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June 15, 2013

13

Week 3: Chapters 5-8 Reading Blog: Practicing Freedom

by catherinejackson01

This week’s readings, especially chapter 5-“Leading From Any Chair”, just happened to coincide with training teachers.  I thought it was interesting enough that I posed the question as an opener for participants:  “Where do you lead from?”  I received interesting responses-the most frequent response was that when utilizing the LCD projector teachers tended to stay tied to the front by the desk as a separate entity away from their students.  What I found more interesting is that all teachers felt irritation at being tied to their desks instead of in the midst of student activity.  I asked them if they had considered not teaching from the desk, but having students use the computer to project, so that you are free to move around and interact with students.   Most of them seemed like the question was an epiphany.  I thought, given the information in chapter 5, that sometimes even when we don’t realize it, we tend to lead from the chair at the front of the room completely isolated from our students, and not even realize the impact on the classroom environment we are having. 

Personally, I realized early on that the projectors mounted from the ceilings, although a great tool, was also going to create a problem, so I saved and purchased my own lcd projector to allow me to move about the room and allow students to lead the learning within the classroom.  This way, I am the conductor-I don’t have to make a sound, but I am silently leading the room by allowing students to experience the greatness.  Knowledge isn’t something that we should keep and just give to those that might be worthy, but opening the doors for all to gain that knowledge-it doesn’t mean that we will become obsolete or not needed. For example, recently our band director couldn’t attend a performance-I have no idea how to conduct or lead a band-no idea.  Before the performance started, I asked the band, what do I do?  They told me to make eye contact and point when certain instruments were to be emphasized.  Of course, I had no idea when this was to occur, so I followed them.  I stood in front, but they are the ones that led me through the performances.  Could they have managed this feat alone and independent of me?  Yes, they could have, but instead they passed their knowledge to me-with me, together-shouldn’t this be what our classrooms look like?  We led together and not through isolation.  I am not better than any of my students. Did our band director become obsolete because I stood awkwardly in his place-absolutely not.  He is still needed because he is the one that taught them how to lead me.  

I try to not take myself seriously; I try to laugh at errors and at moments when I completely humiliate myself, others do laugh with me, but the most interesting thing occurs each time (and there are a lot of these moments), I learn something and so do those that are with me at that moment.  You see in these moments I am relying on my “central self” and not my calculating self.  I don’t see these moments as road blocks that will equate to my demise, and one shouldn’t have this perception.  Each time I make a mistake, others see that I am fallible, that I am not perfect, and that not being perfect is okay-and well, actually fun.  The engagement created in the classroom from those silly errors, create an environment where we are all together, imperfectly.   

While reading, a light bulb went off.  I have attended what I consider completely total useless teacher trainings.  Those kinds of trainings that occur last minute, in the most inopportune moments, right when I am in the midst of a really good lesson, and I am jerked from the class to attend the snore fest that I see as nothing more than a waste of my time.  Yikes-I can be one of those people that see the negativity in the situation and only think the entire time about how negative it is.  This is definitely an area that needs improvement.  I noticed that at this recent training where I was training educators, there were 2 in the room that spent the entire week seeing what should be happening on their campuses and in their district-I wonder how much of the amazing strategies they missed out because of their focusI wonder how many amazing strategies over the course of my teaching career that I have missed out on because I focused solely on what should be instead of what is.  I need to participate completely in all ventures.  What I have learned is that I may gain something beneficial through the eyes of a passionate learner instead of a disgruntled educator. What freedom can be gained when we are not chained by our own negative perceptions?

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13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jun 16 2013

    Catherine,

    The question, “where do you lead from”, I such an excellent question. It seems that this is a question that one would need to ask this question regularly to continue to grow as well as to keep oneself from slipping into old habits. I wholeheartedly agree with the statement “ … we tend to lead from the chair at the front of the room completely isolated from our students, and not even realize the impact on the classroom environment we are having. This point has been one of my biggest take away during my AR project. I loved how we started with the problem but that the solution was what we would do differently. It placed the onus on the instructor.

    Reply
    • Jun 16 2013

      I agree Stuart. This entire process has really emphasized evaluating our own existence in the realm of the classroom. It is remarkable that we started with why can’t my students create connections and critically analyze, and we developed plans and through the process-I think we gained just as much-we learned how to see our selves in the eyes of our students. The lesson learned was passed to not just our students but us too. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Jun 16 2013

    Catherine,

    The question, “where do you lead from?”, I such an excellent question. It seems that this is a question that one would need to ask this question regularly to continue to grow as well as to keep oneself from slipping into old habits. I wholeheartedly agree with the statement “ … we tend to lead from the chair at the front of the room completely isolated from our students, and not even realize the impact on the classroom environment we are having. This point has been one of my biggest take away during my AR project. I loved how we started with the problem but that the solution was what we would do differently. It placed the onus on the instructor.

    Reply
  3. Jun 16 2013

    Catherine,

    I agree with not liking to be chained to the front of the room. My school has little boards called SMART slates. They are linked to the SMART board via Bluetooth so I can take it anywhere in the room and still write things/circle things/move things on the SMART board or click to the next page. What I usually do with the slate, is sit in a random empty seat in the room. It might be in the back if everyone is present or it might be right in the middle of the room. From there, I send students to the board to try their hand at writing a German sentence, rearrange words to form a correct sentence, or drag correct endings and match the to verb stems. Then, from right in the middle of my students, I can explain why it is right or wrong and demonstrate (writing on the board) without having to leave my position. While students are at the board, the students around me (some of whom might be too shy to ask a question in front of the whole class) can ask me questions. If the students has a more lengthy activity to do on the board, we may even have a minute for casual conversation, which lets the students know that I care to talk to them and know them on a level outside my classroom (this is particularly important in military schools, where parents are often away for long periods of time) or it takes some attention away from the possibly self-conscious student who is thinking through a problem at the board. This method also helps to deal with disruptive students, particularly when I am able to sit in the seat right beside/behind them. Suddenly they become the perfect student, paying attention, contributing, and doing everything they should be doing.

    Reply
  4. Jun 16 2013

    This is the one chapter that I did not find very interesting or see how it related to me. As a teacher leader in my school, I should have read this chapter a little more closely to see if it gave me some pointers. I don’t really think of myself as a lead, but in a leadership position that anyone could do, yet I have been asked to do it. After reading your post and the responses to it, I am thinking that I need to go back and re read this chapter. I never thought of teaching in quite the way you have expressed it. You have given me a lot to think about.

    Reply
  5. Jun 20 2013

    Catherine,
    It is good not to take things so seriously,but sometimes their moments that you have to be serious. I heard that laughter is the best medicine, and when the students see you making a joke or laughing they feel more comfortable coming to you for help. I feel when it comes to central self or calculating self that our central selves is “to promote human development and transformation rather than to find solution that satisfies the demand.”

    Zander, R. S., & Zander, B. (2000). The Art of Possibility [Adobe Digital Editions].

    Reply
  6. Jun 20 2013

    Congratulations on your successful conducting debut! Sounds like you had an experience just like the American student musicians had with their Cuban counterparts. You’re right – the experience really represents a learning environment that we should all strive towards. Your band director experience along with the epiphany your fellow teachers had at your teacher training workshop reveal the importance of working together – teachers and students – in a mutually respectful, collaborative environment. I love having my colleagues come into my classroom and contribute to a lesson. The students appreciate it and, after all, I certainly don’t know everything and haven’t had the same experiences as my colleagues. Why deny my students an opportunity for enrichment or inspiration when I can easily put aside my Ego and lead from the back of the classroom for a while?

    I’m with you in choosing to laugh at my errors or, too often, my clumsiness instead of turning to my calculating self for some sort of save. My students love it when I laugh at myself when I trip over a chair or music stand! We all appreciate the light mood and can move on with the lesson much more easily. It definitely seems to put everyone at ease when my mood is light and fun. Learning AND having fun at the same time… imagine that!

    Reply
  7. edm613
    Jun 25 2013

    I love your honest point-blank reflection on the reading and your own experiences. What a great example of leading from any chair, to be the fill-in conductor having to work from the non-verbal cues given by the band to you. This is where live performance offers so much that a recording cannot approach, the give and take between all the parties involved, including the audience. And this applies even in all of those meaningless snore-fest staff meetings where so much more could be accomplished if it were an actual meeting, instead of just an info-dump that could have been taken care of with an email. Ack.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Week 3 Peer Comment – Catherine Jackson | The Womb of the Morning by Stuart Greaves
  2. WK 3 Response to Catherine Jackson | Media Asset Creation
  3. Week 3: Catherine Jackson | edm613-Regina Grant Blog
  4. Wk 3 Peer Comment: Catherine Jackson | EDM Greene
  5. Week 3 Peer Response to Ken Greene | Random SamurAye Aye Sanzin

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