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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in vision

Posted by on in What If?

road

When we talk about children’s challenging behavior, there are several conversational roads we take. The first, more old-fashioned and “mindless", instead of "mindful” (Ellen J. Langer) road we take is this: “He’s spoiled. His father does everything for him. They don’t’ discipline him at home.” This is a comment from a very young ECE student about a two-and-a-half year old in her classroom. “We have talked to the parents and they have him in therapy.” Not knowing all the ins and outs of the relationship of the family and center, all I could say was, “He’s two and a half? He hits, and won’t share? Hmmm. Sounds sort of two-ish to me. But has he been screened for vision and hearing? Those issues often make a big difference in behavior."

My response, on the fly, was born of experience. I once had a four who would refuse to look at puzzles and letters. His Dad was frantic that he wouldn’t be ready for kindergarten, and coached the tearful boy at home every night. (Imagine!) I asked about his vision, because his drawing was disconnected, heads and arms floating away from the bodies like helium balloons. The father was military, so they had only visited a military pediatrician. “Let’s wait six months,” they heard, time after time. I consulted with a friend whose daughter had difficulty with her eyes. The mom (who wasn’t, thank God, in the military) took her child to a terrific pediatric ophthalmologist. I recommended that the parents “got out of the service” to get more expert help. They got permission, and the boy was diagnosed with farsightedness! This boy couldn’t see up close, hence no puzzles, no letters. But lots of anxiety due to not being able to perform for his Dad. Did I mention his social skills were poor at school, and he cried in frustration over small things? Do you think his social skills improved after he got glasses? If you think no, you do not yet get the connection between the body and mind in a young child.

Another road that parents and teachers take is to label a child as having a disability without systematic observation by a teacher or other professional. Years after the boy with farsightedness, I had a four-year-old girl in my group with intense behavioral issues (pinching teachers HARD and not letting go, hitting other children). Her mother asked me almost every day, “Do you think she has ADHD?”. That is another quick judgment that parents and teachers make when they face a child who is having trouble fitting in, socially. Noting that I wasn’t qualified to judge, and, indeed, would be practicing medicine without a license to diagnose (which I tell my students, often—don’t diagnose), I suggested we go through the Child Find process to make sure we weren’t missing anything. In this case, the child passed her tests with flying colors, but the Child Find committee wisely recommended parenting classes at a reputable agency run by the school system. No more two hours of television before school. No more self-chosen bedtimes. The girl’s behavior improved.

Every child is an individual. Looking at them as problems isn’t helpful, though, heaven knows, it is terribly easy to do considering the mad pace of the average child care center. Without support from a teaching team with years of experience, a young teacher might flounder in the weeds, or continue to think that a two-year-old who hits is spoiled. End of story.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

“Great organizations demand a high level of commitment by the people involved.”
– Bill Gates

Vision (eyesight) is one of our five senses, eyesight is how ‘sighted’ people get input from the world around us. Eyesight is something that I do NOT take for granted, especially due to personal circumstances over the past six months. In this blog post I am going to draw parallels to my personal experiences with my vision and the concept of Vision in terms of organizational growth and change.

For 35 years I wore eyeglasses to correct my vision – correct as in meaning to improve sight. Sight in terms of what I could see with focus, distance, depth, perception, etc. I could still “see” without glasses, but my “vision” was distorted. With a distorted vision, I was not able to fully “see” or take in the world. The change I needed to make in my life was the change to wear glasses to “correct” my vision.

Often our vision needs to be corrected so that change and new methods can be embraced for improvement

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

public speaking

So… here we are again…another summer that flies by, another school year ready to kick off, and another few weeks of thoughts swirling in my head about what exactly to say to the hundreds of staff members who wait for my every last breath. You know the last sentence was sarcasm, right?  I used to despise listening to administrators giving speeches to begin the school year.  As a teacher, I already had so much to do, a classroom to set up, curriculum and IEP’s to look over, etc. The last thing I wanted to do was be herded in like cattle to sit and listen to some know-it-all administrator tell me how I’m going to do my job and how wonderful I am, even though he had never met me.

And now I am “that guy.”   I don’t like being “that guy.”  You know… “That guy” who cuts in front of you in the lunch line, “’that guy” who just has to have the last word, “that guy”’ who has been the gift to education since he stepped into a classroom and knows absolutely everything.

I don’t like the labels “good guy” or “bad guy” either.  My job isn’t a movie plot or a professional wrestling storyline.  However, some will correlate good guy and bad guy, because that’s what was always done.

Some people will call me a good guy, some a bad guy, or, even worse, “that guy.”  While I don’t think I fit any of these personas, I’ll tell you what I think I am. I am the guy.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

journey

Leadership

Arguably, the most significant role of an educational leader is communicating a compelling vision for learning in the classroom and throughout the organization - school or district. I keep coming back to this quote from the recent book, Illuminate, by Duarte & Sanchez whenever I think of the influence a leader has over the vision that fuels the transformation journey,

Leaders anticipate the future. They stand at the edge of the known world, patrolling the boarder between “now” and “next” to spot trends. They help others see the future, too, guiding people through the unexpected and inspiring them to long for a better reality. (pg. 9)

But leaders can't (and shouldn't want to) work in isolation. A vision thrust upon an organization will not go very far. As with learner voice and choice in the classroom, we leaders must support the voice and choice of everyone in the visioning process.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

TechnologyLearning

In recent posts I've written about the importance of vision and the need for leaders to anchor conversations around technology use in that vision. After the most recent post, Gary Stager shared an article he wrote titled Outside the Skinner Box: Can Education Technology Make a Course Correction?

The article is a "must read" and rich in ideas and classroom vignettes. What struck me most were the parts related to vision, leadership and professional development. These excerpts helped strengthened my thinking and prompted me to develop a series of How might... questions I will use in my practice. The questions are easily transferred to any leadership context, so I hope others will use and modify them - maybe even share out some new ones. Below are the questions paired with each excerpt from Stager's article.

How might learning with technology look different if we asked principals and teachers to think about who is granted agency by the hardware and software in our classrooms/systems? What would we learn? How might we lead when learner agency is least impacted?

In schools, all hardware and software bestow agency on one of three parties: the system, the teacher, or the learner. Typically, two of these actors lose their power as the technology benefits the third. Ask a group of colleagues to create a three-column table and brainstorm the hardware or software in your school and who is granted agency by each. Management software, school-wide grade-book programs, integrated learning systems, school-to-home communication packages, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and other cost-cutting technologies grant maximum benefit to the system. Interactive whiteboards, worksheet generators, projectors, whole-class simulations, plagiarism software, and so on, benefit the teacher. Personal laptops, programming languages, creativity software, cameras, MIDI keyboards, microcontrollers, fabrication equipment, and personal web space primarily benefit (bestow agency to) the learner.

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