Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Making a Commitment

A few weekends ago some smart people got together on Twitter to participate in a New Teachers to Twitter (#NT2t) chat.  From that time together came new connections and so much more.

The conversation started with the importance/necessity of reflection and ended up with a small group of participants making a commitment to share our thoughts/reflections/tips/tricks/absolutely whatever via our blogs.  In simple terms, it meant it's time to blog.

Courtesy: http://pixabay.com/en/lake-water-brightness-reflection-430508/
I mention my personal value of reflection often.  In my experience, it's one of the first things that gets pushed aside at the end of a training/coaching session/meeting/chat/etc.  I believe in the value of reflection on a personal level and want to do it more.  That's why I'm making the commitment to share and reflect more often.  Let me rephrase that, I reflect all of the time already.  I'm making a commitment to document the conversations/journey inside my head more often.  There's an obvious difference between those two things.  Through this I'm hoping for extra clarity, connections, and wisdom.  Who doesn't need a little more of those in their life?

Using the hashtag #NT2tBloggers I'm getting that extra motivation to document and share on a more ongoing basis.  I'm looking forward to the personal and collective journey that will be our hashtag.

I'm ready.

Let's do this, #NT2tBloggers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Spreading the Love

In social media it is at times assumed (and rightly so) that using an anonymous account is nothing but bad news.  We all have seen plenty, perhaps too much, of that already.  But there is also a way to use anonymity in a very positive and uplifting way.

While participating in this weekend's New Teachers to Twitter (#NT2t) chat one of the guiding questions was,

"What are some creative ways to teach Twitter basics and digital citizenship to students before going online?"

That got me thinking about one of the more creative things I have seen on Twitter for a while now: anonymous high school Twitter accounts.  This is when anonymous and social media becomes a positive and powerful thing.  These are accounts run by a student or students who never identify themselves.  These kids then use the account to give compliments to other Twitter users throughout the school year.  When the kids graduate or move on they pass along the log in credentials for the account to a fellow student or students with the understanding that they never let anyone know who they are.  How is that for digital citizenship?

I have run into a few examples from our district and I'm pretty if you look you'll be able to find similar accounts in your district as well.  If you can't find one, start an account yourself or encourage someone to do something like this.  It's a great way to build Twitter literacy, show the power of social media. all while using the power of anonymity in a very responsible way.  

And, most likely, someone's day will be made in the process.  What's not to like about that? 

Monday, January 12, 2015

"Stop"

I was meeting one-on-one with a high school teacher this morning.  She unintentionally provided me with some clarity.  I like clarity.  Clarity is a preference of mine.

During our time together there came a point when she wanted to stop.  She didn't want to stop because she was overwhelmed or "over it."  Those things sometimes happen in traditional professional learning situations.  She actually wanted to stop for all of the right reasons.  She said "stop" (very respectfully, by the way) because she needed time, even if it was just a few moments.

Time to think/rethink.

Time to contemplate.

Time to create a question for me and/or my colleagues or (better yet) create an effective (or more effective) question for their students.

Time to reflect.

Time to retool.

Time to question.

Time to enhance.

Time for clarity.  (There's that word again.)

Time to plan.

Time to explore.

Time to create.

Time to transform.  (That's my favorite.)

She has this right.  I intentionally encouraged this structure.  I always encourage this structure whenever it's possible.  The silence while she thought, created, planned, etc. was truly golden.  This, in my opinion, is truly essential in what we do and how we do it.  If we don't meet with teachers individually or at least in smaller groups it becomes more complicated (and sometimes impossible) for teachers to say "stop" (or at least a version of "speed up" or "slow down") if that's what they need from us at that moment.

It, at the same time, becomes more difficult for teachers to be "done" for all the right reasons too.  Perhaps some of the participants in a large group setting already know and effectively integrate what we're demonstrating.  Small group and individual learning situations naturally allow teachers to advocate for themselves and the students they teach when they need to advocate for themselves and the students they teach.  On the other hand, in large group/large time window situations, if specific needs aren't being met that means the teacher will most likely check out.  That means time to catch up on email.  And I honestly don't blame them for sometimes doing just that.

Creating more opportunities (through small group and individualized professional learning) for our teachers to say "stop" for all of the right reasons is a challenge, but in the end the adult learners we work with will feel empowered.  They will feel like they have some control.  They will be more confident and effective.  And they will intentionally pass along those feelings along to their students.

In the grand scheme of things, I think I might like that the most.