Maintaining the Road of Learning

I have spent my entire life living in Michigan, the Great Lakes State, the state of ever-changing weather, the state with two seasons (despite claims to the contrary); Winter and Road Repair...a state loaded with metaphor potential. And in as far as this is all true, I would like to link a Michigan-related metaphor to learning and an encouraging recent experience .

One month ago, I welcomed a brand new group of foreign language students...

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“Mr. Pickerd, I just can’t do today!”

These words fainted out of her mouth as she drooped there in front of me.

“What on earth is wrong?” I asked.

This proved to be the right or wrong question at the wrong or right time…I couldn’t tell quite yet, because what poured out for the following minute or two became a litany of stressors in the life of this young student: test here, practice over there, paper due then, work in the meantime… The list continued. She felt driven to the point of confusion, of disarray, and was no longer able to focus on the moment.

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Is it something I find? Is it something I make? Is it a priority? How do I spend it?

Do I waste it? I can’t get more of it. How much do I have anyway? How often I find myself asking these questions!

If my starting point for these questions is information-seeking, I may reach one set of conclusions. If; on the other hand, my asking the questions is more rhetorical… more meditative, I may reach an entirely different conclusion.

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Water, Tea, and a Spot of Time

Life seems full of coincidences. We run into people just after we think about them. We hear a song in our heads and shortly thereafter hear it on the radio.

Sooner or later; though, what seems at first to be coincidence actually proves to have more purpose. Here’s an example…

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Window Streaks and Learning

Early in my marriage, my wife and I would infrequently haul out rolls of paper towel and window spray for the detestable work of washing windows. One of us worked on the outside and the other from in the house.

Inevitably, one of us would tap in the window and point to a streak or spot that the other had missed. The trouble was that the person with the spot or streak couldn’t see it. We simply needed to trust each other’s eyes, follow the pointing finger, reapply the spray and wipe a bit longer.

At times the work leads to laughter, sometimes not.

Just this week I relearned the wisdom of this lesson again, twice: once in my classroom, once in another venue. Both reminded me of how much I need to continue learning...

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We Each Process Differently

Speaking and listening in Teaching (or training, or coaching, or…)

Over the years and decades of learning and teaching (and coaching and training…), I have been placed in so many different sets of circumstances in which I needed to stop, look, listen, and reflect on what I was doing. It always came at a time when what I was doing was either not working or not as well as I had hoped.

Several weeks ago it happened again. During an evening class, I was pulling out all of the stops to teach a concept to a group of students. They too were putting themselves into the learning. Yet, despite everyone’s effort, the connection I had hoped my class would make with the material fell short.

At the end of the evening, I asked the group to review and share with me what they had learned, and they did so quite well. Nonetheless, I sensed that their words masked the lack of depth of understanding. Their eyes, on the other hand, revealed all.

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Technology: a Blessing with Responsibility

Each day, we see students as young as elementary school-age weaving through schools with cell phones in their hands. They check text messages and social media more fluidly than many of their parents. Tweeting, snap chatting, instagramming…they do it all.

If we take only a quick look at the technology picture around us, we can be fooled by what it means. One perspective is that every student holds a cellular key to the world in his or her hand or pocket. Is it true though? Why is it is important to even ask?

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Caring for our Students through the Work We Assign

When I was young, I worked on my grandfather’s farm from February until the harvest in the fall.

One day during our lunch break, my grandfather began reminiscing about the “good old days”.

Whenever grandpa told a story, we listened, partially because he didn’t tell very many stories. It also owed to the fact that his dry sense of humor usually left you laughing, if you listened well...

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Create your Story!

As I grew up, I listened to my grandparents, great aunts and uncles and my parents spin stories of “the good old days.”

“Great Grandpa did this…,” my grandma would begin.

“Oh yea,” My great aunt would reply, “Well, Aunt Beatrice did that…”

As I sat and listened, my imagination ran wild with pictures, some of which were actually based on places I had visited and people I had known. I pictured younger versions of the people before me, and my mind’s video editor filled in the rest of the picture for me...

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Each of us Has a Story!

This last week was the type of week that both energizes and saps energy, fortunately, they work together for balance.

The week marked the middle of our grade period...and our classes for this term. On the way to school, I quietly panned my classroom in my mind and tried to imagine what I knew about each student. The deeper I dug, the more I realized that what I knew about some students was surface-level knowledge. This disturbed me, because it represented a break in the community, the very thing that we all need...

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Where are they Coming from and Where are they Going?

The new school year has begun (a new season), and like many other teachers, I have come out of a summer planning period of imagining where I would like to see my students in several months, if not in two to three years. As I planned, I saw specific students in my mind. I wondered how they were experiencing life the past months and where they will be emotionally and academically...

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A New CQ: The Community Quotient

Authored by Brian Pickerd for Cornerstone University

Since education is complex, we need a variety of tools for measuring the learning that occurs and how. In an academic culture filled with statistics and analyses, we find ourselves surrounded by numbers to interpret and decisions to make. We seem to derive satisfaction and certainty from measuring the quotient, or the magnitude of particular aspects of life and learning. Cornerstone University BLOG