Category Archives: Kristen MacConnell

Kristen MacConnell has a diverse educational background that includes teaching children with learning difficulties, school counseling, school psychology, university teaching, and school leadership. Kristen spent 8 years as an educator in the US before moving overseas to Chile in 2010. She worked at Nido de Aguilas in Santiago, Chile as a School Counselor, a Literacy Specialist, Assistant Director of Teaching and Learning in the Early Years School and finally as the PK-12 Director of Curriculum and Professional Development. Kristen is passionate about empowering children to be curious, solve authentic problems, and learn deeply about the world in which they live. She also loves collaborating with colleagues about teaching practices and engaging in meaningful learning experiences. Currently, Kristen serves as the Director of the Teacher Training center Programs at the PTC . Kristen has presented at international conferences in Latin America, Europe and Asia. She has published for Ed Weekly’s Deeper Learning Blog, The International Educator (TIE), has her research published in the Phi Delta Kappa Journal, and has written book chapters on curriculum based assessment and teacher leadership. Kristen holds advanced degrees in School Leadership (M.Ed.) from the High Tech High Graduate School of Education, Special Education (Ph.D.) from the University of Oregon, and School Psychology (M.S.) also from the University of Oregon.

The Time is Now

There is a moment in the morning when everything feels right. The sun peaks through the trees making the world outside a beautiful shade of gold. There is stillness.

That feeling of calm fades when I start up my laptop. First, I check the school closure facebook groups to see what questions people are struggling with and what new resources and ideas are out there to help. Next, I read through the questions that have been generated on the listservs. There are more questions than answers.

Everything is happening at light speed these days. I have repeatedly heard the phrase from school leaders and teachers, “I am working harder than I have ever worked in my life.”

We are currently living in a time of rapid, iterative cycles of ideation and prototyping. Educators have been plunged into uncharted territory when it comes to teaching and student learning. We are forced to not just grapple with questions we have been asking for years, but to find answers to those questions. Now.

  • “How do I best communicate learning?”
  • “How do I give timely and meaningful feedback for learning to all of my students?”
  • “What is the value of letter grades and percentages when it comes to communicating learning? Are grades and percentages still important?” 
  • “How do I ensure that all students are learning?”
  • “If an assessment practice works in person but doesn’t work virtually, what information does that tell me?”
  • “What is the value of having students sit in a room to take an exam if we don’t think there is a good alternative to demonstrate that learning and cancel exams?”
  • “Have we given students enough voice and choice to keep them motivated and engaged in the learning process without a teacher available every minute to hold students accountable for their learning?”

The time is now. Whether we are ready for it or not. How might we start shifting our “crowd sourced sharing economy” of resources to improve our teaching practice and our students’ learning experiences whether learning virtually or in a brick and mortar building?

We have been presented with a lot of problems that must be answered. Now. Every teacher and school leader is tackling multiple problems on a daily basis. Everyone is testing out ideas. Everyone is getting feedback directly and indirectly. Teachers are getting data from students and school leaders are getting data from teaching faculty. How are we using these data to refine and improve our practices and when we do, how we are sharing our learning with others?

People are working harder than they ever have to ensure learning continues for students. We can not let the stress overshadow the innovation that is occurring. Now. Each teacher and school leader is overcoming immense obstacles. Each teacher and school leader is having to embrace the idea that what he/she is doing is definitely incomplete and possibly incorrect. It is an uncomfortable place to be. We are in the place where learning happens. Now. This learning will be formative.

Each person is rapidly learning new skills and strategies. Some people might not have the time to stop and reflect on all that they have accomplished to date. Some people might not realize they are innovating. Some people might not realize the contribution they are making to the field of teaching and learning. Now. 

My friend said, “I can never go back to the way I used to teach.” Think about that statement for a minute. How has your teaching and leadership practice changed? What is important when you think about student learning? How might we share our rapid cycles of learning so we keep doing what’s best for our students?