The work to build schools that inspire requires innovative approaches to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of change. Through our monthly digital conversations, we highlight educators who are leading the work to reimagine school and the practical, actionable ways they have turned these obstacles into opportunities.
In this month’s digital chat, we took on one of the most formidable barriers to change: time. As a lead-in to our group conversation, we interviewed 2018 Massachusetts Principal of the Year and Principal of Monomoy High School (Harwich, MA) - Bill Burkhead. Principal Burkhead shared his school’s use of “Jawsome Hour”, a practical way to embed opportunities for students to pursue their passions as a part of every school day.
In this interview he shares the following:
We hope you enjoy this conversation and that you can join us for our next discussion on December 6 at 8pm EST. Join us as we build a network of learners and leaders who are committed to building schools that inspire!
Each of our digital conversations begins with a short interview with educators who are walking the walk to reimagine school. After the interview, we shut off the recording and engage in ~30 minutes of group conversation which is not recorded. Our hope is to provide a safe space to inspire you to consider new ideas, connect with a network to support your work, and encourage you to be a lead learner for your community. Join us on December 6 at 8pm EST for our next discussion!
By John Clements (A cross-post with NipmucPrincipals.com)
Last week I had the chance to give the keynote address at the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) annual Showcase of Model Schools. It was exciting to be part of this event which highlighted programming from some of New England’s most innovative schools. The audience was filled with educators who are inspired by the capacity of teachers to create schools that prepare students for the modern world.
I focused my comments on “Building Schools We Believe In” and was excited to share the work that Nipmuc has undertaken in building learning experiences that promote student agency, deep inquiry, and real work that matters.
When addressing this group of teachers and leaders, I encouraged them to be clear about our job as educators by asking them to share their definition of learning. As you might expect - even for some of the most talented teachers in New England - providing a single, cohesive definition of learning is a challenge.
Learning is complex and messy and difficult to describe - even for learning professionals. What’s easier to define is what learning is NOT. With that in mind, I asked the audience to share their answers of what learning isn’t. While it was challenging to build consensus about what learning IS, defining what learning is NOT was simpler. Check out their answers in the image below.
What’s exciting to me about these answers is that all of us, whether students or teachers or parents, can agree about what learning isn’t.
We agree that learning is not memorization or regurgitation of ideas.
We believe that learning is neither passive nor standardized.
We support a definition of learning that moves beyond lecture or skill-and-drill or busy work.
If we can agree what learning isn't, can we take the next step and build a shared definition of what learning is? The answer to that question is yes. Let's build that definition together!
3. Questions. Not answers. Our conversations focus on exploring questions together. You don’t need to have expertise… just curiosity.
4. Interviews first. Conversation follows. This year we’ll be hosting short interviews (approximately 10 minutes) with educational leaders who are doing the work to reimagine school before transitioning to full group conversation. The interview segments will be available - podcast-style - for sharing after the convo.
5. Safe space to learn together. The interviews are the only parts of the conversation that are recorded. After the beginning interview, we shut off the recording to allow for open discussions.
6. Change your tomorrow. New ideas shared by a community of professional learners help us to get actionable in shaping the future of our school. Join the discussions to expand your thinking and find ideas that will change your tomorrow.
The first Inspired Learning Conversation of the year takes place Thursday, November 8 from 3:30pm - 4:15pm (EST) as we explore reimagining the use of time in school. We’ll kick-off this new season with a short interview with Phil Conrad and Bill Burkhead. Mr. Conrad is Principal of Andover High School who has shared Andover’s reimagination of the school schedule with audiences across New England and the nation. Mr. Burkhead is the 2018 Massachusetts Principal of the Year and Principal of Monomoy High School where their “Jawsome Hour” has injected agency and personalization into the traditional school schedule.
Click this link on 11/8 from 3:30pm - 4:15pm to hear the interview and join the conversation.
Click above to share a practice that promotes student agency, ignites students' passions, or creates a bridge between classrooms & the real world.
Click above to nominate an educator to be celebrated by the Inspired Learning Project.