Just Thinking…

It is Christmas morning and I’m reading blogs, articles, books. This may seem crazy to you with younger kids and it would have been impossible in the recent past. This Christmas morn I can because of a family agreement of presents at 11 am. That allowed all teenage and twenty somethings to sleep in and us adults to indulge in what we wanted to do. Hence my reading and coffee consumption, two things I love to do. A pretty cool gift for myself.

Here are some of the things that hit me in my wandering reading world.

In Counting by 7s, Willow has found a friend.. “going up and over some kind of barrier after spending too long hitting the thing straight on.” Love that line. It stopped me cold. I re read it and remembered it.  Went back to it. Wrote it, but had to carefully check that I wrote it correctly. My memory initially corrupted the beauty of the line. The actual writing of it made it clearer than the first or second reading.  Note to self about close reading — need to carefully write lines that matter. images-1

Next, courtesy of twitter I found Joy Kirr’s post. Thank you for sharing yourself Joy and for being my personal guru for Genius Hour. Because of you and Hugh McDonald and Gallit Zvi Thursday afternoons are Genius Hour time for the 5th graders at my school. The Genius Hour idea has been like magic. It didn’t take much on my part to launch it, not only in my classroom but in three other teachers’ classrooms. The acceptance of my administration was immediate. My hat is off to them, but it makes me wonder — why was it so easy to hook them in? Other great ideas, like twitter have not caught at my school.

Then I fell into this article from the New Yorker on how ideas grow. It is a long article, but well worth the read. My take aways from this are many. Things that I want to hold on to include:

Ideas don’t spread easily when

— there seems to be no apparent need or the need is invisible. Think germs.

— the effort it takes to try it out is difficult.  Early sterilization techniques were extremely difficult.

But ideas do spread when

— the benefits are obvious to the person who is instigating the idea. Think anesthesia. This idea spread quicker than sterilization techniques because of obviousness of the pain and the better working conditions it provided the surgeon — quiet, paralyzed patients. Could this also be the reason for Genius Hour’s success? The benefits were obvious.

— we trust the person giving us the idea.  There is the sales technique called “the rule of seven touches.” Touch the client seven times to build the relationship before you sell your message. Relationship and trust matter. Could this also be the reason for our school’s easy acceptance of Genius Hour?

The ending of the New Yorker article also struck me. It had to do with getting nurses in developing countries to implement lifesaving changes in their practice. Think could these reactions be from a teacher being visited by a staff developer or administrator?

 “The first day she came, I felt the workload on my head was increasing.” From the second time, however, the nurse began feeling better about the visits. She even began looking forward to them.

“Why?” I asked.

All the nurse could think to say was “She was nice.”

“She was nice?”

“She smiled a lot.”

“That was it?”

“It wasn’t like talking to someone who was trying to find mistakes,” she said. “It was like talking to a friend.”

We are more likely to be open to change when we feel we have a friend helping us. One who isn’t there to find what we are doing wrong.

Strong messages to anyone who is trying to instigate change in students or change in teacher practice.

Just sharing some thoughts on December 25th.

Happy Holidays 2013.