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3 Things Education Can Learn From The Craft Beer Phenomenon

A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece called 5 Things That Schools Can Learn From the Food Truck Phenomenon. Some thought it was funny. Some thought it was pertinent. I thought it was appropriate. One, I am routinely advocating for education, as well as educators, to look outside the field of education for ideas and innovation. Two, I loved the inspiration, innovation, creativity and customization that the food trucks were offering and wanted education to be inspired to do the same.       Well now, I’m taking it one step further. I have been a craft beer lover for over 30 years. The huge and recent popularity of craft beer in America has motivated me to beg the question: What Can Education Learn From The Craft Beer Movement? Well, here are three main ideas:
Keep It Simple Smarty (I never liked the word ‘stupid’)
     Just like Food Trucks, Craft Beer establishments have moved in the direction of simplicity. They are about good and unique beers. They leave things like the food to o…

Modeling Lifelong Learning

If you ask educators about essential skills for all students, lifelong learning surely tops many lists. It has always been important, but it’s now a real expectation for all of us to stay employed, engaged and relevant.
Additionally, educators have always known that the true joy of learning is all about the ongoing journey of continual improvement. But talking about it is very different from living it. If we want our students to succeed, we, as leaders, need to model lifelong learning—for our students, teachers and communities. Here are a few areas in which we can do that: ReadingAlthough we require our students and teachers to read, it’s amazing how many leaders are not actively reading—for personal or professional purposes. And when reading professionally, we should be reading about education, as well as other forces and thinking in our universe, such as business, culture, entertainment, politics and more. With the number of reading opportunities offered by blogs, social media and new…

Shining A Light on Learning - Ella Baker Restores Faith in Education, Promise of America

Most schools make grand promises. They have mission and vision statements, slogans, banners, posters, quotes and much more. But how often are these just words and not really practices? In my experience, far too often. That’s why my recent visit to one elementary school in Redmond, WA was so special. The school is Ella Baker Elementary; a K-5 school in its very first year in the Lake Washington Unified School District. And not only did the restore my faith in the promise of education, but in the promise of America as well.      In an effort to be fully transparent, I was there to work with the teachers on project-based and service-based learning at the request of the principal - Kim Bilanko - a friend and colleague of mine.      In its first year, it’s obvious that Ella Baker Elementary is a special and unique place where the staff has bought into being a transformational experience for all of their students. Students and staff not only demonstrated the Four C’s (Collaboration, Comm…

Even More Ways Ed Leaders Can Truly Appreciate Teachers

If June is associated with the end of another school year, May is often associated with celebrations. One annual one that tends to get lots of attention is Teacher Appreciation. It used to be Teacher Appreciation Day, then week and now it’s the whole month of May. But in an era where we are desperately in need of recruiting more new teachers, as well as going through some of the most turbulent teacher labor issues, maybe we can’t have enough teacher appreciation.
     As a former site leader and activities director, I facilitated a great deal of teacher appreciation events. We did it all from breakfasts, lunches, dinners, raffle prizes, coffees, gifts, car washes and even massages. They were all fun and well deserved. And why these are fun and do offer some appreciation, especially if students are involved in teacher appreciation, I’m still challenged by the larger implications.
     Just like our other national holidays or celebrations – i.e. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentin…

5 Ways To Personalize Learning in PBL

Personalized Learning maybe one of the most widely used education catch phrases in an attempt to capture what is truly changing about what and how students can and could learn. The challenge is whether this is just another edu fad or something that will become foundational in the necessary transformation of future education.
The What
     Personalized learning is an educational approach that aims to customize learning for each student based on their respective interests, strengths, needs, skills, abilities, background and experiences. To go further, it’s also an effort to involve the learner in their own education. The more one feels invested in their own educational journey, the more likely they will be successful and learn at higher levels.

The Why
     It’s fairly safe to say that we are certainly living in unprecedented times. Whether it’s globalization, technology or colossal human challenges, the rapidity and radicalness of these changes are unheralded compared to previous e…

Understanding Why We Work Should Inform Education

“Get to work!”      “Back to work!”      “Start working!”      “You need to work harder!”      “Johnny needs to work more!”      “Kids need to have a better work ethic!”    These are just a sample of expressions that most teachers have uttered repeatedly throughout their years in our universal respective classrooms.      Regardless of instructional approach, subject, grade level or any other factor, teachers are ultimately faced with the task of getting students to work. Indeed, probably since the first teacher and student interaction occurred, teachers have often tried to figure out how to get their students to both work, as well as work at high levels.      Traditionally, our students have worked for a variety of reasons - grades, approval, compliance, fear and future success. In terms of motivation, we have tried many things including, but not limited to incentives, choices, punishment, relationships, technology and more. However, how often have educators studied, or tried to …