Daily Spotlight on Education 12/19/2008

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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ejr December 19, 2008 - 1:01 pm

You have good reason, Vicki, to be concerned about the negative reinforcement, and I have two observations. First, I appreciate the kid’s comment about feeling noticed even though it’s for something bad. The more complex and globalized our society, the easier it is to be overlooked. I think adults struggle with this as well. We post things on Twitter, in Plurk, in Facebook, in blogs–all opportunities to speak and to be spoken to. And yet how many of us sometimes or often feel as though we are simply talking to cyberspace and wonder if anyone hears us or “sees” us? I confess there are times I feel that way. For these kids who may have tough times at home, we KNOW that the virtual world can be a respite. But if they feel invisible in the physical world, how much more daunting to feel invisible in the virtual world. And that brings me to my second point. Our society teaches them that the way to be noticed is to be bad in some way. Look at what leads in the news and what garners attention in just about every channel: bad behavior. The only way to be noticed for good behavior is by doing something really extraordinary. Most kids probably don’t feel they’re all that extraordinary and I think the vastness of the world, especially the seeming blankness of the cyberworld, is intimidating and scary. So while they may learn a lot through blogging, they also need to know that someone has noticed their learning, has noticed them.

Vicki A. Davis December 19, 2008 - 3:33 pm

@ejr – And that is precisely where the teacher comes into play. It is so important that I read their work, provide great feedback and let them know it is not trashcan work. Also reinforcement for the positive. I (and they) just found it quite telling that “the world” only noticed the “bad” (which I don’t think was bad at all) and heaped tons of criticism w/ out looking at the positive.

I think that is what we’re about today – it is easier to be a drive by criticiser than a drive by encourager! We need more drive by encouragers and it is great for all of the encouragement the students HAVE received – and they have received a lot of positive as well. I don’t want it to sound like all negative, but reading their observations, it hit me like a mac truck that much of the feedback they got was to do something sensational to get noticed!

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