problems not foreseen? The present moment arrogance that invades much of school reform thinking is frustrating. And, I might as well add, the pendulum-thinking mindset that is evident in Robinson’s view is damaging in the long term. If a view of educational reform is defined by the current reality that it is reacting against, rather than a holistic model of what it will produce in the future, then we’re playing a game of short-term gains, planting in our revolution the seeds for the next revolution that will push back against gains that we make now.

Developing capacity for complexity. Complexity is the DNA of society. Whenever multiple agents interact, outcomes are uncertain. Failure to account for complexity in organizational design, teacher preparation, and business planning is a short path to frustration. Yes, it would be nice if the world was complicated – like a puzzle where every piece has a right place. But it’s not. It’s complex – like a weather system where changes in one aspect of the system cascades and influences the entire system, often in unpredictable ways. Unfortunately, complexity is not built into the educational system. We seek “general right answers” rather than “contextual right answers”.

The pendulum-thinking issue has been on my mind, but I have not been able to express it as well as George does here. It reminds me of the dichotomized digital native vs digital immigrant issue which can also be counter-productive.

I also wonder how many ‘rules’ and ‘expectations’ are created because of present moment arrogance? Are filters our equivalent of book burnings? Are our subject blocks created by a parochial curriculum? Are typing skills equivalent to quill pen skills of the past? How is our arrogance counter-revolutionary?

In the second section, I love the puzzle vs weather system metaphor! Using a metaphor exemplifies contextual complexity!