How Dare You Teach Our Students to Speak Up?!

I used to be afraid of what the next year’s teachers thought.  Of how I would be judged.  Of how they would roll their eyes when I spoke of the dreams I had for my students, of the voice I was trying to give them.  Of how they questioned everything I did.  I still remember the day I was told that I was not helping students, but hurting them instead, and how dared I tell students to question the every education we were providing.

And so I stopped.  For a few days any way as I licked my wounds and cried at home.  Because how I had become that teacher that instigated, disrupted, and told students that if their education was not working for them then they had to speak up.  How had I become a teacher who told students to question?

But my students didn’t.  They still questioned me, stopping me and asking what the purpose of something was, asking if they could do it in a different way, if they could change, break, create, or even skip.  And in their fight for a better education I realized that no matter what the next year’s teachers had thought, I had to support that fight.  That my students had the right to create a ruckus when the education being given to them was not working,

So instead of telling them to just speak up and question, I taught them to do it kindly but persistently.  That there were ways they could ask their questions without being seen as dissenters. at all times  That they had a right to ask and that they needed to involve themselves in the education that was happening to them.  They had a right to an education that would work for them.

And within the courage of my students, I found my own courage.  Reclaimed it and held my head up high again.  Because the question should not have been why I dared to have students question their own education, but instead how I dared being an educator that didn’t…  Where is your courage?

PS:  In my district now this does not happen, next year’s teachers are some of the biggest supporters of student voice that I have ever met.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

Passionate Learners – My ISTE 2015 Ignite

On Sunday, I had the incredible privilege to give an Ignite speech at ISTE 2015.  An Ignite is a 5 minute speech with 20 slides where they automatically advance every 20 seconds.  I have never been to ISTE and I have never given one of these before, so I took a chance and spoke about what it means to break the rules a little…

Thank you to Anibal Pacheco for not only filming this but also posting it to YouTube.

If you are wondering how you can break the rules to create a classroom full of passionate learners, the 2nd edition of my book Passionate Learners is being released on September 22nd!

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

Before You Give Up On “Those” Teachers

We have all heard of them; those teachers.  Those teachers with their negativity.  Those teachers with their fixed mindset.  Those teachers that don’t like children, that don’t like change, that will always, always be the one who says no.  Those teachers are at every school, often with the strongest voices, often with the most power.  And we cannot wait for them to quit.

Yet, before we give up on those teachers, before we push them out, write them off, and definitely talk behind their back, stop for just a minute.  Because those teachers had a dream once.  Those teachers came into this profession wanting to inspire, to change, to create.  They didn’t come to be the naysayers or the ones that brought us down.  They came into this profession wanting to be the very best teachers they could be.  To reach every kid and truly make a difference.  To be the type of teacher that kids don’t forget, that leave their door open,and that try to and try and try.  And yet, along the way something happened.  And that something changed them at their very core.  Changed their dreams and their optimism.  Changed them to become something they never thought thy would be.

And here’s the thing.  We will never know what that something is for a person.  We will never know how many times they stood up and fought until to be broken down.  We will never know how many times they were told to find their place, stay quiet, and keep their dreams to themselves.  We will never know what path they walked to take them where they are now.

So before you give up on those teachers take a moment and ask; why did you become a teacher?  What was your dream?  What happened and what can I do?

Because those teachers are just like us, they just got a little lost.  They don’t need to be pushed out, they need to be re-found.  So do your share, don’t give up, because just like we continue to find new ways to reach all students, we need to find ways to reach all teachers.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

Start Again

I could write about the incredible people I have met.  I could write about how overwhelmed it is to be approached by people that love a project so much that they tell the whole world about it.  I could write about the passion.  The inspiration.  The ideas that have surrounded me at this  conference and in turn have humbled me beyond belief.   But I won’t. Today is not the time, because today is about starting again.

I think we get so caught up in the perceived time periods of school that we forget that we are masters of our schedule.  That we think that change can only come on perceived dates.  That we try our new ideas only when the calendar beckons us to change.  But the thing is with change; it can happen any time.  It can happen anywhere, and anyone can change.

So as I walked the streets of Philadelphia last night and realized just how lucky I am to be a teacher, I realized that perhaps what we all need to do is simply to start again.  That education is not broken but simply needs a new start.  That we all need to get back into our classrooms and try that new idea, pick our pieces up, and put them together in a new way.  That change doesn’t just happen but instead is something we pursue.

Starting again doesn’t require permission.  It doesn’t require approval.  It doesn’t require you to be extraordinary.  It simply requires courage, a first step, and a little bit of perseverance.  And that is something we all can find.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

It’s Really Not About Me

image from icanread

I never thought anyone would read this blog.  I didn’t write for others but instead to keep myself honest.  To put all of those thoughts I had about changing education onto paper so that I would have something to remind myself of the fact that I had to dream of something better than what I was doing.  That the education I was providing my students was not the best I could be and I had no one to blame but myself.  So I started to write about all of my crazy ideas, all of the plans, the dreams, and even the failures as I bumbled my way through the last 5 years of teaching and the last 5 years of writing.

Now, at the cusp of ISTE 2015 and meeting so many people who have helped me throughout the years become a better teacher, and also a better person, I am overwhelmed.  I want so very much to meet everyone, to thank all that need to be thanked.  But more importantly I want to make my students proud.  To carry their words with me as I speak about changing education.  To represent their dreams to the rest of the world so that others may be inspired to change.  To show others that I am nothing special and that if I can change then so can they.  Because this isn’t about me; its about them; the kids and their dreams.  And we can’t forget that.

So if you find yourself in a position this year where you happen to be surrounded by other educators.  If you find yourself at ISTE or somewhere else where education will be discussed, don’t forget it is about the kids.  Not about us.  Not about our egos.  Not about follower count or perceived prestige. Not about all of the great things we can do but about the great things our students can do because we changed the way we taught so their dreams had a chance of survival.  That’s what is most important.  And it is a choice we make, so make the right one.  Keep it about the kids and the dreams they have, not just about your own.  What we do is bigger than us.

My Child Is Not A Struggling Reader

She snuggles in next to me, holds up the book really high and looks at me expectantly, “Ready, mom?”  I nod and off we go, Thea trying to figure out what happened to Daniel Tiger and why he got so upset with his friends.  Every word is a thought. Every word is work.   She uses expression yet chops her way through.  Some words she completely misses, her legs moving, her body wiggling, and guesses fly out of her mouth because her eyes are not looking at the words but instead at the pictures.

Thea could be given a lot of labels.  The teacher voice in my head has a running monologue as she reads checking off the skills she still needs to conquer.  She is a reader that is behind where she should be after her first year in school according to the charts.  She is a kid that fights for every step forward she makes.  And yet, to me she is so much more.  She is a kid who doesn’t give up even when she gets frustrated. She is a kid that knows that she needs body breaks when her brain is processing words.  She is a kid that thrives on the routine of reading every night, not because I told her so, but because she wants to show me she can.  And she loves to read.

She is not a struggling reader.

She is not a failing reader.

She is a reader.  Period.  A kid that is developing their skills at her pace in the way her body and her brain needs.  She is a kid that loves to read even though it can be a struggle.  Yet that very struggle cannot define her.  That label cannot possibly sum up everything she is when it comes to reading.  So why do we continue to call our students struggling readers whenever they are working hard?  Is that really the message we want to send?  That reading is a struggle to them?  Or should we re-frame our conversation and instead empower them with their titles?  How about calling them developing readers?  Growing readers?  How about just readers?

Our students do not come to school identifying themselves as struggling in anything but they leave thinking it.  We give them the language that they use to identify themselves, so how will your students be identified?  You decide…

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.