Archive for the ‘Posts with Todd Nesloney’ Category

Counting Down

“Let’s not countdown the moments until we have a break, and instead starting today, let’s countdown the moments that we have left to make a difference in the lives before us.”

On social media, so often we see posts of countdowns to the weekend, Christmas, Spring Break, summer; it is usually accompanied by elation and celebration. As students and educators, we often can’t wait until there is a break from school. Why is that? We know it’s because we work HARD!  Education is a tireless job and the breaks are something we look forward to and desperately need.

This “tradition” has been around for many decades. We don’t know about you, but we can definitely remember our teachers keeping track of countdowns. In many cases it isn’t done with a negative intention; however this seemingly harmless practice can have profound consequences.  

You may have heard the phrase “perception is reality”; think about it, when someone online, who is not an educator, sees us gleefully posting about how much we can’t wait for a break, what message does that send? What about to the parents of the children we serve?  It sends a message of “these kids are driving me insane and I need a break” or “Woe is me, my job is so much harder than others so I deserve this break”.  Now don’t get us wrong, teachers do work hard. We work harder than most realize and with many unpaid hours.  But again, what message do we really want to be putting out there?

Let’s have a quick comparison with anyone who has ever trained a dog. We are taught with dogs to be conscious of our tone of voice. When disciplining a dog for a bad action, we should not use a pleasant voice, because a dog will associate that with good behavior. This of course is possible because of that pleasant tone we use to praise a dog. We are also taught to be repetitive with dogs. In order for behaviour to be learned, it must be constantly addressed.

Now let’s come back to school. Hypothetically, from a young age, teachers put down that innocent countdown on a blackboard or a bulletin board. Also regularly, when referring to that countdown, a pleasant and often exciting voice is used by the teacher. Students in turn mimic that pleasant voice and share their excitement from that break from school. We all need breaks because we feel tired, overworked, and uninspired. But we think that maybe instead we should be building up a pleasant tone with the amount of time we have left!

I don’t know about you, but we’ve had those teachers who talk about how they can’t wait to be out of this school.  How they deserve this break.  And as a student, I (Todd) remember a teacher once telling us just that, and somehow, in someway, I felt like the problem.  I felt like it was my fault the teacher was counting down the day until she could rid herself of me and my classmates.

I (Roman) also had a similar experience. As a child, I loved school. It was a place to learn new things, to meet new people and to escape reality that wasn’t always fun. I knew that no matter what, with the teachers that were there, I was in a safe place where I could shine and be recognized. Every time teachers would put up that countdown, I would always feel a sense of being weird and different. While most were like the teachers, happy to be escaping school, I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be in my “fun place” for the summer. These made me feel inadequate. I couldn’t share what I felt because no one would understand. Unbeknownst to be, I kept this tradition alive in my early years of teaching.

This is where our disappointment comes in; disappointment for two reasons. First, we all have been guilty of this practice in our careers. Second, disappointment because the very job we chose out of love for learning and teaching has so many students and teachers celebrating the end moment instead of focusing on the here and now.

And that’s the kind of countdowns we now need to hold in our offices and classrooms.  Not countdowns that celebrate the moment we get to “escape”, but instead countdowns that celebrate the moments we have left. Even more, why not start a count up until the beginning of the next school year, where greater learning adventures and fun will take place? Where all of us, kids and adults alike, will grow together as a family.

Our world is so filled with turmoil and pain.  As educators we are held to a different (and sometimes unfair) standard.  So even though it may seem like a countdown to summer is innocent, we have to take a step back and evaluate.  What is the message we’re sending, even unintentionally?

We know that the message we want to send is that every moment matters.  That even though we look forward to time with our families and time to decompress, we know that at school, that is a child’s safe place.  A child’s place to feel valued, important, worthy, and get the best education possible.

Let’s not countdown the moments until we have a break, and instead starting today, let’s countdown the moments that we have left to make a difference in the lives before us.  Our Kids Deserve It.

connecting-across-borders

“The power of change lies in the importance of human connections.”

For years we’ve heard, or talked, about the power of being a connected educator.  About how when you put yourself out there and learn from and with others, it changes you.  It grows you. It gives you a perspective you may have never had before. Today, we even encourage such connections, through various platforms, in the hope that it will bring about lasting change.

Both Todd and I have been in the educational field for several years.  One of us completely in the Canadian education system and one of us in the United States education system. One of us with a focus and experience at the elementary school level, the other at the high school level. Opposing educational spectra meant to blur traditional divisions and create a lasting impact.

We’ve connected with other educators in our areas and in our own countries.  We’ve learned and we’ve grown.

But for the first time, we connected with someone in another country: each other. Two passionate educators who strive to transform the learning experience for kids, to bring about change, by starting with the heart.

We met through unique circumstances.  I had just finished reading “Kids Deserve It” and was able to convince Todd to come present in Canada.  We met before the event and immediately formed a friendship.  A friendship that has only grown exponentially since we parted ways. If we are going to make a lasting impact for students by starting with the heart, we will have to lead and collaborate through the heart as well.

How is that even possible? And what’s the point?

Two educators, from different parts of the world are able to collaborate together, plan together, and be an encouragement to each other across international lines. And this is only a beginning. The power of change lies in the importance of human connections.

By connecting and growing together we’ve been able to see the subtle and the prominent differences in our education systems in each other’s countries. We’ve been able to see how alike, yet different, our cultures are. We’ve been able to discuss educational policies, institutional differences, lessons, teachers, unions, and so much more. Through all these discussions, there is always one common denominator : how will our decisions make things better for our kids. In education we often talk about change, transforming pedagogical practices, adding new technology, trying new apps. However, in the end, if our decisions don’t help improve learning, well-being or student engagement, are they really good decisions?

You see, there is great opportunity in learning and growing from others in your area, your state, or your country.  But imagine the even greater learning when you connect with someone from a different country or culture.  Not only does it help you grow, but it helps grow your worldview, your ideas and your experiences. It also reinforces what we tell our kids : learning happens beyond the school walls.

We can’t all travel the world and meet fascinating educators.  But social media has destroyed those boundaries and allowed us limitless opportunities to connect, learn, and grow together.

Every child on this Earth matters.  It doesn’t matter what country they’re coming from.  But it will take all of us; it will take every one of us, working together, to bring the best education possible to every child.

It won’t be easy and it won’t happen quickly, but if we keep tearing down walls and collaborating, one by one, we will all make it happen. Because in the end, #KidsDeserveIt.