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First meeting of learning and the brain cohort

August 21, 2011

Last spring, I was selected to be a part of an EE Ford Fellowship Cohort of teachers from various independent schools and the Atlanta Public School System to study Learning and the Brian, and today was our very first meeting.

There are actually two cohorts meeting this year (one is focused on learning and the brain, and the other is focused on assessment). Today, we met as a single group of 20 teachers. We began with one of the most unique introductions I’ve seen. The facilitators asked us to take 15 minutes to construct our mini-sagas, and then read them as our 1-sentence mission statements were being displayed on a projector. So here’s what I came up with in 15 minutes.

I have a crush on science—with it, I know I can find the answer to any question with enough patience, and it shows me a deeper layer of beauty within the physical world. Now I want to share this crush with my students, empowering them to change the world.

And as a reminder, here’s my 1-sentence mission statement.

Here is the full collection of 20 statements—I was deeply impressed by the sense of passion, insight and dedication I saw in my colleagues from these short presentations. Hopefully, we’ll also get the sagas from all of my colleagues posted online somewhere as well.

Following introductions, we did a few activities to unpack our common read, Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath. Then partnered up we set out to develop our own BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) for our year in the cohort. My partner, Jameson, a history teacher at Carver High School in Atlanta, found that despite the fact that on the surface our two schools seem about as different one could imagine, we found many commonalities with students focusing on shallow measures of learning, doing the minimum of what they needed to do to get what they deemed to be an acceptable grade, seeing school as an obligation rather than an opportunity and more. So we decided to make our BHAG about as big as it could be.

Helping students to discover their innate love of learning, while throwing off “schooled” meanings of what learning looks and feels like.

We then had to come up with a 2 minute presentation to help explain our goal, so we came up with this:

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 21, 2011 11:32 pm

    I looked at your BAHG sheets and thought how they applied to my son.

    All the right-hand side applied to my son, but two of the left-hand side did also (“I do it because I have to” for many school assignments, and “School only adds to my stress”, particularly for writing assignments and drill exercises). Most of the learning that’s changed his life has been outside of school, with only occasional exceptions.

  2. August 22, 2011 8:19 am

    Thanks for the post John! I also posted a short description of our first meeting and shared the questions that people generated in their My Sentence slides. I thought this was a very important way to begin our work. There are 20 people gathering who want to change the face of teaching by improving their own instruction. Should be fun!


  3. August 22, 2011 1:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing, John. Having facilitated a cohort two years ago, and then serving on the EE Ford committee this spring, I know how incredible the learning and community here can be. Looking forward to following your learning. (And, by the way, my friend, do you ever sleep…;-))



  1. First meeting of learning and the brain cohort « Quantum Progress | Cais de Abrigo

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