Straight A Students, Zealots and Rebels with a Cause

A few random thoughts to round out the week


I traveled to Vancouver this week to attend the PLC conference. We wandered up and down Robson Street while we waited for the evening keynote address. I think I have been somewhat starved of the sights of the city – the richness, diversity, the excess. Took pictures of bread, pastries, flowers. I couldn’t help myself.

The conference was excellent. I have been very fortunate to attend both the RTI and PLC conferences. I am looking forward to having collaboration time built into the schedule and to work together as a team to create systematic and systemic interventions. While the task ahead is huge, it feels achievable. Sometimes I go to a conference and think, “Wow, that is fantastic stuff. Why didn’t I think of THAT?? I need to do MORE. HOW can I do more? How can I NOT do more? AARRGHHH!!!” Subtext: I SUCK!

The work these folks are doing made me feel like this job could actually be…doable.

Genius Hour

I am looking forward to a double block of Genius Hour next week. The students are going to present to the class on their learning in the second hour. I am looking forward seeing how the students frame it, how their energy might inspire the few stragglers. Some of the students still don’t believe that I am seriously handing the entire responsibility (give or take) to them. Some of them are not using their time.

I am not giving up. I will do this until June, and next year, when I teach Humanities 9 to this same group of students, I will keep doing it. I am in this for the long haul.

Straight A Students, Zealots, and Rebels with a Cause

These phrases can be used to describe a lot of teachers. There are those who excelled at school. They loved school. They want to do the right thing, and never stop trying to hit the mark. Some teachers are zealots. It doesn’t matter where or when they are, they are talking, doing, thinking, breathing teaching and learning. Some teachers dropped out of high school and understand student apathy and frustration better than anyone. All these folks are in it with all their hearts. They love their schools, they love their students and they love their communities. Incidentally, they also love school supplies.

How is it possible that even with this wildly committed teaching staff, Mr. Abbott feels the need to alienate them, trample on their rights, and generally waste a year and more of energy in order to do…what? The ultimate results of this conflict remain up in the air. What damage has been done? As I often ask my students, “What could you have done differently in order to achieve your goal?”

Teachers are lined up eager to bring about innovation and change. Why isn’t he leveraging their talents and undying energy for their passion – education? All he needed to do was ask. And, throw in some post-it note packs and a stack of books to seal the deal. I laugh or I’ll cry, but this situation is not funny.

Imagine if he’d used the money he blew on advertisements to trash his workforce to support and train professional learning communities.

At the conference this week, I listened to a lot of information on leadership. I did not recognize these patterns of behaviour in Mr. Abbott.

3 thoughts on “Straight A Students, Zealots and Rebels with a Cause

  1. Hi,
    Great blog entry (as usual)!
    So, I am having some of the same questions you are about #geniushour…most students take it seriously and are doing a wonderful job! They are being creative (so important), they are learning (yay) and am becoming independent lerners (wohoo)..but I, too, have a few kids that are not using their time wisely. So…I am thinking about them a lot lately. What do we do? How do we motivate those students? Let me know if you have any new ideas!

    Love learning with you,
    Gallit Zvi

    • Hi, Gallit! Thanks for the encouraging words. I’ve been mulling you thoughts on Genius hour over and thinking of a blog post on the topic. In meantime, I guess the conversation I am having with myself is that I have nothing much to lose with the students who are blowing genius hour off (some or most of the time). I don’t think I am going to change behaviours they have perfected (entrenched) over 8 years of school overnight, but if anything has the chance of doing that, I think it must be genius hour. They are marginal at best with the other activities we are doing, too. I am hoping that they will see the light. One advantage I have is that I will probably have this same group next year, so I can keep building on any gains that I see. I will be reporting to parents about genius hour and so will the students, although as you know, I am not assessing their work. Perhpas some conversations with parents about possible choices might work. I am going to encourage and stay positive with them, because what I am trying to break down is the idea that I am in charge of the learning, and that if they don’t do what I say, they fail. What they usually experience is that they hold out, hold out, hold out, and finally someone will tell them the answer, force them to comply, and they will squeak by with a 50%. This I will NOT do with this hour. In some ways this is the most important hour of the week for these students. Good luck and let’s keep talking and learning. Cheers and have a great week at school!! Kelley

  2. Can it be a coincidence that the forces at work in this country and in Canada are attempting the same things at the same time? There was some footage yesterday of Romney saying that we have to many teachers, firefighters, police. Then there was another, from another right winger defending Romney, saying “you would surprised how many people are actually happy to hear that.” I hope it is not more than the 1%! I am worried, though.

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