Control. Power. Authority. Distance. Conflict. Opinion. Fear. Status.

No matter the lens- whether through personal narrative or qualitative study- wounds endured by some children who attend our schools scar them in deep ways. Words are sometimes used in schools to inflict wounds on children, and even as those words get used, we suffer the irony of those words, on occasion, being turned on ourselves. I’ve often said that children are not our enemy and school should not be a Lord of the Flies game of survival of the fittest- for any child, anywhere.

Choice. Freedom. Democracy. Proximity. Openness. Inspiration. Joy. Adaptation. Accessibility. …


“Hey, Mrs. Moran. How are you today? You having a good day?”

It never fails when I visit the store where Jimmy works that if sees me, even if the length of a grocery aisle, he’ll yell so loud that people are stopped in their tracks. Last night, I could hear him at the checkout counter, greeting every customer with the same exuberant question and laughing with joy. He makes me smile, too, as I ask him about family members and he replies “she’s fine or I don’t know how he is.”

Jimmy has an orientation to life that brings the kind of positive spin that’s hard to ignore. Every customer is a friend. Every bag he packs is an opportunity to interact. He is the grownup version of a child who carried the label of relatively significant lifespan disabilities in school. He also was a cherished child and is now a cherished adult member of his store family. He had his struggles in school with expectations for his very slow and laborious academic work. He remembers me as his elementary principal and I remember my six years watching him grow from five to eleven, caught in time and destined to remain in a perpetual childhood. As educators do, we did have our worries about what life as an adult would be like for him. …


“What do students need to learn to be successful?” Most of us have been in workshops over the years where some version of this question likely has been asked. We record responses and share them with others at the table. We post stickies on chart papers and group them together. We champion what’s most important to us and discuss why. Then we walk away and back into schools where classrooms may often reflect a very different focus with learners than what’s on the sticky notes we just left behind.

Over the years, I’ve been on either side of that question as a workshop facilitator or participant and I’ve seen a pattern emerge. …


Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live. …. (Angus Tuck)

I reread Tuck Everlasting every few years because of this quote. Tuck was published the year I started teaching and it’s become a children’s classic. For me, right now Tuck’s about the sliver of anxiety I feel in still working in a career that’s the same age as the book. I walk my years with Tuck and consider that I will not live forever nor will I work forever. Yet, today I live.

I can only imagine no longer being able to walk into a school; only remembering memories of halls and classes left in shades of gray. I marvel at the sparks of my life’s completeness that came daily for so many years from the background buzz of children’s chatter, the smoothness of ceramic wall tile laid a century ago by men who themselves may not even have finished high school, teens’ art askew on a wall, frames filled with portraits hued brightly, a study of friends, family, or self. …


Everyone knows what that means for our kids — shopping for new shoes, maybe something new to wear, all the requisite supplies on the list from glue sticks to markers, even boxes of tissues to donate to the class supply closet.

Across America, local community members are also filling up parked school buses in front of big box stores with school supplies and others are filling up backpacks to donate to local schools. Some states even are providing sales tax free weekends for families and teachers to shop for what’s needed to run classrooms. …


Of all the dispositions a leader can bring to their work, empathy bonds leaders to the people they serve, particularly those who are different from the leader herself. People live with different challenges, different circumstances of life, different needs, and different ways of feeling and showing pain. A leader with empathy resonates with those who need them to feel, to listen, to respond with understanding, and to care. When empathy is present in a leader, those she serves feel that in their interactions and connections whether words are necessary or not. They don’t feel disregarded or rejected by the leader. …


Songcatcher:

In the ways of the old mountain people of the Blue Ridge, songcatcher simply referred to those who collected songs. I watched the movie Songcatcher recently again and was struck by the fictional story of an effort to catch, before lost forever, the voices of the mountain people of Appalachia. While the story of Lily Penlaric is not based on truth, it is grounded in the real story of Olive Dame Campbell who ventured into the mountains with her preacher husband in the early 1900s. She found herself delighted and entranced by the music, stories, crafts and culture of hardscrabble mountain folks. …


I’ve been thinking about questions.

Have you ever been in a meeting and taken the opportunity to observe what happens when those on the receiving end don’t ask questions or aren’t given a chance to ask questions? We sit silently. We wonder without resolution. We feel disempowered. We fume to self and others. We walk away angry and feeling a sense of no control. Learners in classrooms must feel the same way when their learning is didactic with little opportunity to question.

We are a nation formed from questions. Questions fueled our creativity, our big ideas, our advancement of human rights, our consideration of power and authority. When we question, we learn, we change, we develop different perspectives. …


This was a better Christmas than a year ago when Jon was in the early stages of being flat on his back 24/7 for a full year.

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His travel beginning last October outside the home was limited to being flat as possible in the car seat to go to and from medical appointments. We tried everything from testing spinal cord stimulators for chronic pain to finally a week in the hospital testing out a pain pump including the use of marine snail venom.

Finally, using more traditional pain meds, a pain pump was implanted and after a week in the hospital and 2 weeks in rehab facility in Sept 2018, he was back home. Pain doesn’t ever disappear but oral pain meds are vastly reduced and he’s back in PT working on getting some strength back in his arms and legs and trying to rebuild muscle mass. …


What will you influence this year? When we started the journey to write @TimelessLrng, we wanted to affirm that children relish learning when it’s innately interesting, intriguing, challenging, and attainable.

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We found @TimelessLrng educators take risks to create learning spaces where children experience freedom and power in their learning and build communities with agency — inclusive of both adults and children alike.

As we listened and wrote @TimelessLrng, we saw contemporary, progressive learning design principles emerge that are different from those of past decades of standardization. What made them different? All are anchored in trust — in childhood and children.

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We also have found a global community of progressive educators who understand that @TimelessLrng challenges without creating pain. That it can be complex without being complicated. …

About

pammoran

as an educator I'm for 21st c community learning spaces for all kinds of learners, both adults and young people; comments reflect my personal point of view.

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