I have listened to, been a part of, and thought deeply about the challenge of turning the tide in education. How do we take the great learning we direct through being connected educators? How do we share that with the rest of education? We find ourselves segregated into pockets of connected educators among the rest of the education population.
Not everyone is ready or has the mindset to be a connected educator. That being said, there are a number of remarkable people for us to learn with in the connected world. We live in a day and age where we should be able to share that learning easily, but in many ways, it becomes difficult to create the momentum for changes we see at conferences or in places like Twitter.
So, I am asking you all. I am asking my incredible PLN. No. I am challenging you all. Find ways to expand the pockets. Find ways to create more learning, better educational opportunities, and ultimately a better future for our schools. If you have a way, share it back out with the world. We always talk about how much better we are together, so if we really believe that, then its time to band together and start turning the tide. It is time to band together and start spreading the change beyond our smallest spheres of control.
I admit, I am not sure how we do this, but I do know that if we don’t, nobody will. I heard an idea from Seth Godin’s blog today. We have all the tools to do rather than wish. It is time to DO. Spread the seed of change to those that are not connected.
This week there is a new educational hashtag in the world of connected educators. A place for all of us to start telling a greater collective story. Visionaries like @joesanfilippofc and @tonysananis have talked about telling your school’s story. They have cultivated school and district hashtags, and broadcast the great things about their schools. Not every school had a hashtag. Not every child has access to the powerful messages of great things at their school.
@DrSpikeCook came up with an even more powerful idea. What if we all collected our stories together? What if we take our positive messages that are scattered across the face of the internet, and banded them into a focussed ray of hope for education? What if we took all of that incredible learning, inspiration, and excitement about education, and shared it with the world? Would the power of that message ignite a spark that would lead to incredible new things for education?
It will take all of us, consistently sharing the incredible things our kids do each day that are not measured by testing, to really have a chance to turn the tide. I can only imagine what happens when the world sees just how incredible our kids can be.
Share your children’s incredible learnings at the new #onemeasure
In the past I have talked about finding, developing, and building relationships with a good mentor. While I was talking to some of my stronger connections from the NJ/PA ECET2 Conference,I realized something: as an aspiring administrator, I had already found some incredible mentors. These members of my PLN, some of whom I was spending face-to-face time with for the second or third time, were currently being the leader I aspire to be.
Not only were people like Dr. Spike Cook, Glenn Robbins, Jimmy Casas, and Jeff Zoul (just a short list) administrators that I had connected with, but they all embody many of the special characteristics that I hope to someday hold as an administrator. These are some of the best people I could ever hope to learn from, and they are open and willing to connect and share learning.
When the next step finally materializes and I shift my career from teacher to administrator, I have so many incredible mentors to call upon. Unlike my first journey into the classroom, I will never be alone, struggling to find my footing again. I will always have my PLN to draw on when I need anything!
It has been almost a week since our incredible conference. While I have gained a lot of energy and excitement from the experience, I am still blown away by a self realization made during Dr. Spike Cook’s session: Connected Leadership (by the way check out the book http://www.amazon.com/Connected-Leadership-Click-Corwin-Educators/dp/1483371689/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411766690&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=connected+leadership+is+only+a+click+away)
I realized that I was invited to this incredible conference, chosen to present two sessions, and that I had barely told anyone I work with about the whole thing. I mentioned it to four people, only one asked what I was going to do for presentations. The rest just ignored me as if it did not mean anything. Because of that I said nothing else. I was not proud, not excited (while at school) and certainly not celebrating this incredible and exciting opportunity.
Sometimes being connected can disconnect you from people around you. Sometimes being connected makes you the outlier in your own building. Honestly, I was probably already the outlier, but now I realize it more. I came back excited, invigorated, and a better teacher. We need events like these. We need them to encourage, inspire, and ignite the power of education. We need them to spread those pockets of greatness and work to connect more ideas. Not everyone will be connected, as my good friend @lisguthrie reminded me, it simply is not for everyone. So we must be the conduits for connection. Provide the resources, build the bridges between these pockets of awesome, and push our profession.
I am grateful for this opportunity. Even better, I am proud to say that I was a part of such an incredible event. I now say I presented and attended the NJ/PA ECET2 Conference with the confidence that even if others don’t understand, I do.
Here is my sample writing from my blog session. I promised I would post this one! More reflections on NJ/PA ECET2 to come!
Today I went to the first every NJ/PA ECET2 conference. It was filled with many educators all there for a common purpose. Everyone was there to celebrate and inspire others. There is something to be said about sharing the experience with others. Many of the sessions today could have been shared on social media, video taped and watched, or used as a podcast. They weren’t, nor would they be very effective if they were used in that way.
Recently I read a blog discussing the problems with conferences, detailing issues with cost, time, or various factors. Today at NJ/PA ECET2 I learned many things. I also learned about the power of sharing the experience. The power of conferences is not always the learning, but the inspiration of the experience we share with others.
I took a short time off from my blog. Ironically when I have had so much to write about! In the few days since I last wrote, so many things have happened. I will be writing about lots of them over the next few days.
After 282 posts in 141 days I needed a chance to miss writing. I have written so much in the last few months I forgot what it felt like to really WANT to write!
I took a 5 day vacation from my blog. Even though I needed the refresher from myblog, and more to do than ever, I needed to get back to processing and reflecting on my learning.
I am excited to be rededicating myself to the challenge after my blogcation.
The time has finally come. Last week I was exposed to our whole school. While I have been working on my administrative degree, I have told a handful of people about the different work I have been doing over the past two years. While this was something I needed to do, and should have probably done a long time ago, it is difficult. I have kept a number of confidences throughout this process on both sides (administration and teaching.)
Living in this double world has been difficult, but I appreciate being able to be a support for my friends/co-workers and learn from my administrative mentor. Often times this means knowing things and not being able to talk about them. It means hearing information but not being able to clarify for others. That double standard can be very difficult to live with.
Today I started working on creating the momentum of change. I spoke to some teachers that I work with about making changes to our ELA curriculum in order to create a more cohesive program. I am not sure why, but I was relieved and slightly surprised to find out that my ideas were well received. When I brought up the ideas with some teachers, they seemed to think the concept was a great idea.
With the major event I finished last Thursday, there is no one left in our district who does not know where my path leads. How I continue to develop those relationships and the way in which my peers respond to me will be a positive indicator of my ability to lead.
It seems like Brad Gustafson is a never ending fountain of inspiration. This week, with his topic for #30SecondTake Podcast about maker spaces was great. Each week it is difficult to decide between two incredible educators and of course with Drew Frank and Terri Eichholtz there were lots of great ideas shared.
Usually when I hear a key phrase or idea, it triggers my brain on the topic and I find someone I think deserves the win. This week there was gem after gem of great ideas, but no one hit the one point I was hoping to hear.
In a world where labor, manufacturing, and many other things are becoming past practices, children in the future will need to stop being consumers and start being creators. My are maker spaces important? Simply put, they are an important step toward building creators rather than perpetuating consumers. By giving students an opportunity to create solutions, identify problems, and build upon ideas, we are laying a foundation for kids to become creators. The world needs more creators, more problem identifiers and more development of ideas.
In the end, I think Terri takes it. The space is only important in so much as we value their creativity and imagination. Without those things, adding any tools and spaces for making are not really important, true, but without the direction of developing a culture of creators vs. consumers then we are not really making a difference.
I was working on another post late at night, when on came “The Man of Steel”. At one point, Kevin Costner who plays Superman’s adopted father on Earth speaks to him. This scene caught me tonight despite having seen this movie several times. After some other boys are picking on him, the young Superman wishes he could fight back against the bullies. Costner says, “You just have to decide what kind of man you want to be, because no matter who that man is, good character or bad, he is going to change the world.”
This quote applies to more than just Superman the kid, but all kids! Our actions impact the world in many ways. It is up to us to make decisions that will change the world in a positive way. I spend a lot of time working with young kids about how to respond in the face of anger, frustration, and sadness. I have said the first half of this quote many times to both boys and girls. The second part “no matter who that man is, good character or bad, he is going to change the world” is one that I think really drives the point home.
The kids on our schools will change the world. Some will change the world for good, sadly, some will not. What we do with those children is important. What are we doing to make sure more of our children change the world for good?
The more I use Voxer the more I find myself loving having it as a tool to connect with others. Today I heard a friend, Kory Graham (@tritonkory) refer to Voxer as a digital coffee shop. I would say it is beyond that. When you get a close group of educators together, Voxer is like the most positive version of a digital teacher’s lounge.
While some Voxer groups are more formal, my first and perhaps my favorite group is just a small group of education focussed, twitter friends that engage in an ongoing, free flowing conversation. Sometimes we stray from the normal educational support topics to laughter, other times we share more personal stories that builds an even greater connection. All together our Voxer conversations have provided me with learning, laughter, support, insight into different views, and most likely more!
Voxer can be used as a chat forum, and very effectively. It can also however, be used as an ongoing, free flowing conversation between educators. A permanent teacher’s lounge that allows for the improvement of connections, sharing of ideas, and support on a more personal level than most other social media tools.