Monthly Archives: November 2014

A Tale of Two Pities

You have to take care of Maslow before you can attempt Bloom

A Tale of Two Pities

I left feeling a little down though.  There were two reasons why.  The first reason is that all these great people (excluding @CapeMay10) work at other schools.  The positivity and vision that where we all worked together to create a great atmosphere was gone. The energy that made the event so worthwhile to go to had evaporated.  The fact remains that when I go back to work (which will be December 1) the same school will be waiting for me that was there before EdcampNJ.  My school is a great place to work but we are still in the process of buying into the vision that I believe is the future of schools.  The idea that technology should be used, that sitting for longer than 15 minutes is unacceptable, that Twitter chats and Voxer are pd that are done willingly because this propels us toward best practices.  The people today are already drinking the Koolaid (strawberry or cherry). They have already “seen the light”. They understand that collaboration and celebration create an atmosphere of positivity and fun.

The second reason I am feeling a little down is that I finally understand what it means to stand up for what you believe in. To go against the grain.  Brian Costello (@btcostello) really hammered home the point when told a tale all too familiar to me about teachers who stop talking when you walk in the room.  It is a lonely place sometimes to stand up and say to your coworkers I am not going along with you anymore. I am going to do what I think is best for my students.  Teachers call you a brown noser because you work alongside administration instead of against them. Who think that because you work hard to cultivate relationships with everyone (parents, students, custodians, secretaries, and teachers) you have an ulterior motive.  During the Schoolburger: The ingredients for better schools (#principalplnBIE Session Notes) one of the presenters stated, “you can be comfortable or you can be brave”.  This is true and it is hard to constantly feel like an outcast.

I understand that we are at a crossroads in education. Every day more teachers are realizing being a connected educator is the only way to reinvigorate a career where we are feeling the squeeze from all sides.  We will reach the tipping point where there will be more connected educators than isolationists.

Part of my problem is that so many of my PLN was there today.  The conversations seemed easy and comfortable.  The discussions were passionate and student based. This is what I crave. People who get me, my sense of humor, and understand under the goofiness I love kids. My PLN are educational leaders who put test scores secondary and a growth mindset first. I am invigorated from a day of learning and increased camaraderie while simultaneously saddened by the realization that we still have such a long way to go.

Q1: How do you keep your PLN small enough to have personal contact but large enough to learn?

Q2: Do you ever feel isolated at work because of your views? How do you overcome that feeling?

Q3: How do convince your peers to buy into connected educator vision?

Q4: Does your school’s mission coincide with your personal school vision? What do you do if it doesn’t?

Q5: How do you rope parents into your vision for their children?


If You Are Positive I Am “Attracted” To You!

Teaching is a profession that has been getting hammered across the country.  Teachers get paid too much, our health care costs too much, BOEs don’t want to give out raises, we don’t work summers, some are mean, some are scary, some have warts, and some are hairy.  You have felt the crunch of the Common Core (which I agree with), new math programs, new reading programs, and the mother lode of overwhelming, technology.  There is no wonder that teachers are feeling negative about the profession.

I am hear to tell you to stop.  Stop whining, crying, lambasting the community, your co workers, the administration, the school, the state, the governor, and the country.  Negativity begets negativity.  We are in the greatest profession in the world!  We teach children.  Children who need us to lead them across the path of life.  To model good decision making, citizenship, and caring.  They may not show it but they need us.

They need us to be positive.  To smile, laugh, and engage them.  They need us to be the constant in their life that will be there for them.  Their lives are a mess. Divorce, awkwardness, sports, grades, dating, money, drugs, alcohol, coolness, hormones, and so much more effect them on a deeper level than they ever let on to.  If anyone has ever taken Handle With Care you know that when one party is unstable the other party has to be the rock.  The unflappable source that exudes a calm and pacificity.

How do I keep this aura of positivity in a world that keeps pulling me down? I surround myself with positive people.  If negativity begets negativity the polar opposite is true as well.  (sorry for the weak pun!)  This is why I have limited my PLN to people who are like minded.  Twitter and Voxer play giant roles in this.  A third way I will be increasing my positivity is by going to @edcampNJ.  This is a gathering that my PLN will be heavily represented at.  The atmosphere will be fun and electric.  I will recharge my batteries by seeing how other educators and leaders act and feel.

People feed off of other people.  If you notice you are being negative make conscious choices to change that.  Remind yourself why you were drawn to teaching, read the Holstee Manifesto, and stop hanging around the complainers.  Find people who have the same outlook as you but don’t just agree with you.  Become the dumbest person in a room full of smart people! That will make you realize how much more to learn there is in the world.  Create something with someone. Contribute to the world of education!

I vow to never let the outside pressures of parents, government, leaders and everyone else who makes my life more difficult to get me down.  For every one of those there are 50 children who I can show a productive path towards their goals.  Students who need me to be silly, goofy, weird, loud, open, caring, and fun.  Students who know when I reprimand them I am upset at their behavior and not with them as a person.

They want to know I will be a constant in our relationship.  It is not a friendship but something a whole lot more important.  We are their teachers!

Q1: Are you a positive person in your educational setting? How do you know?

Q2: Do you make a conscious decision about your outlook on life or does it just occur?

Q3: Do the ss/staff pick up on when you are in bad mood?

Q4: How do you decide who to spend your “free” time with inside and outside of work?

Q5: How do you unwind or relax? How do you “forget” school or education?

Twitter ignited my passion, Voxer stole my heart!

When I blog I like to use the world as my muse.  This year I have become one of those “vaunted” connected educators.  Twitter has been mastered. Chats are easily navigated and I can tell who is on the stay connected bandwagon or the down with testing breed.  There is no argument that both those groups are right; however, I have heard it all before.  Sure Twitter is great for getting links to articles, giving out props to people that are doing great things, and discussing the past, current, and future trends of education.  I want more! The time for just talking in 140 characters is over for me.  I have found the next greatest social media.  That social media is Voxer.  Voxer is a San Francisco based mobile app that allows users to leave voice or text messages and pictures for individuals or groups with the push of a button.  (read Tammy’s blog if you want to learn more: Tammy Neil’s blog )

Voxer is like Twitter’s younger brother that watched it play sports and take on life.  It studied everything its brother did and decided that he was going to learn from his older sibling.  #SatchatVoxer is the first example of this.  #Satchat is one of the most respected Twitter chats out there.  It is run by  Brad Currie (@bradmcurrie), Billy Krakower (@wkrakower), and Scott Rocco (@scottrocco).  It occurs every Saturday morning at 7:30 EST.  They do the best job of getting educational leaders to come and discuss relevant topics in education.  This is evidenced by the fact that they have to moderate #satchat using Twubs to slow the chat down! There are so many people that it’s impossible to read the responses before they disappear from the screen!!

They started #satchatvoxer which was a direct offshoot from #satchat. It took those same #satchat questions and spread them out one a day during the week.  Suddenly there was a whole day to discuss the question.  There were no limits as to how many letters or characters you could type.  Educators were able to have in depth conversations about the question. A dialogue or debate could be started.  The light went off in my head. Voxer had just found itself a special place in my heart.  This group of people love education and are always pushing themselves and others to really analyze their roles as well as others in education.

This would be enough for me if the story ended there.  A great social networking app that appeals to lots of educators where they can hear themselves talk. Yay!  But that is only the tip of the iceberg.  The second metamorphosis of Voxer occurred for me when I was put in VoxerEduMatch.  Here I was surrounded by tech coaches, teachers, and administrators who love education.  More importantly they have a thirst for life. Subjects are brought up and dismissed with the most expediency and randomness one could imagine.  People ask for help and there are always others there to jump in and assist.  This group has become my sounding board where I don’t have to worry about censoring myself.  Thoughts come out are discussed, taken in different directions, or argued against.  It is almost like sitting around a campfire talking education with friends and family.

This would be enough for me if the story ended there.  However, I want more from my PLN.  Talking is great but that is still not doing.  This is where my Osama Abujafar (@osama13) helped create #physedME Voxer group.  Physical educators from Asia, Europe, North America, and I don’t know where else, come together to discuss physical education.  They talk about best practices, great lessons, how to utilize technology and a whole lot more.  They meet once a month for Google hangouts and teach each other and the world the newest technology to use in physical education.  I found a group whose whole goal was action.  They weren’t talking they were doing!  My passion for education was being ignited higher than it has ever been before!

This would be enough for me if the story ended there. The final suture that stitched Voxer to my heart was when I met Nick Endlich (@NicholasEndlich) and Adam Llevo @MrAdamPE.  These gentleman were ready to synthesize! They were ready to create new and better ways to teach Physical Education to the masses. Talking was great undertaking is better. We created our first project entitled #soyouthinkyoucanbalance.  This project was created solely by collaborating on Voxer.  It used Twitter to push out pictures, results, and brought it to the masses.  Voxer was the catalyst though.  Voxer allowed voice messages to be instantly transported across state lines, and continents so that we could work together seamlessly to create something new and original. The sheer amazement of that still leaves me in awe right now.  The push of a button can instantly leave my voice, pic, or text to anyone in the world for free!

This is the first of hopefully many projects that will come from use of Voxer.  I still love Twitter and think it holds immense value for educators; however, it has its limitations when it comes to communication.  Voxer fosters such a personal touch that can only be achieved by hearing someone’s voice.

Q1: Why are you, or aren’t you, on voxer?

Q2: What makes Voxer different than Twitter for you? (good or bad)

Q3: How have you used social media to better your role in education?

Q4: How do you see social media changing in the next 5-10 years?

Q5: How can we get our ss to embrace educational social media?