you're reading...
Leadership and Activism, Learning at its Best, Philosophical Meanderings

Now, Go Make It Happen

I’m in the process of rearranging my classroom and taking it back to my Kindergarten roots–comfy areas, lots of hands on stuff (with magnifying glasses nearby) to fiddle with, engaging books all around and making sure there are caves, watering holes and campfire areas. I’ll post pics when finished, but I have spent QUITE a bit of time going through my 9 bookshelves and the memories of read-alouds have been an awesome experience.

Yesterday I re-discovered The Spyglass–not one I’ve ever used specifically with kids, but one I provided for them to read at will. The book description is: “There once was a king who ruled over a darkened kingdom. Crops were planted and then failed, houses were built and then neglected, people were impoverished and dispirited. But when a traveler arrives at the crumbling palace, he shows the monarch his kingdom through the lens of an enchanted spyglass — a spyglass that shows him his kingdom not as it is, but as it could be. The king’s imagination is ignited by the spark of faith, and with faith comes hope and change. By sharing his vision and inspiring his subjects to work alongside him, the king restores his land to glory.”

Last weekend I did an RSCON# keynote and  while the title was “Who Directs the Learning?”  the basic message was that we have to believe in kids and get them to believe in themselves to continue and persevere in the face of difficulty, frustration or lack of support.  We have to help kids know what to do when they don’t know what to do, and make sure they believe in themselves so that they can direct their own learning.

I knew I was successful in connecting with at least one person when Steve Wheeler later blogged and restated part of what he had heard in my keynote–much more eloquently than I did, I think.  He said, “The artistry of a good educator though is to continually engage students in learning, to inspire them to persist in their studies and to transfer their own personal passion to that student’s learning. The art of education is to draw out the very best from learners, to encourage them to excel at what interests them, and to instill this within them so they continue to do so for the rest of their time on this planet.”

What ties the book I mentioned and the presentation and Steve’s words together? The book is about faith–doing something and believing in it. The spyglass shows the world “not as it is, but as it could be,” and the king’s actions inspire hope and change.  Steve’s (@timbuckteeth) words give us our charge–what we so often attempt to do and what we should be doing as educators.  My presentation speaks to those beliefs and shares specific examples of how I have worked to empower students to direct their own learning.

I believe we can revolutionize education.

I see this post as a companion piece to Steve Miranda’s (@reeducate) “How Do Revolutions Happen?” where he says, “The best we can do, I think, is to simply embrace a new way of thinking about school and live our lives according to a new paradigm. If enough people do that, the revolution will happen. That’s how the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution were born. That’s the only way that revolutions happen.”

In negotiating with my CIO to loan me specific technology so I could speak to the use of that specific technology in a November presentation I am doing, he responded, “I’m looking for how we can leverage what you do for the good of Albemarle County Public Schools.”  My response? “Stick a camera in my room so I can turn it on and off and record the lessons.” We could then use those video vignettes to talk about HOW to change education–what structures are in place and need to be in place and the important  parts and pieces of classroom practice that will, indeed help us, as Steve M. says, “embrace a new way of thinking about school and live our lives according to a new paradigm.”

I want educators to be able to see, envision and talk about school “as it could be”, so we can all say to each other, as the wise man did in The Spyglass, “you have seen what is possible.  Now, go make it happen.”

About Paula White

grandma, teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE), DEN STAR, Google Certified Teacher, camper, Gifted Resource Tchr, NETS*T certified, lover of learning


7 thoughts on “Now, Go Make It Happen

  1. A Wisdom-Filled and Inspiring Post Paula,
    That prompts this question, “Is Wile E. Coyote an Optimist or a Healer?”

    You write about revolutionizing education through birthing new paradigms, and the power of enchanted visions to renew hope and ignite collaborative efforts for real change! I love your use of The Spyglass to reach and teach your students. How blessed they are to have you as their early guide to facilitate their discovery of the magic and power of life-long learning.

    I totally agree we CAN revolutionize education by imagining new paradigms and having conversations with others about our ideas. A couple of thoughts regarding paradigms…

    Wile E. Coyote, the Determined Eternal Optimist
    One way many have viewed Wile E. Coyote is that he is perhaps inept (he never catches the Road Runner) and surely a very Determined Eternal Optimist (he always keep trying).

    Wile E. Coyote The Amazing and Brilliant “Healer”!
    Perhaps Wile E. Coyote truly knows that nobody could EVER catch a Road Runner. Perhaps his real intention is to feign dramatic outlandish efforts using his arsenal of mail-order Acme Corporation inventions for one simple reason–to bring laughter and perspective into the hearts of many facing seemingly hopeless situations, thus bringing some measure of “healing” to millions of persons each and every time he “pretends” to try and catch that two-legged “bullet train”– Beep Beep! He opens our hearts and somehow “teaches” our minds a sort of healing.

    Teachers must open hearts before lessons can be heard by minds, let alone take root. It seems to me, you have intuitively known this a long time, perhaps going back to your early days as a novice teacher.

    New Tweet Chat #schools2life (2nd/4th Thurs 8-9pmEDT USA) & LinkedIn Support Site

    If you or your readers are interested, please bring your wisdom, enthusiasm, and paradigms to our new Tweet Chat #schools2life and the LinkedIn support site for discussions at where we discuss the huge transition all K12 students face after school. How can parents and educators collaborate as Leaders to use new paradigms to improve how we can more effectively prepare students for LIFE?

    Thanks Paula for ALL the creative ways you have been teaching to young hearts to open their minds and discover the magic of learning. EdC

    Posted by Edward Colozzi (@EdwardColozzi) | August 6, 2011, 4:19 pm
    • Is Wile E. Coyote an optimist or a healer?

      Little did I know, watching those cartoons Saturday morning in black and white, just how much they would come back to my thoughts later in life. What a great question–thanks for sharing it! Whether he was inept and an eternal optimist, though, or a healer through his silly antics, the outcome is positive and the learning is a lesson in life–and that’s what I love about the “old timey” cartoons. I learned classical music form Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny. My vocabulary was expanded through so many of them–the expectation, through using big words in cartoons, was that kids would learn them in context. The minds that created those classics were intuitive teachers who were simply brilliant, I agree!

      Thomas Jefferson felt strongly that the purpose of school was to give kids the skills they need to handle their own affairs and be a constructive citizen in our democracy. That, in my mind, is preparing them for life, while at the same time getting them ready for college or the workforce. The major difference, for me, is that school was working for the good of both the individual and the community in his/her own life, not some “next step” of work or college.

      Yep, your question is a good one we all need to work on sharing our answers to and doing–“How can parents and educators collaborate as Leaders to use new paradigms to improve how we can more effectively prepare students for LIFE?”

      Thanks for responding Ed–glad you joined us here in the conversations.

      Posted by Paula White | August 7, 2011, 10:40 am
      • Why is education missing relevance? How did those Saturday AM “old-timey” cartoons effectively offer some relevance/wisdom (vocabulary and classical music, etc.) as you suggested? Jefferson and John Dewey both believed in the role of education to provide students with practical skills, taught with relevance to their lives, to later be used by all students as informed citizens, so they could contribute back to their community/nation. I agree with you that we DO need more of a focus in all of education, especially K12, that “works for the good of BOTH the individual and the community”, vs the current more narrow view as you describe as “some ‘next step’ of work or college.”

        The topics of work and the role of appropriate post-secondary education in the lives of our youth and our economy, needs to be discussed and examined more thoroughly, in the context of both STEM careers, and the realities of work roles that need to be filled to sustain our economy and daily living needs. Not everyone needs a four-year degree, but a community college education/training is critical for landing primary labor market jobs these next several decades. Far too many parents and educators push the four-year degree onto youth, and parents and others respond with movies such as “Race To No Where” and “Waiting for Superman” to express their frustration and that of their youth caught up in society’s expectations to “get a good job, own a nice home, and drive a nice car.”

        Work and post-secondary education/training are always going to be an important part of the message and the skill sets that education strives to provide youth. Yet, we are not effectively accomplishing this at the present time. Preparation for LIFE after school (which can include work and post-secondary education/training), must now include different conversations, different curricula, and different teaching modes that effectively result in students’ success in the classroom, in their changing work roles, and in all their career-life roles throughout their life journey. This way, today’s youth can become part of an informed citizenry to deal with the many challenges that face our communities, nation and our world.

        Maybe it’s time we all take time to read your special book for your young students, “The Spyglass”!

        Thanks Paula for making a huge difference, one student, one day, at a time. It really IS about the baby steps! EdC

        Posted by Edward Colozzi (@EdwardColozzi) | August 10, 2011, 3:26 pm
  2. Paula,

    Your post reminds me of the work done at What you have done to your room, based on this fascinating article by Prof. Thornburg (caves, watering holes, campfires), is amazingly similar to what Fielding and Nair achieve architecturally in their conception of what schools can be.

    I know that most of us will never have the opportunity to be in charge of creating our own school, and thus looking into the buildings designed by such a firm will only make us long for what could/can be. However, their process of design, which they (in a tip of the hat to Christopher Alexander’s seminal work on livable architecture, A PATTERN LANGUAGE) describe as “A Language”, is a fascinating concept for all teachers to think about. For just as you have proven, many of their ideas for physical spaces are achievable, if only in spirit or virtually, in our own classrooms. I highly recommend their website for teachers to explore their ideas for spaces and how physical space speaks to us and guides our actions:

    And to connect this, as well, to Steve’s post from yesterday…Yes! The revolution starts at the classroom level and it should be televised.

    Posted by Garreth Heidt | August 7, 2011, 8:40 am
  3. Garreth,
    Thanks for sharing that link–it does have some great concepts to consider as one rearranges space. I especially love the connection to words and how we describe–and think about–our purposes and choices. I wish I had more funds for replacement furniture, but replacing rectangular tables with circles was all I could squeeze out of an already stretched school budget. So, the comfy seating and rugs have come out of my pocket.

    Storage, for a teacher, is another big issue…and my principal has been good enough to let me spill my resources into our “curriculum lab” for sharing. That’s helped a lot to de-clutter my room.

    it’s all about being thoughtful and thinking outside of what we know and have always experienced.

    Thanks again for sharing!


    Posted by Paula White | August 7, 2011, 11:07 am
  4. Paula, this is a great pause post to help us rethink what it is we think we’re about to do this year. Thank you for it.

    I’d like to read The Spyglass to everyone involved in schools everywhere.

    How would you and our CIO help teachers see what they watch? Listen to what they hear? What discontent needs to be leveraged to motivate change, to whom must it belong, and what should be done if we don’t feel it?

    Back from the OBX,

    Posted by Chad Sansing | August 8, 2011, 3:39 pm
  5. “I believe we can revolutionize education.”

    Thank you Paula, my sister,


    Posted by Kirsten | August 11, 2011, 12:21 pm

Join the Conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4,103 other followers

Comments are subject to moderation.

%d bloggers like this: