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Jeremy Macdonald: #LeadLearner

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September 27, 2012 03:19 pm


The following post comes from Jeremy Macdonald, a 5th Grade & Instructional Technology teacher at Mills Elementary in the Klamath Falls City Schools district in Klamath Falls Oregon.

Every year we ask our students to stretch themselves; to take risks; to try new things; to step outside their comfort zone. And every year we get frustrated when students are reluctant to do so. Failure is a natural part of the learning process (or cycle — however you want to put it), and it can be intimidating to a lot of our students.

Learning needs to be modeled. The process needs to be evident each and every day in our classrooms. And that means that you and I, as educators, need to fail. We need to make mistakes. We need to ask for help. We need to be vulnerable, and most importantly, we need to actually learn something.

So here is what WE are going to do. Pick a tool — new hardware (tablet, smartphone, laptop, clickers, etc) or a new app/software. Just one. Don’t be an overachiever here. Keep it simple and keep it focused. The key, however, is that it has to be something new; something you are not familiar with; something you haven’t used in class or used with students. If you need some ideas, look back at some of my previous posts.

Think about your learning curve. How long does it typically take you to “get” something? Will this require “homework” on your part?

Set a reasonable goal. Give yourself a few more days (or weeks if it’s a substantial challenge) than you normally would.

Now get started. Don’t plan too much. Learn in class; learn with the students. Let them see you learning along with them. Be uncomfortable and be vulnerable.

For some of us, this may be asking too much. And for those “some,” I say to you, “Suck it up.” (You can quote me on that.) We cannot expect our students to do things that we ourselves would not be willing to do. Our responsibility goes beyond standards and curriculum. We have a responsibility to educate — and to educate, according to its root “educere,” I mean we have a responsibility to “bring out” or “lead forth”. What better way to lead forth than to do so by example?

So go. What are you waiting for? If you need some ideas, let me know. Leave a comment or find me on Twitter, @MrMacnology. If you know what you want to do, let me know as well. Leave a comment here. I’d love to see what others are doing.

Lastly, share your progress. Again, you can leave a comment here, but I’d prefer we start using the hashtag #leadlearner. Share updates on Twitter from time to time. Get others involved and challenge your colleagues to do the same. “Things” don’t change; people change. Go learn and be that change you want to see in education.

Jeremy Macdonald is a fifth grade teacher and instructional technology coach at Mills Elementary in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Mr. Macdonald’s blog posts appear on the second Thursday of every month. Read his previous posts here. Find more information on Mr. Macdonald on his website at You can also follow him on Twitter at @MrMacnology.


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