What Do You Do With An Idea?

What Do You Do With An Idea?


My two-year-old son recently received the book, What Do You Do With An IDEA?  He loves the illustrations and how the story changes from black and white to color.  I love the message that this book delivers.  When my children are ready, I’ll definitely spend time discussing it’s theme.

I also found that this story struck a chord with me, both personally and professionally.  I often have a lot of ideas myself.  For those that know me, you might say I’m sometimes a “flight of ideas.”  In fact, just this weekend my closest friends outside of education teased me about this.  However, this website and blog started with an idea and although sometimes the first step in any journey is the hardest – we just have to start.

This also speaks to the message of the book – sometimes people will think you are silly, foolish, too ambitious, or even crazy – and you need to be resilient, thick-skinned, determined, and not easily discouraged.  I would also add that we need to teach children to be open to constructive criticism, different perspectives, new ideas, reflection, and the capability of iteration.  Of course, rejection doesn’t feel good, but rejection can lead to the next iteration – an improvement, a redesign, a different perspective.  Like in the book, our ideas need attention and love – whether that be research, redesign, time – until our idea is ready to be released.

This process is different for all people and creatives.  As Malcom Gladwell recently examined in his Revisionist History Podcast, some ideas are “perfect” on the first few iterations, while others, take years upon years of iteration.  As educators, the theme in What Do You Do With An Idea?, also speaks to the design thinking process.

Finally, as educators, it behooves us to inspire curiosity in our students.  This starts with a love for learning, understanding the learning process, and becoming self-directed.  If we do not, their ideas – “crazy” or not – will only remain ideas.

Valuable Student Feedback

student growth

Students need feedback, compliments and constructive criticism on their progress and learning process.  If you’re going to dish out compliments, make sure they are not empty compliments to students filled with generalities like, “You’re so smart,” or “Great job!”  Students will value and respect teachers that are honest, fair, and provide (age appropriate) feedback that they can work with, grow from, and understand.  I also believe this will facilitate trust between the teacher and the student so that the child will be more open to constructive criticism and feedback during the times when the student is challenged.

Try the following as examples.

“You did great work on this project because you provided evidence that underscored your arguments. Additionally, you cited more than the required number of sources.”

“These word problems were challenging; you answered a few questions correctly, let’s discuss why.  On some other problems, you made some errors, let’s see if we can find out where you went wrong.”

“It’s not clear what you mean in the highlighted sentence.  Can you reword this? … Are you trying to say _________?  If so, consider rewording the sentence like this ______________.”engage students in opportunities to reflect on the learning process, ask questions, give specific feedback

  • Engage students in opportunities to reflect on the learning process
  • Ask questions of the student
  • Give specific feedback (link to rubrics/expectations)
  • Don’t praise intelligence, rather the specific work
  • Don’t praise trivial accomplishments/weak efforts
  • Encourage reflection, goal setting, and regularly check in with students on progress towards goals

The Why?

The Why.

Why did I start a website and a blog?  There’s so much content on the Internet, does what I create matter?  Does my story, our story, matter?   It may not, but at the very least, it will serve as my opportunity for reflection, accountability, and my contribution to the profession of public education.

I’m writing to showcase the exciting work teachers and students do every day.  I am compelled to share my thoughts, ideas, and reflections on our work – in more than 140 characters.  I’m writing about my decisions and our collective decision making.  This is a process for reflection and to document our growth.  On this site, you’ll also find links to resources that I’ve created and that are worth sharing.  Thank you for visiting my site, reading, sharing your ideas and connecting.  As summer is fast approaching, this will serve as an opportunity for reflection on the school year and for sharing resources that I create.

These Walls Can Talk



Dear Readers,

The blog explained.   In today’s socially connected sharing world, our walls figuratively talk.  In fact, we (collective society at large here) often “post” thoughts on our social media “walls.”  So, today, our walls sort of do “talk.”  Applying this thought and concept to our classrooms, have you ever thought to yourself, wouldn’t it be nice to be a “fly on the wall” and observe a class for the day?  To eliminate the wonder of how Mrs. Smith “does it.”  (Replace “it” with anything you’re curious about, i.e. engage her students, improve student achievement, manage a group of students, the list is almost infinite).  One of my ideas for topics and shared stories of this blog is to answer some of those questions and to ask those questions of others.  To showcase, to share, to reflect on what is happening in our classrooms and the amazing work of our teachers.  I consider myself a very reflective and analytical person, and I’m taking this opportunity (that we all have) to share via the Internet, in what hopefully amounts to a constructive and productive blog and website.

 This an examination of the art of teaching.  Growth mindset.  I and many administrators have the wonderful opportunity to visit classrooms each day.  This is an awesome opportunity to observe and reflect on teaching.  Many of us, including myself, often say something to the effect of, “I am a better teacher today because I’ve had the ability to visit so many classrooms and observe so many master teachers.”  I believe this to be true.  With the Internet giving everyone a voice and the opportunity to share and collaborate.  This is where I plan to share – to share ideas, content that I’ve created, instructional strategies, innovative ideas and practices, and celebrate the positive impact teachers have on our youth.  My hopes are that you’ll enjoy what you read, you’ll pick up a new idea, and we’ll start an intellectual conversation.