Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Randy Judkins both entertained and inspired us with his performance tonight.

His question:

Who has made a difference in your life?

The essential question: How do we make a difference in someone's life?

Related resources:

Randy Judkins Home Page
EduEyeView Blog Post on Randy's Keynote


Other Institute news: Mark Spahr will be live blogging sessions at the conference. Check it out here.

Tell us (comment) . . . who DID make a difference in your life?

Photo Credit: Sarah Sutter



I believe that among other things - like the big question of making a difference in someone's life - there is the simple yet potent matter of living the moment, of being aware of people around you, and of actually making, starting, having, sustaining a relationship of some sort with them. I believe that was one of the things we saw or rediscovered tonight.
Oh and by the way, I am planning to practice that nose/ear thing so I can show off to some people I know. :)

Mark said...


Thanks as always for linking to me! My only regret is that I wish I was able to attend all three days. Hopefully we can meet F2F tomorrow.


Jim Burke said...

At heart, as I suspect you already know, I stand with the philosophy
of Dewey, Piaget and the progressives, in that I believe good teaching and learning happens when kids are engaged in what they are doing. I also accept the fact that their development and talents are going to be all over the map. The art of teaching is to find that "hook" that gets them excited and motivated . . . beyond just the
usual carrots and sticks. Now this isn't always easy to do, but I
think teachers should have the freedom to make that possible.

Teaching is a very personal thing. We all approach life differently.
Back in 1960, when I was in 7th grade in the the Town of Mexico Schools, my teacher was Peter Mckenna, and let me tell you, he made more of a difference in my life than any test or assessment I ever took. He knew what engagement was all about and could even make diagramming sentences pure joy. Mr. McKenna read Edgar Allen Poe stories and Jack London and Kafka's Metamorphosis, having us begging for more. We made litmus paper out of math paper and canned blueberry juice for the red strips and dipped it into the restroom liquid soap to make the blue strips. We did goofy skits and pondered philosophical
questions and operated on fractions, all artfully choreographed by
this teacher. Simple enough stuff, but he made it all magical. Do
you believe in Magic? ;) I'm sure we all can think back to a
teacher, or perhaps many, who connected with us and made learning so exciting that we were motivated to investigate even more without any thought of extrinsic rewards.

Any stories?

At the same time, a teacher needs to be a pragmatist to survive.
There is a lot on the plate and compromise and ingenuity is necessary if the institution is to work. It certainly is reasonable for someone with this workload to become a bit surly when being told how to do his job when he/she is in the middle of running helter-skelter
spinning the plates.

In my 32 years as an elementary classroom teacher, I wasn't always
successful in making these connections with students, but I did have the freedom to try . . . and on occasion hit the mark. At the risk of being labeled a reactionary, YES, I do want teachers to continue to have that prerogative. If we lose respect for that, then I worry for the future of public education. Top-down edicts, poorly
thought out and implemented by people who are not closely connected to the local community and the classroom, is not the answer.

Let me quote Eisenhower:

"A distinguishing characteristic of our nation — and a great strength
— is the development of our institutions within the concept of
individual worth and dignity. Our schools are among the guardians of
that principle. Consequently . . . and deliberately their control and
support throughout our history have been — and are — a state and
local responsibility. . . . Thus was established a fundamental
element of the American public school system — local direction by
boards of education responsible immediately to the parents of
children. Diffusion of authority among tens of thousands of school
districts is a safeguard against centralized control and abuse of the educational system that must be maintained. We believe that to take away the responsibility of communities and states in educating our children is to undermine not only a basic element of our freedoms but a basic right of our citizens. "

So what stories do you have? Who made a difference in your life?