25 Random Thoughts on Education

A very popular Facebook note, 25 Random Thoughts About Me, has spread throughout the social network, allowing friends a crazy glimspe inside of each other’s personal lives. Writing them allows people to share random information with each other. Some of my friends have used it as an outlet to let people know some of the more difficult or joyous times in their lives as they are reconnecting with classmates and friends who have been out of their lives for quite some time. Others use it as a vehicle to proclaim their blessings. Touting the wonder of having supportive friends and family to lean on during the chaotic lives we lead. Reading them is fun, pure fun, and great way to start conversations, observe similar experiences and bring compassion to each others lives.

I thought it would be fun to create a more focused list–one that captures the passion of educators. Teachers everywhere have so much to think about. I am sure within all of them there are 25 Random Thoughts on Education. Here are mine:

1. I only had to caculate grades by hand for my first year of teaching; after that we used a computer based grading system.

2. I’ve never been able to write really well on a chalkboard; despite years of practicing at home.

3. Textbooks should be used as a tool; not the main source of content for a class.

4. A school building with a postivie atmosphere is as critical to the success of the students than any standardized curriculum.

5. Standardized tests are painful to administer. I apologized to my students when they were taking the MME last year. We shouldn’t be doing that to kids.

6. The spirit of teaching will never die; despite all of the turmoil and conflict within the system.

7. Teachers don’t really care about money; they would rather have the learning environment support their practice.

8. It bugs me that our district still buys spiral bound grade books even though we have been digital for the better part of 13 years.

9. Every teacher should attend conferences by and belong to professional organizations; especially those that emphasize teaching and learning across the curriculum.

10. Technology has the power to transform education; that said, it is only a TOOL and teachers are needed to faciliate learning far more than they have ever been in the history of education.

11. After 14 years, I still get butterflies the night before school starts in the fall.

12. Connecting with students, watching them grow from immature, whiny freshmen to thankful, compassionate seniors is one thing I will never grow tired of.

13. You do not need to learn things because, “It is going to be on the test”!

14. If you love to learn, your students will love to learn. It is all in the presentation–sell it to them! Passion breeds passion.

15. Tests and quizzes should be a “dip-stick” for assessment of learning. Projects and production, creation and collaboration are the true tests of learning.

16. We cannot assess technology skills through standardized means. The sooner we stop trying, the less frustrated everyone will be.

17. Taking and passing an online course does not necessarily = mastery of technology skills.

18. Faith. It is all about faith.

19. If teachers stop learning, they will become as obsolete as the textbooks sitting on their shelves.

20. The development and integration of my personal learning network has been one of the most exciting, invigorating things I have done to increase my knowledge as an educator.

21. If you have never heard of or participated in the National Writing Project‘s Summer Institute, you should. Hands down–the single best form of professional development. Our local site is the UPWP.

22. Inquiry and Reflection. Two critical practices of a good educator.

23. I love the August and September and the unveiling of the school supplies aisles in the local stores. Despite my obsession with technology, I love a good pen, freshly sharpened pencils and brightly colored sticky notes.

24. I’m in love with my profession; despite all that is ahead of us, it is an amazing time to be in education!

25. Favorite all-time quote:

“I’ve come to the frightening conclusioin that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.”–Dr. Haim Ginott


  1. Thank you for commenting on my 25 Random Things for Innovative Educators post (http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2009/02/25-random-things-innovative-educators.html) and pointing me to your thoughtful and insightful post.
    #2 has always been true for me which I think had a lot to do with me moving to a projector and laptop as soon as possible! #1 resonates with me as I couldn’t imagine calculating by hand. I set up an excel spreadsheet my first year of teaching. That may have been my reason for figuring out excel to begin with. Love and agree with all your “things.” #16 is a big one for me. I try to equate it to the fact that we don’t test “projector,” or “laptop,” or “pen” or “paper.” It is a tool to do work in a modern way. Though I do think administrators and teachers should know how to assess their incorporation of 21st Century skills and I write about some tools to do so at http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2009/02/tools-for-principals-coaches-and.html. Finally, great quote. Who said that? Perhaps you can share it in a comment at my quote post at http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2008/04/ten-21st-century-education-quotes-i.html. It is one of the most Googled on my blog.

    Lisa Nielsen
    The Innovative Educator

  2. mariewestman says:

    #1 Thanks for the tip on the computer based grading program!

  3. russo2009 says:

    I think it’s kind of poetic what you said in 16…

    16. We cannot assess technology skills through standardized means. The sooner we stop trying, the less frustrated everyone will be.

    The really frustrating thing about technology in the classroom is when it is utilized for something other than the actual class. It’s almost like being graded on how well you can use the technology, not about the content of the course. The difference between your class and others I’ve had at NMU is that, like in 361, you explained how to do the final exam, and if we needed help, you told us how to go about doing it. Other courses, particularly geography with GIS and Remote Sensing, they don’t help you at all.

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