Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Kicking up a little dust for the harvest

As summer winds down, yet temperatures stay up, the harvest begins. For several years, the drive between home and work took me past beautiful open fields, cattle lining fences, and, of course, the vast almond and walnut orchards that make our Valley what it is. Harvest season is on the horizon. This is the time of year that fog is not yet a concern, but one still must drive cautiously and aware of possible visibility issues due to dust. As the shakers and sweepers make their way down rows of almond orchards, to collect this year's harvest, the dust kicks up. As much as many of us wince and complain about the dust, we know it is necessary and we appreciate what it means for our Valley. You gotta kick up a little dust to provide the harvest and we all benefit from it.

I reflected on this part of our Valley as I continued to prepare notes for my last Google Innovator application in 2019. Sometimes, innovative educators are kicking up dust around their school sites as they provide for the learning experiences of their colleagues and the students we all serve. Sometimes, we are kicking up dust in other ways. Anyone who has spent more than about a minute on Twitter can see that no two educators are exactly the same.

There are times when kicking up a little dust ruffles some feathers, but ultimately is accepted and appreciated. There are also times that it does not play out quite as nicely, but it does benefit the students. Teachers across the United States and around the world can relay stories of things they have done with and for their students only to have it underappreciated or even criticized. The end result of student achievement, or more importantly, student learning, though is what teachers strive for with each thing they try.

More and more teachers find themselves exploring new and innovative ideas for learning especially now that the face of education has shifted to primarily distance (or remote) learning formats. Among the educators doing incredible things you will find a few who really have taken the lead. 

Southern California educator Kim Voge has spent the summer sharing out some incredible ideas to help teachers with work flow and instruction. Another great resource is Central Valley educator Ed Campos.  If you need ideas, inspiration, or even just a voice to help you filter best practices, these two educators and many others like them are ones you can and should follow on Twitter. I also recommend the KQED MindShift Twitter page for interesting share-outs and resources. I have used many articles they have shared in recent weeks to feed my brain and my heart. Now is also a great time to register with CUE and become involved with your local affiliate.

Don't be afraid to kick up a little dust. If you try something and it works for you and your students, you know you are doing something right. If you try something, and it doesn't quite work, it's ok to shelve it and move forward. One of my kids' teachers has done just that. She tried something new for the math exit tickets. It did not work as well as she thought, so she scrapped it and went back to the original way that seemed to work better. The kids have followed her lead and have shown their resiliency and ability to "go with the flow." As I wrote recently, we must practice grace with each other: teachers, students, and parents. I think that is precisely what I have seen happening in many of my kids' classes. I can only hope to witness it more broadly throughout education as more schools begin.

Once the dust settles, we will reap the benefits of a bountiful harvest. Our kids will be okay. They are not falling behind, but rather, moving ahead differently. If we can keep a positive attitude as educators and parents, they can and will as well. We have imperfect days, but as I often say, we are perfect in our imperfections. The dust will settle, I assure you. And when it does, we should look back on this time of learning as the opportunity to grow.

What new tools have you selected to use? How are they working so far? Who do you follow on Twitter that you think others should follow as well? What is your best resource right now?

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