Thursday, February 07, 2008

Empathy with Pink

Empathic or Empathetic

First of all, WOW, WOW, WOW, WOW!

On Thursday, I had one of the best experiences in my educational career while I watched my students live blog and discuss A Whole New Mind with its author Daniel Pink. The expectations were high on Thursday as a lot of responsibility was placed on my students’ shoulders. They needed to show up on time, get logged-in to their laptops, and ask meaningful and relevant questions because a lot of people were watching what they were doing including the author who had given his time so generously to this opportunity. The students did all that was expected of them and so much more. I can’t express how proud I was of them and continue to be amazed at what kids can achieve given the opportunity to succeed. They all came in prepared and ready to show the world what they could do.

Mr. Pink logged into MeBeam with no issues, he listened to the inner circle conversation, participated in the live blogging with the outer circle, and to top it all off- wanted to talk with our students as well because he was so excited by what he was hearing them say. It is really fun watching a best-selling author appearing in jeans and a t-shirt in front of all of my students.

Watching this from the outside, I often just stood looking around at all that was occurring and was amazed. Here were my students communicating with a living author of a book they were reading. They were having intelligent conversations about Empathy and the role of empathy/ sympathy in education, in the world around them, and how they dealt in their own lives with empathy. Kids were jumping in and out of the inner circle, they were asking good questions of one another, and the teacher was not even participating. They were doing this all on their own! Although, I couldn’t resist chiming in my two cents a couple of times.

My other great take away was watching the administrators marvel at what these kids were doing. They were so taken back by their level of thought and engagement. I felt such pride in my students to have not only knocked my socks off, but those of the faculty as well.

The technology worked so well for us on Thursday despite all my nervousness. Pink was able to MeBeam in successfully both through the audio and video. He was able to live blog with the students (and I think he was a little take back by the prolificness with their comments- what can I say, they have a lot to say!). As I said previously, he even talked to them at the beginning, waving hi and letting us see where he was. He also had them conduct a little experiment about Empathy, and finally with the last couple of minutes, left them with a message to not always believe authority figures. (That tied in perfectly with what we have been telling our students when reading anything)

We spent some time fifth hour debriefing with what they thought of the combined 2/5 hour classes and having all those kids blogging with Mr. Pink. There were positives and negatives, but overall, the kids expressed such gratitude at having this opportunity. They really got it and I think they will never forget this moment in their lives.

So, thanks to Mr. Pink, Karl Fisch who continues to put all his energy into making this possible, and Maura Moritz for putting up with all this craziness in her class too! WOW!

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