Lighten Up Francis

Thanks to Four Eyed Technologist, I finally found out where that phrase comes from. When I get all mad and start ranting about this, that, and the other, my husband says to me, “Lighten up, Francis.” I knew that line was from a movie, but never knew it was Stripes.

The clip in his blog was fitting. He is really fired up! Ryan focused on his thought, “Learning spaces that live and die with the teacher aren’t Good Enough.” The message of his post described course management systems and how teachers utilize various features of the CMS to one degree or another. Since the use of the tools is not consistent, the students’ learning experience depend greatly on the teacher and how much effort they put into the course environment . (I hope I got it right.)

I’m going to focus on his other idea, the one he chose not to expand on. I found that it’s more what I can talk about, “Pockets of Greatness aren’t Good Enough”. Here’s my thoughts about this statement:

I agree with Ryan. It’s frustrating to see the educational experiences in some classrooms to be technology-rich and using transformative tools. Other classrooms could use their computers as boat anchors. “Pockets of greatness” can also characterize the educational experiences of students outside the use of technology. There are great teachers who demonstrate a real understanding of their students. Great teachers use best practices in differentiated instruction, focus on higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, and allow his or her students to connect the classroom to the real world. In that “pocket”, children experience the opportunity to think creatively and be self directed. Out of the “pocket”, students are disengaged and undervalued as learners. With or without technology, there is greatness and not-so-greatness. Within a child’s whole 8 years (I’m an elementary educator), he will not always be in the class of a great teacher. It’s unfortunate, but let’s face it…it’s true. What keeps me from “going Francis” is to focus on the big picture. The students will be fine. The students that came out of the school where I taught were very well prepared, and their technology-related experiences were much richer that that students from other other schools. Technology is so much a part of the lives of children outside of school, that they are competent and confident. It would be great if they utilized real world tools in all aspects of school. I really believe that and I do absolutely everything I can to promote the use of technology in meaningful ways. I’d like to expect that every teacher is on the same page. Realistically, it ‘aint gonna happen……yet. Reflecting on the analogy that Ian Jukes gives us, a passionate educator with vision keeps “swimming upstream” as a committed sardine. Eventually, the rest will follow.

Ryan’s blog post reflected passion and high standards. An influential teacher/leader needs that kind of vision. To keep one’s sanity however, sometimes it’s necessary to step back and look at the big picture.

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