Class dismissed a film about learning outside the classroom

Review: Class Dismissed: A film about learning outside of the classroom

Go see it.

Host a screening and discussion.

Spread the word.

Not just to promote homeschooling, but to bring the discussion of how to make the best options for learning available to all kids to the community at large.

Options. Choice. Multiple paths.

Not one size fits all.

Options that promote imagination, ownership and the love of learning and doing.

There were so many important messages and poignant and powerful moments in the film highlighting questions we as parents, educators and community members can all ask ourselves.

Thanks for a film that delivers the message that you don’t have to be obedient and compliant to a system of schooling that isn’t working for your family. You CAN liberate your family from conventional schooling and live extraordinary lives! Diane Flynn Keith

The homeschool movie team did a brilliant job of synthesizing public education history, diverse examples of folks who have homeschooled or work in education and following a family just leaving school and dipping their toe into self-directed learning and all the questions and emotions that entails. The film was engaging, well-paced and beautiful.

After the screening, Jeremy Stewart took questions from the audience which represented  a range of folks just new to homeschooling as well as parents who homeschooled more than 30 years ago. What stuck me about the questions and answers, was the focus on learning, connecting, and diversity. I wish I had turned my phone on to record the discussion.

Most of the years of our lives are spent outside of the classroom. Thinking about how we can ensure that we all want to continue learning once class is dismissed is a great exercise for all of us.

Go and check their website and Facebook page to find the next screenings and see how you can get involved. Tag. Your it.  Spread the love of learning.

http://www.homeschoolfilm.com/get-involved/

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/ClassDismissedMovie

Huff Post Review: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christine-escobar/class-dismissed-documentary_b_6031592.html

 

Attitude Matters: 10 Attitudes to Spread the Love of Learning

 

Q&AEven when you choose to unschool, as a parent you will have moments when you are the teacher. Don’t worry if you don’t have a teaching credential. The critical elements that make a great teacher are often not taught in college, nor are they required to earn a teaching credential.

So, you may be asking yourself these questions:

How can I be the best teacher for my kids?  As a self-directed learner, how do I become my own best teacher?

How does a great teacher spread the love of learning?

Close your eyes for a moment and remember the best teacher you ever had. Maybe it was in a Sunday school or summer camp. Think of someone who was a great teacher in your life- not necessarily a classroom teacher. It could be a coach, a music teacher, a scout leader, a professor, a parent, a neighbor, a mentor. Perhaps a friend.

Can you recapture the good feeling of that learning experience?   What did you learn? How? What was it about the teacher and how they interacted with you that made it  great?  How did they make you feel? Jot those down.

I have two elementary school teachers that immediately come to mind: Mrs. Willing and Miss Alcott.  I don’t remember any specific anecdote about my second grade class, but when I think of Mrs Willing I  feel  happy and warm and loved and totally accepted, like I can do anything. I recently saw some of the report cards my mom saved from those years.  Mrs. Willing focused on my strengths and I excelled, learning and growing stronger in knowledge, skills and the ability to manage my habits and learning. (Any guesses as to what I needed to work on?)

When I think of Miss Alcott and fourth grade, I smile and remember square dancing with Earl. Earl was tall and skinny. I was short and skinny. And we were overachievers in the square dance set – when they said swing, we were going for lift off. I couldn’t wait for the caller to holler “and SWING YOUR PARTNER!”

I can still close my eyes and feel like I am flying while dancing with Earl, I’m sure my feet must have been off the ground. Miss Alcott and the rest of the class were in hysterics, in a good way. I also remember struggling to have beautiful cursive like my teacher and how she never got mad at me, even when I made so many blotches with my ink and fountain pen. My handwriting improved but is still not great.  Yet I left that class with the confidence that I could learn and improve anything, if I wanted to concentrate on that skill. I remember walking to her house to visit her for years after I was in fourth grade, and still feeling seen, loved, and encouraged.

The nightmare teacher

Okay, now, think of your WORST teacher. What made them the worst teacher you ever had? How did they interact and teach? How did they make you feel? Jot it down.

Unfortunately this one is an instant memory, too. My high school spanish teacher lived to humiliate students. I still feel creepy crawly just thinking of him.  He made a derogatory comment about how my chest size didn’t match my brain size. That sense of heat and dread and embarrassment comes flooding back. It’s a wonder I ever spoke Spanish again.

I can’t forget my piano teacher who said, “Lisa, Lisa, Lisa. It is such a shame. You are my hardest working student but you have no talent. What a waste.” It took years before I played music again. Even though I’ve tried to overcome the devastation of that moment I am much happier and freer moving to the ukulele than I have been able to be with piano.  It’s been more than 40 years and this still gets me. Don’t be that teacher.

Okay, let’s break it down. What can you do to be the great teacher and not the world’s worst? What made me feel great and horrible as a learner had nothing to do with those teacher’s credentials or subject area expertise. There are multiple attributes that can help improve teaching and learning, but the underlying attitude toward the learner is key to setting the stage for learning to unfold.

So, start with creating that feeling of confidence and joy that makes you want to learn and feel like you can learn. Strive to develop these attitudes in yourself, and look for them if you are finding a teacher for yourself or your kids.

10 Attitudes for Spreading the Love of Learning

Accepting. Accepts and loves learner for who are, where they are.

Experimental. Mistakes do not equal failure, they are feedback we can use to give us direction for what to try next.

Calm. Trusts the learning process. Manages emotions, time, activity, and pacing to reduce stress.

Loving. Connects emotionally, loves unconditionally, encourages enthusiastically.

Open-minded. Enjoys learning from all situations and people about all kinds of topics in new ways. Willingness to find new ways that work for learners.

Playful. Shares a sense of humor. Believes learning is and should be enjoyable. Joy, laughter and fun can go hand in hand with learning, hard work, and challenges.

Positive. Sees and build on strengths. Sees potential. Believes that all are capable of learning and growing and that change and growth are good.

Reflective. Practices reflection and analyzes how and what needs to change about self  to improve interaction and communication with the learner.

Respectful. Respects learner’s input and feelings, and empowers the learner. Creates a safe environment for learning.

Responsible. Takes responsibility for own actions and doing what needs to be done, even when inconvenient. Apologizes when needed.

Be the Change: Progress not Perfection

Embodying these ten attitudes to spread the love of learning works for parents and self-directed learners. It is an ongoing process. Sometimes we need to work on how we view and treat ourselves as learners before we can spread the love to our kids. Keep at it.

None of us are perfect. I am sure you will have, just as I do, plenty of what I call “Mea Culpa Moments.”  There will be times you need to slow down and work on rebalancing and basic relationship repair, which is more important than any topic, deadline, or outside  pressure.  How I wish I could undo the times I lost my patience, yelled, and let stress take over and ended up modeling exactly what I didn’t want to teach.

One of the beauties of unschooling and homeschooling is that you have so much more time with your family. You can structure your day to build in the time for mindfulness and reflection. You can choose the activities and company you keep to support your developing the learning attitudes that you want. And when you are in the teacher role, for your kids or yourself, you can aim to be that teacher that leaves a legacy of joyful learning.

What’s your opinion?  Do you need or want an attitude adjustment? I’d love to hear from you.  Send me an email at learningbeyondschool@gmail.com!  Lisa

Is asking for what you need hard for you? Here’s something to help.

Asking is difficult for many of us, but sometimes asking can have unexpected results.

Remember to ask the most powerful questions at LisaNalbone.comNot long after we began unschooling, Dale decided he wanted to start cycling as a sport. Dale was inspired by his cousin’s cycling group when they camped in our town enroute from Foresthill to Disneyland.

 Not really knowing where to start, we began by shopping for a road bike. The bikes we saw were far out of our price range. We realized we didn’t know what we were doing and needed to ask for help.

We discussed our options and decided to ask the folks at our local bike shop Velo-City for advice on finding a decent used bike we could afford. Things were especially tight for us that year.  We talked about what kind of help we needed, and how we could reimburse the people for their time. Next, we called to check to see if the owner, Mike, was in and headed downtown.

Dale asked Mike if he would be willing to spare an hour, at his convenience, to teach us what to look for in order to buy the best used bike in our price range. Dale had been selling his original photos to earn money, and he offered to “pay” Mike for his time with some framed photos. We told him we understood that this might not be something he wanted to do. He showed Mike his portfolio and waited for an answer. Mike agreed, selected two photos, and they set a date.

When they met, Dale took copious notes and brought the requested photos as payment. Mike suggested a variety of places to look for ads and told us to bring ads, or bikes, to him before we bought. He wanted to help us find a quality bike that would work as Dale grew and a be good deal.

Dale followed up in a few weeks with his findings. Mike told him those weren’t bikes worth pursuing. They had more discussions,  and each time Dale took more notes and learned more about the sport. A few months passed without finding a good option and Dale was getting a bit discouraged.  Mike said it was worth waiting for the right bike. He said he had friend who might be willing to sell her extra bike,  which would be just right.

Dale tried to wait patiently. If you know Dale, you don’t usually think of Dale and patient in the same sentence.  We had started searching around Fall Equinox and now we are at Winter Sosltice.

 On Christmas Eve we got a call,  “Can you come down to the store?”

Excited, we gathered up the cash and headed to the store.  When we got there, Mike and his coworker wheeled out a gorgeous red bike they had built from recycled parts and said, “Merry Christmas.”

We were speechless. They wouldn’t accept our money and offered to take Dale on some rides to show him the ropes and make sure he was riding safely. Such kindness and generosity still makes me cry. Thank you Mike Berna and Velo City!

Not all asking is going to result in this kind of fairly tale results, but looking back I can see the process we used might have made the asking and answering easier for both sides.

Asking Tips at LIsaNalbone.comHow to ask steps. 

Here is a four-step process to follow to make it easier for you to ask, and help make it easier on the person you are asking at the same time.

Identify 

Before you start asking, do your thinking. Identify exactly what you need, why you are asking, who you should ask and where and when are the best times to ask. Each of these considerations can make a big difference on whether or not you get the information or assistance that you need.

Clarify 

Clarify your questions. Aim to be  crystal clear. Include a very concise lead up with pertinent background information to set the stage. Craft a very specific request. It is much easier to say yes and help when you know exactly what someone needs. Ask if there is a very quick response or resource the person can point you toward if they don’t have enough time to answer in depth.

Respect 

There are three main points to remember with respect to asking: time, gratitude, and service.

  1. Respect people’s time. Time is precious. Almost everyone feels like they need or want more time. Don’t ask someone else something you can answer on your own. Do your own homework and footwork, first before reaching out to ask others. Honor their need to say no and make no a comfortable option for them.
  2. Show your gratitude. Thank people even if they can’t do what you are asking. It is much easier to ask and people will be more open when there is no judgement attached to the answer. Let there be space for the answer to be “No” without it being a big deal.
  3. Don’t just ask for what you want, ask what you can give. Offer your help, ideas or services. It is much easier to ask when you can also give.

 

Record and Follow-up

Yes, record and write it all down. Keep a list of questions you are interested in so that you can do the pre-asking work that needs to be done. Writing the questions will help you identify and clarify what you need.

Keep notes on who and where you asked and the advice you received. Follow-up with people and let them know how their advice helped you or how you acted upon it. Be concise, but let people know that their answers made a difference.

When you follow-up and show your gratitude you help to build a connection and relationship for the future.

Get Started Challenges for You:

It’s normal to have a zillion questions when you start along the path of self-directed learning.  So, there is no time better than  now to get going.

  • Start your list of questions. Yes, right now. Set the timer for 15 minutes and write.
  • Determine who/where you will ask each question and note that beside your questions.
  • Prioritize your questions. In the next 24 hours ask a question you have been putting off. Which question will it be? 

Guess what? Even when you have been on this journey for awhile, you will still be full of questions! Do you have some tips to share to make asking easier?

I’d love to hear from you. Add your two cents on twitter @lisanalbone or email me at learningbeyondschool@gmail.com so I can add them to my newsletter or here on the blog.

This is a sample of the kind of  information I am adding to the ABC’s of Learning Beyond School Guide. Want to stay in touch?