Breaking Free

Breaking Free

We went through about 12 years of school before college.  Every year, the varnish was put on, polishing up into “A plus learners.” Adding a thick layer of stuff to make us fit into a world that would someday need us to break the varnish off.   For those of us who went into teaching, we took one of two paths… we accepted the varnish that had been put on us, trapping our creativity, our hearts, deep inside and we followed the rules, the standards, and we did things the way they had been done to us.  We had just enough glimpses of following our intuition and hearts to feel alive.  But, the varnish was there.

For others, we peeled away. We sanded.  We had experiences that left huge holes in the varnish, letting it crack away and reveal our hearts through our teaching.  We didn’t fit in.  We were the ones who broke out of the system, who were trying to stop the varnish from being put on the next generation.  We were trying to save them, and in the process save ourselves.

Maybe, the experiences that break you heart also set you free.  You start to get rid of that varnish and you realize, your heart, intuition, and soul is coming out into what you do.  And then? That’s when it feels right.   Then it feels like you can save yourself, save the kids, and save the people who feel like they aren’t creative.  Everyone deserves to pour their souls into their work.  It makes you feel alive.

There’s no varnish remover for that 12 years of school, but the good news is, that creative soul that’s inside you as a kid is still there today. It’s time to break it free and see what happens.

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PokemonGo the future of learning? There is no app for that.

PokemonGo the future of learning? There is no app for that.

I’ve played Pokemon Go.  I’ve shared a few laughs with my family over it.  I even took my daughter to the park to play it in a ginormous “Pokeraid”.  But the claim that it’s the “Future of Learning”? I just don’t see it.

pokemonInteractive tech has already been here.  Google street view and GPS navigation.  Field trips with AR embedded tours in museums. Creating virtual worlds in Minecraft. Interactive whiteboards and watches that track your location. Scanning the environment to bring something to life, hiding a code to link to a video.   There are so many great pieces of technology out there, just waiting for the perfect chance to embed them into a lesson.  Tools.

Maybe I’m just skeptical. Maybe I’ve seen one, two, or twenty bandwagons take off in education and misdirect the focus of well meaning educators who get sucked in.  Maybe I’ve been one of the ones sucked in.   Okay, I’ve been sucked in too many times.

But this? I’m SO glad people are having fun and getting out to enjoy the game.  I had some fun with it, and even got slightly competitive when my husband caught a rare Pokemon and I didn’t have one.  But to say it’s the future of learning?  I’m way too skeptical to say that an app like this is going to come in and change the game.  I believe changing the game is up to us taking a hard look at the fundamentals of what we do.  Our teaching, guiding, lesson planning.  We can acknowledge that our kids need opportunity to move, to design, to create, and to change the world. I won’t buy the idea that catching a Pokemon “in your own environment” is going to lead to design, big thinking, and changing the world. Trust me, if there was, I’d have already installed on it on every single device in my classroom and launched a campaign of “Pokemon for All.”   Unfortunately there is no shortcut, no app, for that.

So, it’s NOT the future of learning… that doesn’t mean it’s not fun.  I’ll keep playing PokemonGo AND also try to make learning right for kids. I can’t give up knowing education doesn’t have a quick fix and I certainly can’t let my husband catch more Pokemon than me.

 

 

Teaching

Teaching

I wrote this quote several years ago and realized how it still rings true.  Teaching is one of the hardest jobs in the world, but it’s also one of the most rewarding.  Although my role has changed and I’m lucky enough to teach teachers, teach students, and teach myself on a daily basis, I’m still a learner first.  I updated this one with some fun colors and a mosaic background, because our teaching life is made of millions of tiny learning moments, melded together into one unique experience that makes us who we are as a teacher.  And that? It’s something pretty special.

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Sometimes The Only Place to Go is Back Where You Started

Sometimes The Only Place to Go is Back Where You Started

selfdoubtHi. I’m Krissy.  When I created my Twitter handle and blog name of ‘Venspired,’ it was never my goal to become ‘Venspired.’ I probably can’t explain it completely, and I won’t try, but there is something said to having to be completely true to who you are to be truly creative.    I don’t want to be a ‘brand’ and it’s time to just be me.

I never wanted a blog where I felt like I had to create something just to post it. I don’t create things because I want to. I create because I have to.  It’s a part of me, like a basic human need of breathing and eating.

Somewhere, long before I even graduated high school, I got caught up in some race.  It was a race, that once I looked around, I realized I was running against myself.  The race to the next thing. The next degree. The next conference. The next school year.  The next checkmark on an achievement that meant something on paper, but nothing in my heart.  I’d like to think I slowed myself down, but the truth is, what stopped me was a series of events, intersections of wise people in my path, and even some unbelievably hard challenges.  And when I slowed down to look around me, I realized how fast I was trying to go.

My days are filled with teaching kids, helping teachers, troubleshooting technology, and dreaming up ways to bring innovation alive in education.  I work with the greatest people and get to play, explore, and push myself to keep learning.  My heart is full.  I love technology, I’m enjoying obsessed with the maker movement, and I feel like I have waited my whole life for people to acknowledge creativity isn’t the afterthought of learning, it’s in the fiber.  I’m still going to blog about those things, not because it’s trendy or I want Twitter followers, but because it’s me.

lightbulbBecause Venspired was really just a made up word, but Krissy Venosdale is that little girl that sat in a classroom when she was 8 years old, listening to her teacher teach another lesson, and she just wished, so hard for most of the day, that it was time to break out the art supplies and create something.  And the only way I can really rescue that little girl is to be that same girl now.

 

Every Single Kid

Every Single Kid

Every single child in your school is a message to the world.  Some speak in writing, some in song, some in code.  Others speak in paintings created with their hands.  Some have a raw talent for crunching numbers.  There’s even a child or ten who has a a deep passion for understanding the stories of our past.  There’s a kid making Origami who can’t get enough of engineering with paper.  There’s a bunch of students who are on a waiting list at the library for the new book in their favorite series.

makersThere’s a student who struggles to see patterns the way others do.  There are kids who see words differently than you or I.  There are kids who don’t want to get messy with paint.  There is a child who is more bothered by the tag on their shirt than any “consequence” you could impose for their meltdown.

There are kids waiting to be something they are rarely invited to be.

Themselves.

Not the kid described in a teacher’s guide, nor the kid that fits in “Class A” or “Class B.”

The kid that is exactly who they are.  What is their message to the world?

You won’t hear it unless you listen. And if you only listen for words, you’ll miss it even more.

We’ve spent forever celebrating a few skills like great handwriting, work completion, memorization.  Sure, those things make for nice looking assignments.  But do they tell the message?

It’s time for the artists, scientists, engineers, twirlers, hallway-skippers, introverts, doers, thinkers, writers, poets, journalists, problem solvers, Lego builders, deep thinkers, water color painters, paper folding, gadget geeking, history researching, language lovers, creative paper airplane designers… and more…  to have a place where their message, in whatever format is their way to share, is not only welcomed, but heard.

Can we honestly say that we’ve honored every kid in every school for exactly who they are? I’m not talking about a gold star or a blue ribbon. I’m talking about the kind of honor where we  help them believe in what they can become.

Until we can all answer “Yes,” with total confidence, in every school, in every corner of the world, we have work to do.   And it’s probably one of the most important jobs in the world, maybe one of the hardest, but it’s definitely the most rewarding.

Learning Is Hard

Learning Is Hard

I’ve written a million things about the struggle in the learning.  I have watched JFK’s Moon Speech with students.  I’ve even hung posters that said “There is great learning in the struggle.”

Ironic.

Because when it comes to a struggle that I am in the midst of, I hate it.  I despise when I can’t figure something out.  Now, the quiet struggle of finding an answer to building something challenging, I’ll take it.  But the big internal struggle when you are learning things with moving parts and to get the whole thing moving, you must fail. Fail. Try. And fail some more.

And it’s hard.

Not like, ‘ouch I stubbed my toe’ hard.  But like, ‘man, I gotta walk away for a bit and come back to this.’ Like, ‘my brain feels stretched.’ But you’re all in, invested, and you will figure it out.

Whoever said, “Mistakes are proof that you’re trying,” was secretly wishing they’d never make a mistake.  In fact, they probably thought by saying it out loud, they’d feel more comfortable making mistakes.

But, that’s a lie.

Learning, as it turns out, is extremely uncomfortable.  Get over it. Embrace it. Despise it. Laugh at it. Admit it. Talk about it. Talk through it. Move past it.  Learning is hard.  It feels impossible. It’s riddled with mistakes and trials.

But if it wasn’t? It wouldn’t be learning at all.

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