Friday, June 15, 2007

L.A. Again

For the first time ever, I was on a plane that arrived early to its destination. I'm still a little shocked. Not only that, in my first 20 minutes in L.A., I witnessed three separate incidents of strangers performing acts of kindness for each other. I'm in a good place.

I read the entire flight. My mind's wrapped up in Chap Clark's Hurt.

Clark does a fantastic job of reporting the findings of his study of the history and world of emerging midadolescents.

The most impress part for me so far is Clark's willingness to approach all subject areas (schoool, family, sex, etc.) from teens' perspective rather than that of an academic, parent, youth minister, or any of his other roles in life.

Clark has an impressive resume':

Clark is associate professor of youth, family and culture and director of youth
ministry programs at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. As well
as being a two-degree seminary graduate, Chap holds a Ph.D. from Denver
University in Human Communication specializing in relationships, teams, and
organizational and family systems. His responsibilities at Fuller
include chair of Practical Theology Division (School of Theology), Director of
the Doctor of Ministry in Youth, Family and Culture, and Director of the
Institute of Youth Ministry. Dr. Clark also oversees the Ph.D. youth and
family ministry track.

To keep his research open to readers with world views other than his own, Clark includes an appendix in which he examines the implications of his findings for Christian youth ministry.

What never gets left behind is Clark's obvious love and concern for today's youth.

More later.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Success (x2?)

Yesterday's presentation at the district's differentiated instruction conference felt as though it went very well.

I knkow from experience in the audience that teachers are a tough audience. For that reason, I've tried to pack my presentation full of as much relevant information as possible. From Clark (Ron and Chap) to Warlick, it's all in there.

I've divided the presentation into three parts - Social, Academic and Professional Development. You can view it below as well as look a the notes and accompanying files at the session's wiki.

Two pieces of this experience have been extremely worthwhile.

First, the reflection I've had to go through to put what I do in my classroom into perspective. I know I do all of the things I do for a reason, but presenting those practices to a larger, critical (in a good way) group of professionals requires me to finally do explicitly what I've been doing implicitly - connect the research with the practice. The rationale for me is inherent in the practice. To show others and pull back what is to me a fairly uninteresting curtain requires that rationale to be systematically connected. I've got to admit, the temptation was certainly present to say, "I just do this because I know it's what's best for kids!" I tried to stay away from that one.

The second benefit of the presentation thus far is finally getting an initiated audience involved in the conversation. Part of the frustration of participating in teaching 2.0 is the passive nature of our discourse. The people who read this blog are, I would imagine, largely people who have their own blogs. If we want to influence true, system-wide evolution, we (read I) must be better advocates for that evolution outside of our comfort zones. Scientists don't just publish their findings in an e-mail to the scientists who work in the lab next to them.

I know there is an interest in moving our practice and pedagogy forward in a meaningful manner, I hope I'm doing my part.

More later.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Stressed? Maybe a little

Since school let out, I've been uber-busy. I know, I know, the busy-ness is supposed to slow down when the year's over, but it hasn't. I'm a different sort of busy now.
I've three presentations to prepare for this summer.
First up is next week's district conference on Differentiated Instruction. My presentation is on building community and an environment for risk-taking in the classroom. I've been whittling away at an outline over at my wiki, but hadn't realized the true work ahead until I sat down to put the actual presentation together. I'm facilitating the session once each day of the conference and a little tense.
I don't want to be that guy at the conference who gets people to say, "Oh, don't worry about that one, I went yesterday and it't not worth your time."
The main source of stress is finding a way to put everything together in a way that's accessible and succinct. I called Ms. Dunda after one long go at putting the presentation together and voiced my frustration at wanting to show how all of the pieces fit together but also feeling like I have to introduce all of the pieces.
I also want to truly facilitate and not merely present. I value the experiences of each teacher who's going to walk through that door and want those experiences to be shared and incorporated.
I've set the bar mighty high for myself. I've got a few days to prepare to reach it.
As for the other two conferences, they can wait until this one's done.
More later.

Photo from