The Happiness Advantage – need this in your school?

Over the weekend, I wrote a post on the Voices from the Learning Revolution blog called ‘TED in My Classroom‘, with a focus on TED Ed, their latest initiative. I’m still pondering how I might offer something to the project, but I’ll have to mull over it a little more. What they’re looking for is the following:

TED-Ed’s mission is to capture and amplify the voices of great educators around the world. We do this by pairing extraordinary educators with talented animators to produce a new library of curiosity-igniting videos.

I don’t know if I’m one of the extraordinary educators they’re looking for, but I do think there might be something in my bag of educational tricks that might be worth sharing!

What’s in Shawn Achor’s bag of tricks is well worth your time. He’s a very engaging speaker, talking about what he calls ‘the happiness advantage‘; the effect of positive psychology on our productivity and attitude to life. Here’s some text from the transcript of his talk;

But the real problem is our brains work in the opposite order. If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which is your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, what we’ve found is that every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31 percent more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed. You’re 37 percent better at sales. Doctors are 19 percent faster, more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis when positive instead of negative, neutral or stressed. Which means we can reverse the formula. If we can find a way of becoming positive in the present, then our brains work even more successfully as we’re able to work harder, faster and more intelligently.

Just imagine if our focus in schools was on this instead of Naplan tests and My School comparisons? I’d like to see schools value this kind of research and invest time and effort in helping our students understand how their state of mind can effect their performance.

I’m happy and positive after watching this. In my view, 12 minutes well spent in any classroom you teach in. Think about sharing it around.

School’s out Friday

Improveverywhere‘s latest effort, ‘Say Something Nice’, is like visiting an old friend. It’s filmed in Union Square and this was where I caught the subway every day when I visited New York last year. The shoe store in the background is where I purchased shoes for my family. It’s funny living here in Australia and seeing something that is so far away and yet so familiar to me. Here’s hoping I get back there some day. It’s definitely my kind of town.

I’ve had an interesting week. I wrote a post for the VFLR blog called ‘5 Reasons Why Our Students Are Writing Blogs and Creating ePortfolios‘ and it was picked up by Zite, the iPad app that creates a personalised magazine based on your interests. It got a lot of attention as a result and was retweeted from people all around the world. Thanks to John Norton, who helps us with the Voices blog, it was picked up by the Mind/Shift blog in the United States. It was formatted for their readership and titled, ‘Six Reasons Why Kids Should Know How to Blog.‘ The post has been tweeted out 279 times and liked 76 times on Facebook according to the stats running on their page. It was also picked up by Zite. I know it’s being read throughout the US, UK, Finland, Canada, Germany, France and many other countries. Interestingly, it hasn’t seemed to spread too far throughout Australia, and yet the example being provided is from this country. I’d like to see more Australian educators reading it, and sharing it around their networks. I think the message it holds is an important one for our consideration, and for the futures of the young people we teach. I’m in the process of writing a lengthy post detailing how these blogs form part of a wider initiative at my school, and I hope to get it posted in the coming days.

Gorgeous weather is descending on Melbourne tomorrow. I intend to get my fair share of Vitamin D in the process. I hope you get an opportunity like this too.

Enjoy your weekend. : )

New at Voices from the Learning Revolution – Evolution of an Information Junkie

My latest post over at the PLP Voices from the Learning Revolution blog is, ‘Evolution of an Information Junkie‘.

It’s a bit of a reworking of a post originally written here under the title of ‘Divided Attention Disorder – I think I’ve always had it.’ I’m really pleased the piece is getting another airing in the Voices space. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I write pieces I am particularly proud of. I like a turn of phrase I’ve used, the flavor of the writing, the message it conveys. This piece was one of those. I’d always hoped it had received more attention than it got initially, because I think it deserved it.

How things have changed. Three years ago I would never have had the courage to be so bold as to write the paragraph you’ve just read. I didn’t think I was a writer really.

I do now.

How powerful this tiny blog, this vehicle for communication, has been for me. I’m so glad I had the guts to give it a go.

Keeping expertise in the classroom – the Teacherpreneur

My latest post on the Voices from the Learning Revolution blog is called, ‘The Teacherpreneur. They exist. The trick is to keep them in our classrooms.’ It was inspired from my reading of Teaching 2030, a visionary look at what teaching may look like in our near future. It was written by lead author Barnett Berry and co-authored by the TeacherSolutions 2030 team comprised of 12 teachers.

The role of a Teacherpreneur is described as the following,

“teacher leaders of proven accomplishment who have a deep knowledge of how to teach, a clear understanding of what strategies must be in play to make schools highly successful, and the skills and commitment to spread their expertise to others – all while keeping at least one foot firmly in the classroom.” (Teaching 2030)

While you may find the term ‘Teacherpreneur’ a little difficult to deal with, I think the description of the role such a person would play fits the bill of many teachers I know who give to our profession by sharing their practice and demonstrating a way forward. It took me quite some time to put the post together, so I’d encourage you to visit the site and see how I think a role like this can be realised in our schools. It would be great to see people offer some feedback. I’m keen to know what you think of the idea.

Voices from the Learning Revolution

I feel honoured to have been asked to write for the new ‘Voices from the Learning Revolution‘ blog. It’s contained within the Powerful Learning Practice site and has contributors who range from the very experienced to those who are just starting to work with new media in their classrooms.

Voices from the Learning Revolution

Voices from the Learning Revolution

From the site comes this introduction to the contributing voices:

Dolores Gende has been teaching science and math for over 28 years in the U.S, Mexico, Belgium, and the Netherlands Antilles. She is the Director of Instructional Technology at Parish Episcopal School in Dallas where she also teaches Honors Physics. Her award-winning AP Physics website serves as an important reference tool for teachers all over the world. Dolores is a member of The College Boards’ AP Physics Curriculum Development and Assessment Committee, presents at national and international conferences and leads week-long summer institutes for new and experienced physics teachers.

As a district assistant superintendent (West Clermont Schools, PA), M.E. Steele-Pierce works at the intersection of policy and practice where, she says, it’s all personal. She’s an alum of the Harvard Change Leadership Group and is currently learning with the PLP Network. She’s interested in how individuals and systems change. Home is Cincinnati OH where she finds balance in books, film, arts, and slow food. When she was recently called a bureaucrat, she countered, “a creative bureaucrat.”

Ed Allen is a high school teacher and administrator in the Philadelphia area. He firmly believes that learning needs to be networked. He has also been involved in arts education for many years and believes that the arts are critical in schools. Ed blogs at http://imagineteach.org

Bud Hunt

Bud Hunt is an instructional technologist for the St. Vrain Valley School District in northern Colorado. Formerly, he taught high school language arts and journalism at Olde Columbine High School in Longmont, Colorado. He is a teacher-consultant with the Colorado State University Writing Project, an affiliate of the National Writing Project, a group working to improve the teaching of writing in schools via regular and meaningful professional development. Bud is a co-founder of Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation. He reads, writes, and worries about the future of reading and writing and teaching and learning at http://www.budtheteacher.com.

Ann S. Michaelsen is a teacher and administrator at Sandvika High School in Oslo Norway. She has promoted the use of computers in school since 2002, working on the county level to implement the Skillsoft LMS in our 34 schools. Sandvika was Norway’s 2009 Pathfinder school in the global Microsoft Partners in Learning Innovative Education Forums, and Ann presented at the same event in South Africa 2010. She is an active writer of the blog Teaching English Using Web 2.0 where she offers advice to fellow educators.

Renee Hawkins is a 4th/5th grade teacher and Director of Instructional Technology at Garrison Forest School, a nursery-to-grade 12 girls’ school near Baltimore, MD, and co-author of the blog, The Flying Trapeze. A teacher for 28 years, she has taught in the US and Japan and currently lives with her husband in Baltimore County.

Shelley Wright is a teacher/education blogger who lives in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. She teaches high school English, Science and technology. Her passion in education is social justice, global education and helping her students make the world a better place. She blogs in Wright’s Room.

Lyn Hilt is an elementary school principal and technology integrator/coach. She believes in learner-centered, passion-driven educational experiences, and seeks to model for her students and staff the power of connected learning. Her thoughts on learning can be found on The Principal’s Posts and Connected Principals. She lives in Pennsylvania, has enjoyed many world travels, and encourages everyone to adopt a greyhound or two.

Jenny Luca is a Teacher-Librarian from Melbourne, Australia who is passionate about exploring the potential of new technologies in educational settings. She writes a blog called ‘Lucacept – intercepting the Web’ and has presented at conferences in Australia and internationally. Follow Jenny on Twitter @jennyluca

Jennifer M. Jones is an young educator and scholar. She has been in education for four years, teaching secondary students. Jennifer lives in Texas and teaches in at large public high school in the Bryan Independent School District, where she pursues learning and educating with enthusiasm.