Monday, November 19, 2018

Thoughts on Seriousness


I had the opportunity to see Rend Collective in concert last night. I love this group! After the show my daughter said something like, "It's like we went to a concert and it turned into church, but in the best way." She's right about that--these folks are out to worship, and invite those gathered for the show to shift from "watchers" into "participants." You can't hardly help yourself when you see their infectious joy and celebration!


I don't know what my favorite part of the evening was. We talked about it on our drive home. Here are a few things I love about this group:

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Running on Empty

My lack of writing over the past couple of weeks tells at least part of the story: it's been hectic.

Two weeks ago I was at a conference, which was a fantastic opportunity for professional development and networking with colleagues. But there is preparation for being away from campus for several days. My students know, "Mulder never cancels class!--if I'm away, we meet online instead, or they have workdays for ongoing projects. And then there is the catching up once I'm back. (Email has become the bane of my existence.) As it happened, all of my classes had some sort of project or test scheduled for that same week as well. And of course, along with this pile of marking, it was also advising season, which means lots of extra meetings with advisees. I truly enjoy the work of advising students, but it's busy, and every situation is unique, which means individual planning, preparation, and problem-solving. And, in the midst of all of this, my dear aunt passed away, and so I was off and away for several days for a funeral, including hurried plans for online class meetings for the time I'd be away.

It's been hectic.

I'm tired.

Exhausted, really.

I'm running on empty.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Your Classroom: Collecting Wood? Or Longing for the Sea?

A Twitterfriend shared this one last week...

I love this word picture.

And doesn't it just capture teaching? Both the good parts, as well as the struggles?

There are some lessons that just feel like collecting wood. (I've had a couple of those in my Geography class lately, to be honest.) The discussions are halting and stilted. The students are going through the motions, doing the tasks and work assigned to them. But it feels like just drumming up people to show up and do it.

And then, there are lessons that feel like longing for the sea. (Thankfully, I've had a few of these this semester too!) The joy of learning is so obvious, so real...it's like you can smell the salt air and feel the wind in your face! And when we shove off from shore, we have a real sense of the immensity of the ocean of content we can explore!

What ships are you building in your classroom? And how are you approaching the shipbuilding? Do students feel that sense of longing, wonder, and excitement for the voyage? Or are they just looking for the next log to drag toward the beach?

Image by Alberto Jaspe [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

How to Make Homework that is Not Crappy

In a recent post I shared about a presentation I gave at a recent teachers' convention held on our campus. The title of my session was "Homework is Broken...But We Can Fix It!" If you've been reading the blog for some time, it probably isn't news to you that I think we can do better when it comes to homework in K-12 schools today. (If you want to read more, check out my #nomorecrappyhomework posts...)

Today, I got an email from a friend who was in that session. He raises some really thoughtful points about how he (and his colleagues) are wrestling with homework. Here's what he wrote (slightly edited for anonymity):

Friday, October 12, 2018

Reconsidering Learning Styles in Light of Research

Ah, Learning Styles...

This is one of those topics I have to approach with grace and truth, because there was a significant chunk of my own teaching practice in K-12 where I emphasized the idea that different students learn differently, and that we should tailor our teaching based on these learning styles.

And appealing as that idea is...the research just doesn't bear it out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Aiming for Messy?

I follow an Instagram account called TeachersThings that often has funny or inspiring posts for those who serve as educators. This morning in my Instafeed, I saw this one:

A screenshot from TeachersThings on Instragram.


My immediate reaction was, "YES!"

But the more I thought about this, I'm not so sure that is the right response.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Homework Is Broken...But We Can Fix It!

This past week I had the privilege of presenting at the Heartland Christian Teachers' Convention. It's a group of some 500+ teachers from Christian schools in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Nebraska, and they gather on the Dordt College campus each October for a few days for professional development and mutual encouragement. It was always something I looked forward to in my years teaching in K-12 in Iowa, and since joining the faculty at Dordt seven years ago, I still regularly attend. While I was in grad school, I took a few years off from presenting, but this year, the planning committee asked, and I agreed.

My topic? Homework, of course! Over the past few years, I've blogged a fair amount in response to my research on the topic of homework. (If you'd like to read, here's over a dozen posts for your consideration...) I've had many K-12 teachers mention to me over the years that they would like me to meet with their faculty and share this research. So I figured it's still a hot enough topic that I might have things to share.

I knew I would have about 60 people coming to my session, which I ambitiously titled "Homework is Broken...But We Can Fix It!" I decided I would begin by surveying them--just to get a handle on who was in the room, and their initial beliefs about homework.

You, like me, might find these results interesting...