my edu180atl post from 5.21.12

The following post was my contribution to the edu180atl project for the 2011-12 school year. During the final week in May, members of the founding team wrote reflections on the power of this learning project and all 180 posts of learning are archived on the site. My reflections centered on the concept of wide-awakeness…something I am trying to grow in myself and also the inspiration for this blog.

Without the ability to think about yourself, to reflect on your life, there’s really no awareness, no consciousness. Consciousness doesn’t come automatically; it comes through being alive, awake, curious, and often furious. ~Maxine Greene 

I have felt alive, awake, curious, and furious this 2011-12 school year. Consuming the wisdom generated from 175 posts, and now creating this 176th post, I have gained greater consciousness about learning and schooling and being in this world.

And I feel wide-awake to possibility.

Maxine Greene’s words about being wide-awake in the world serve as a reminder…and so will the 45,000 words posted to this site from August 1st to May 25th.  Open eyes, open ears, and open hearts allow for learning to happen. The edu180atl project, a small-seed-of-an-idea back in the spring of 2011, blossomed in the fall and has been producing the most diverse and substantive fruit for 175 days. For that I am grateful.

And on this 176th day, I feel wide-awake to possibility.

What if all of our classrooms and teams and schools and school systems sought to cultivate students’ spirit of wide-awakeness — their spirit of wanting to know and learn? What if we educators — both teachers and administrators — sought to cultivate that spirit in ourselves and in others? How might we change? What would the possibilities look like?

If we all had greater consciousness about learning and schooling and being in this world, the possibilites would be endless…for our students…for our selves…for our schools…and maybe even for our society. So, what have I learned? That it’s time to pursue such wide-awakeness with the reckless abandon of being alive, awake, curious, and furious every day. Not just during the 180 days of the school year. Or on the 176th.

About the Author: Megan Howard (@mmhoward), co-founder of edu180atl and passionate learner, is grateful for what the edu180atl project has taught her this year. She can’t wait for August 1, 2012, which will mark the second year of this important and inspiring project.


the edu180atl project and #180voices180stories

The first year of the edu180atl project came to a close today. And after 180 days, 180 posts, 180 voices, and 180 stories of learning, I am better for it. The project, born out of a back-and-forth on Twitter in January 2011 has been a powerful vehicle for nurturing and encouraging the spirits of those who love to learn, connecting learners across the city, and  deepening the national conversation about education over the course of the past 180 school days.

This week, members of the founding edu180atl team took time to reflect on what this project has meant to us (the full posts are linked below). Today, Holly Chesser wrote a post looking toward the future and also sharing what this project has  meant to her. She will be leading the edu180atl team alongside Jennifer Murphy for the 2012-13 school year.

I am proud to have been a part of this project and the edu180atl team.

edu180atl: megan howard 5.21.12:

I have felt alive, awake, curious, and furious this 2011-12 school year. Consuming the wisdom generated from 175 posts, and now creating this 176th post, I have gained greater consciousness about learning and schooling and being in this world.

And I feel wide-awake to possibility.

edu180atl: john burk 5.22.12:

Through the edu180atl project, I’ve connected with countless learners and their stories of learning—stories filled with struggle and challenge, but also fulfillment and joy. These connections make me feel even more empowered to persevere through my own difficulties, and give me a great sense of gratitude.

edu180atl: ted sadtler 5.23.12:

Since August I too have leaned toward the sun, toward the bright spots of reflection and dialogue in Atlanta: students expressing their uniqueness and creativity, adults facing cataclysmic change in their lives, teachers reveling in the endearing moments of their day, parents expressing their hopes for their children. I really do think that the 170+ authors have captured the full range of experience that comes with devoting oneself to a lifetime of learning. And yet, there are so many degrees yet to capture. So I continue leaning toward the brightness of our community’s reflections, waiting with anticipation as the next group of volunteers write, read, comment, edit, and share what it means to be a learner.

edu180atl: laura deisley  5.24.12:

Indeed, it is this kind of spirit that inspired us to create edu180atl — a place where individuals have dared to share, to be transparent, to struggle, to reinvent themselves. By so doing, the hallmark of a healthy community is evolving: empathy for one another. Isn’t that a fundamental condition for learning? People may say education in Atlanta is broken. Institutionally, as a whole, maybe it is. But, I believe. I believe that this edu180atl community is designing a future for education in Atlanta built on empathy.

edu180atl: holly chesser 5.25.12:

This desire to find our commonalities and to appreciate our uniqueness lies at the heart of edu180atl’s mission: “to nurture and encourage the spirits of those who love to learn,” “to connect learners,” and “to deepen the national conversation about education.”

Today marks the sunset of this school year:  post # 180.  Time to seek relaxation and renewal.  But like any good teacher, I’m thinking back over all the posts I’ve read and wondered, “”What’s the take away?  What did I learn?”  In re-reading many posts this week, I discovered a harmonious refrain – a gratitude for those who care, a discovery of something hidden within, and a wish for what could be.  As I tell my students, there’s only one story – the human story – and we each keeping telling it with infinite variation.

Learning @ Lunch with Preschoolers

For the past three days, I have had the opportunity to eat my lunch with some of the preschoolers who stay at school after their normal 11:30 dismissal for “lunch bunch” and afternoon enrichment. Despite an occasional spilled juice or flying spaghetti noodle, it’s been pretty tame.

Today, I ate with a handful of boys and girls and asked a simple question: What did you learn today? With full mouths of food and drink Without hesitation, these kids in Trinity’s three-year-old program and pre-k, began sharing their stories of learning. I even had to get my iPad out to write down all of the things they learned!

Grace told me about “rhyme time” in class and the tongue-twisters she learned along with her classmates. She then recited one for me! I wonder if she’ll gain a greater interest in words as she grows…

David told me about all of the shapes he learned today. The circle, the square, and the diamond. When I asked if the diamond was a hard shape to learn, he quickly said that it wasn’t becuase it was just like a square but different. I wonder if he’ll have the ability to think differently about traditional objects and ideas as he grows…

John told me that he learned about being cooperative and polite in the classroom and on the playground. He told me that “cooperative and polite” were two of the most important words in his classroom. I wonder if he’ll grow into a compassionate leader one day…

Hart told me that he learned that he loved pirates today. When I asked him what he loved about pirates, he said that he loved them so much he couldn’t name just one thing! I wonder if Hart will catch the travel bug and explore the world around him…

The learning that these four children so freely shared (and the wondering that it initiated in my own mind) reminds me of the value of breaking away from typical daily patterns and routines at school. Had I not eaten lunch with these wide-eyed and energetic preschoolers, I would have missed out on hearing about their learning and doing some learning on my own.

What’s a routine you need to break? What learning and wondering are you missing out on that you don’t even realize?

edu180atl: the story begins…

Today’s the day we launch an exciting new project called edu180atl. A member of the edu180atl team, John Burk, wrote an excellent post about this project which was created to focus on stories of learning. You can read the entire post on his blog, Quantum Progress.

The project is edu180atl and the idea is simple: every school day this year, one resident of Atlanta—a student, teacher, parent, or community member—will post a photograph and a 250 word reflection based on the question: “What did you learn today?” These stories, told by kindergartners and college students, artists and mathematicians, and learners of all ages will hopefully help us to remember the the purpose of schools, the deep value of learning, and push us to find and share our own everyday stories of learning.

180 voices. 180 stories.

The mission of the edu180atl project is to nurture and encourage the spirits of those who love to learn, to connect learners across disciplines and settings, and to deepen the national conversation about education by enabling parents, students, and educators to share stories of what they are learning every day.

This project is hugely personal for me—I’ve been a part of it since the very beginning with a conversation on twitter during a very snowy week. I’ve worked on this project with an incredible cohort of passionate educators, and simply been amazed by the rich collaboration we’ve developed through working this amazing, multifaceted project. Truly this project has modeled the learning I wish for my students—connect with others, embrace challenges, design and prototype, learn from mistakes and try again. And already we have much to show for our efforts—just check out the incredible stories of learning from our April beta site.

I can’t wait to see how the story of this project will continue to unfold, and read all the stories of learning that it will highlight.

When will you share your story?