Monday, July 29, 2013

Chapter 6: Courage

Courage seems to be a great habitude to follow up perseverance. They really seem to go hand-in-hand, especially when Angela mentions the words fear, failure, and discomfort. What is something courageous you are planning to do in your classroom this year? How do you plan to teach and/or model courage?

16 comments:

  1. Chapter 6: Courage

    Well, I’ve just accepted a new principal’s job so that is pretty courageous I believe! That will be my courageous venture for the coming school year.

    As we talk with our students about courage in their learning, I think it is really important to help them understand that it is “okay” to feel uncomfortable when they are learning something new or trying something new. I like the quote from Peter McWilliam, “Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it is a small price to pay for living a dream.” I really like the class discussion that is outlined on pp. 92-93 of this chapter.

    I plan to reflect on the courage I display before the school year starts. I will make a “courage list” for myself. The last section of this chapter where it talks about courage in teaching reinforces once again that the teacher should be the “guide on the side” instead of the “sage on the stage”. We DON’T know everything, and we need to model this for our students.

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    1. I believe you are very courageous in this day. Congratulations on your new job.
      I have not read the chapter yet and will comment later on my reading but one of the first discussions that I have with my 6th grade choir is the courage to seek out help this first week of school. They are coming from an elementary to middle school situation and so many are just afraid to seek out help. They have friends who have the courage to speak up for them and seek out the help that is needed, but oh my the tears.

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  2. Barb's post really struck a nerve for me...I, too, have just taken an admin job as Director Of Learning in our Central Office--I will be supporting principals and teachers with technology and curriculum to promote student learning. I have been an English and literacy teachers for 13+ years, so this is a big change for me.

    The technology part will be the easiest for me as I love tech and have been an early adopter in nearly every area. The curriculum (and the testing issues associated) will be more of a challenge. I understand how students learn and how engagement and mutual learning promotes collaborative learning for all. It takes courage to give up the "me" mentality and to adopt a "we" perspective. It was hard for me as a student and also as a teacher...but we have to model the courage to try and do new things or those that might show a chink in your armor...I know I will have those moments in my new job, but I know with the support many have already expressed for me that it will be fine and we can all be successful.

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    1. Barb, Vicki, and Ted- I too am starting a new venture. At first, I didn't feel like I had anything to be courageous about. My job is getting easier, not harder. I'm going from teaching 3-6 different classes in the past few years to just teaching 6th grade social studies all day long. BUT then I stopped to think- I am totally taking advantage of less preps to focus and reinvent myself this year. I want to put myself out there- to strive to be the world's best 6th grade social studies teacher with all of my professional energy. I've never had the opportunity to focus like this. It's scary to some degree- what if I find out that I am not the world's best teacher after all. What if I fall flat on my face? What if I can't deliver what I have promised to my students- the fun and learning and success? All change takes courage, to embrace what's new and uncomfortable and different, to go for the gusto. I think it's good that we share our lives with our students, to model courage for them.

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  3. I teach fourth grade students and this year we are changing from desks to tables. I know this may not seem like a big deal to most but when you and the students are very comfortable to everyone having their own desk it is a big change. I believe that it will improve our classroom community and foster an environment where we are all working and learning together.

    In our math program we show students a different way of multiplying and dividing. It is the partial product/quotient method, as taught in Everyday Math. I really like and love teaching it to the kids (and parents), what is hard is sometimes getting them to even try. It is amazing to me how many young students are afraid to get it "wrong". At the beginning of the day we do review and when someone comes to the board and gets it wrong, I get excited and tell everyone to pay attention because right now "so and so" is going to learn right before our eyes! I hope to encourage students to take risks in their learning and use their mistakes to help them develop as a learner.

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    1. Julie, I think going to tables takes a lot of courage- to take that risk. I have toyed with the idea but haven't taken the plunge yet in my classroom.

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  4. Honestly, I need to begin by saying what affected me the most was the "to be" list. I am going to write one of these myself before school begins next week.

    Changes this year- Courage- This summer I have attended and presented at five Elearning Conferences. Right now, my brain is on overload due to all of the great ideas exploding around me. The keynote speakers have provided me with great resources and new ideas for my classroom this year. Courage for me, is stepping outside the box once again, and incorporating even more inquiry based learning and independent projects.

    Milton Chen spoke about the Google 20 percent rule....the independent project. I want to incorporate the independent project philosophy this year, in addition to a few other new ideas. There is definitely a risk of failure, as I am starting from ground zero, and I am not sure how administration and even the students will react.

    As always, it takes courage to try new things- the risk of failure is always present. However, I always go back to modeling. Students need to see teachers taking risks and experiencing the possibility or reality of failure. Once again, another powerful chapter.

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  5. This year all 8th grade students will receive a Google Chromebook to use in class. I could really connect with the refection questions on page 96. My goal is to integrate this technology into my curriculum. I will be using many new web tools and don't know if they will work or how the students will react to them. I know there will be times when I won't know how to help and times when I will try something that was just the wrong tool. From the beginning I will talk to the students about the journey we are both on this year and about the courage and perseverance it will take from all of us.

    It does make it easier to have courage to try new instructional ideas because I know I have an administrator that supports taking a risk, even if it doesn't work the first time. I know I can be the same way with my students. Sometimes they need to fail to succeed later.

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  6. Courage....is used on a daily basis in my classroom. I have three grade level of choirs from students who are scared to death to open their mouth to sing to the student who loves it. However, most are afraid that someone might hear them. I have a share day every two weeks for those who have the courage to get up and sing their favorite piece of music. For the really talented student it is acapella, for those who are terrified or just lack confidence they will sing along with karaoke or with their favorite performer in the background. Students may sing in groups and it is within the groups that we start tapping into the student who is afraid to sing in front of their peers.
    We sing in sectionals and I test vocally in groups, never alone. Their voice is their instrument and unlike a piano or a trumpet when you make a mistake you can't blame the instrument because this time the instrument is you. Courage is a vocabulary word we work with. The rewards, for me, are great when I start to see the success.
    General Music second semester 8th grade students start to play guitar. Our first class performance is called a "Guts Recital" and it is all about getting in front of the class and having the courage to play a very simple song. Their grade is based on the fact that they have the courage to do this and not on how well or how poorly they play. "We are all in the same boat. It is just that some of us can row faster than others."
    In this class whenever we make our musical presentations, I always suggest that it is much easier for those less skilled to have the courage to go first. Those who can breeze right through the assignment need to have patience and go last. No one will have the courage to follow someone who has performed well when they know they are not capable of the same performance. This method has worked very well and sometimes I have to "prod" the less capable student to go ahead while I have to keep at bay the student who is so proud of their accomplishment that they just can't wait.

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  7. I have been traveling with my husband, on our Goldwing cycle, in the W.V. mountains for several days. We he taken small roads, and very remote roads, and one lane roads. Some are steep and cliffy. I have fully used my courage many times! It is so beautiful too!

    Last week I took two days of PBL training. The second grade team from my school has a start of a team project. I am the teacher for their high ability math kids, and the building math coach. Therefore, we will coordinating our efforts. We will be using courage to implement this.

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  8. Let me just say that after this week's activities for me, a 2 day Staff Retreat and attending the eLearning Conference at Lebanon High School where I teach, this chapter definitely smacked me in the face! I absolutely loved this chapter and am going to use it with each of my classes; 9th grade Preparing for College and Careers class, 12th grade ICE (work based learning) class, and AVID 11 and AVID 12 (college readiness system) classes. After the retreat and conference I am more convinced that each of the students who cross my path need to experience this lesson.

    As for me and being courageous this year, I am not sure what that is going to look like. At Lebanon High School each of our students are receiving a MacBook Air for our 1:1 Initiative which they will have access to 24/7 so I guess I would have to say that stepping up my game in the classroom where the students have access to a computer all of the time.

    My teaching career looks very different from most people; I taught for ten years and then left the classroom for 16 years to become a full-time, stay-at-home mom for our three children. Nine years ago I re-entered the classroom as a half-time teacher and that is where I continue today. My principal now was an assistant principal when I was hired and he still laughs and demonstrates what my face looked like when they told me I would be posting grades and keeping a grade book on the computer. Courageously I jumped in with both feet and decided I was going to learn to be tech savvy and that I have done. I am usually a first adopter in my school and corporation, last year I was a Tech Coach in my building, and requested to teach in a computer lab 7 years ago and took my students online using Moodle through Rose-Hulman. My classroom is green and my students must be willing to be daring and bold and try new things; just like me!!!

    As I re-read my post I would have to say that this may not sound very courageous for this year but my journey in courage started several years ago and not just this year; however, this year I am bringing more on the journey with me!

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  9. One moment of courage for me this summer was a family history trip with my mother and son. Mom turns 71 in a couple of weeks- yet she has the courage and adventure to set off for southern Ohio with me as her navigator, going to remote parts of counties that we have never been before in search of cemeteries and records and connections. She modeled courage for me and my 13 year old son, being willing to drive back dirt lanes and get lost, being willing to trust technology and GPS to lead us around without a paper map. It might seem silly, but I am so proud of her for being willing to drive on interstates at her age, for being willing to book our hotel online, for being willing to Google restaurant menus to choose our dining adventure for the night. We had a lot of fun, got lost a couple of times, were scared a couple of times in remote locations, but found some new distant "cousins" and made a lot of memories. THEN she came home and had a partial knee replacement surgery, fought through the loneliness and pain and fear (Mom is a widow, so she had no husband to lean on physically or emotionally through the surgery and recovery), and now is almost able to walk without her cane in just a couple of short weeks since the operation. She faced the whole thing so bravely- she's a great example of courage.

    I love to share stories of courage with my students- from our history curriculum as well as from my family history. I had ancestors that endured Indian massacres, sailed on the Mayflower, moved to Pennsylvania with William Penn, were the first white settlers in the counties they lived in, adopted or fostered their relatives' children, went to the Gold Rush, fought in the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 and Civil War, started banks and businesses, rowed their canoe across the lake and taught school, and more. My husband's relatives left Sicily to avoid joining the Mafia and even had a shoot-out with the Mob in Logansport, Indiana (they were trying NOT to join). To me, those stories of courage are inspirational. Kids don't know their own heritage, so I let them "borrow" the stories of mine. They love it!

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  10. Reflecting on this chapter, I reviewed the two quotes from the "What Some People Say About Courage". The first, "Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears" by Arthur Koestler and the second, "Courage is not the lack of fear. It is the acting in spite of it." by Mark Twain. Then when I read what the author commented about, "reminding students that courage is not a single attribute or a recipe, but a cluster of strengths." I am realizing that I have been on target, when I say my students are courageous.

    At the Vernon Manor Children's Home graduation last May, I spoke on the graduates' courage. One of the graduates had spent time recuperating in the hospital. This student was transported to the hospital alone and received care from caregivers he did not know. The other student was new to our program and a new resident to Vernon Manor. This to me definitely demonstrated courage, as he assimilated into new living and educational environments. I use the word GRIT, which means to endure hardship and pain, when explaining or expressing my student's educational, social, and physical growth. Here I see "GRIT" as an attribute of courage.

    Another part of this book that got me thinking was on "courage as the weapon to fight complacency, conformity, and disengagement". How do we fight our students, my grandchildren, from falling into these habits? Angela Maiers writes, "Helping students develop the habitude of courage is an effective way to overcome these negatives that come with being too comfortable." ??? Still thinking on this..........Different books in the Courage Resources for Students.

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  11. "Eduard Christoff Philippe GÈrard Renaldi, Prince of Genovia: Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all." I like this quote from Princess Diaries. It takes courage to try new things and to take the risk of failing.
    I also like the quote from Winston Churchill (actually many of the quotes in the chapter):"Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts." To keep going if you succeed or if you fail. To not give up takes when things do not look good takes courage and to keep challenging yourself when things have gone well takes courage.
    Our school is also working with new technology this school year. Our high school students will be working with IPads. The students are excited about having them to use. It will a new learning tool for the students and teachers to use. Both will be trying new things.

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  12. As with several others on the blog, we are implementing lots of new technology. I've already had several conundrums with students just trying to get on their chromebooks. I will have to admit to students when there are times that I don't know the answer, and I may not know when we will get the answer, either. With the paradigm shift toward personalized learning and letting the students be more in control, we are definitely moving toward the unknown! Whereas our media center used to accommodate two classes at a time, with the advent of a remodel, we can have four classes at once, and I know there will be times of discomfort. I hope to model courage by remaining calm, being flexible, and allowing students to be more in charge of their learning.

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  13. I wanted to add something about one of my favorite quotes from this chapter. When Angela is discussing strong and weak words, she says this about "lucky":
    "When you say someone is lucky when he or she has achieved success, you are making an excuse for that person's achievement. This excuse ignores the fact that the individual has earned and deserves success."

    I think that would be a very courageous statement for a teacher to make to a student. Accurate, but also courageous!

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