Monthly Archives: May 2018

Appsmashing Social Media for Deeper Connections

The best part of social media is that I get to connect with people that are always thinking. Always trying to improve themselves and others. While I like getting likes and retweets there is nothing quite like conversations that keep me coming back for more. One of the recent conversations I had on Voxer was about social media and relationships. Tammy Neil (@tg_neil) dropped this mind bomb. She said, “You need two forms of social media if you are going to know a person well.”

Sometimes it’s the most innocuous statements that have the deepest impact. I began to analyze the friendships that I have made over social media. Most of them started on Twitter or Voxer. (I sparingly use Facebook and only because I help run the NJ AHPERD and Paddle Zlam pages.) When I look at the people I consider confidants I realized the truth of that statement.  I am connected to those people through two or more of the following social media accounts: Twitter, Voxer, Whatsapp, or Facebook. Even within those apps, I am connected to those chums in various ways. Other people use Instagram, Snapchat, and Marco Polo in addition to those previously mentioned!

Being connected to two mediums allows a couple of things to happen. The first way is that most mediums allow a private connection to occur. Almost every day I am messaging either an individual or a group privately on social media. This is where my unfiltered thoughts are posted. I value those people and look for their feedback. Sometimes it is to avoid getting myself in trouble when talking about race while other times it is simply to rant about something that isn’t a big deal to the world but bothers me in some manner. When people are in smaller private groups that they trust they are able to speak freely without worrying some stranger will come and piss on their pee. This freedom allows that deeper connection to occur.

The second thing that occurs is that you see different sides of people. For example, some people only post pictures of their families on Facebook or Instagram. The voice message apps allow you to hear the tone inflection of the person. This also allows humor to show through in a much clearer manner as well. When we read the text we project a lot of our feelings onto the tone of the writer. Voice allows us to hear if they are angry or calmly explaining a point that may be unclear via the written word. The more we learn about another person’s life and invest time with them the deeper connection we make.

There is the risk that social media can overtake your life. I have watched numerous people get carried away with FOMO (fear of missing out) and think they have to have every platform out there. Time is always a limiting factor. The number of people who I feel I have deep relationships is tiny. I would rather go a mile deep and an inch wide that have thousands of “friends” whom I know nothing about. Those people who go 100 inevitably flame out. You simply can’t be everywhere at once. If you don’t believe me watch this video:


If people are using social media simply to learn more about education or any other reason that’s fine. I’m not advocating you do anything you don’t want to. I simply heard a thought that resonated with me. If you believe you know people from social media think about how many platforms you interact with them on. Everyone has multiple sides and every platform has its various. If you want to get to know people at a deeper level you may want to analyze how you are going about doing that. Think about it.




Nate Babcock (@coachnateb) posted this on Twitter. It spoke to me. I enjoy reflecting and this is definitely something I have never saw before nor thought deeply about.

When I look at level one I think of my most basic needs which would be food, air, water, sex, safety. Sometimes I make decisions based solely on those.

Level two reminds me of the I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. I am not above this at all. This makes me think of how I interact at school. I will help the custodians, my principal, other teachers, the PTA because I know at some point in time I am going to ask them to help me. This is not the sole reason but if I am being honest it is definitely in the forefront of my mind. If I help them out I expect their help and support in the future. That isn’t the selfless let me help you because you need it; is the let me help you because I know one hand washes the other. There is nothing wrong with that because I believe that is human nature but it is not the selfless love that we will talk about later.

Level three doesn’t exist so I won’t waste my time on it.

Level four is where I would like to spend some time reflecting. My current journey in the constant effort of bettering myself makes me feel that I am working toward level four. I want to better myself so I can serve others. This is why I am learning so much about intersectionality. There are so many people being harmed that I don’t want to add to it. Instead, I would like to be a force that can help stop the pain that is being caused.

Writing that sounds very similar to being a white savior. My aim is not to “save”people. My aim is to understand how people are being harmed in my school and make sure that I am not harming them as well. Not only do I not want to harm them I want to provide a space where if they are being harmed they can heal or escape from that harm while in my safe area.

In order to accomplish that goal I need to learn and understand the system that I am a part of and how it is harming students. I also need to use my privilege and status as a leader to address this harm when I get a chance. I am not “the answer” in my school. I am simply one part of a solution that takes all of us working together to achieve.

I attempt to keep myself healthy by playing basketball and eating as healthy as I can. I am currently in the process of learning about adult executive functioning and how I can improve mine. This is an area that I have always been weak in and I will start addressing it soon.  This will improve my health and ability to serve others.

I am not living at Level Four. I would guess that most people are a variety of levels. My goal in life is to keep level four in the forefront of my mind when making decisions. Is this benefiting me or others? What am I going to gain from making these decisions? Is it the accolades, the pat on the back, the likes or retweets or is it about me being able to help others.

My challenge to myself is how can we continue to grow our love for ourselves in order to better others. What books or podcasts can we learn from? How can we change our eating habits or exercise routines? How can we expand our social networks to make a larger impact? Most importantly how can I love and serve others simply because it is something I value?



Spheres of Influence

Disclaimer. I wrote this blog and did not realize that each section should be it’s own blog. Honestly this should be a book. My apologies.

What is a sphere of influence? The definition that I would like to dissect looks like this: a field or area in which an individual or organization has the power to affect events and developments. (link) Since this is my blog I would like to talk about the individual (myself) and the power I have combined with others to affect events and developments.

On Twitter the mysterious Sporticus shared this image:


We must first focus on ourselves if we wish to make a change in the world. This makes sense. If I am looking to have a positive effect on the world I must understand what that looks like for me. Am I at my best? What am I doing to learn about myself? How am I going about being the best me I can be? Where am I harming people and how can I stop?

The next step is the impact or influence I am having on my family. My job as a parent is to raise children that can understand themselves and the world around them. This means that anti-racism has to be at the forefront of what I have to offer them. In my house we read Rebel Stories for Rebel girls, have a large library full of characters of color, teach the true story of Columbus, the Civil War, Redlining, and every other piece of American history that has contributed to the hate that we have in this country towards our black and brown brothers and sisters. We model and demonstrate support for every marginalized group including the LGBTQIA community, black and brown citizens, as well as our Indigenous people who have been harmed from day one.

I am not even close to understanding the bulk of what my kids need to learn. They will learn with me as I learn. Most importantly I will make sure they see me having relationships with people that don’t look like them. They enter our house and be treated like every other guest we have. I have many more thoughts about this but not the time to continue. You get the gist of how I influence my kids.

The next circles of influence on the image show fellow citizens and countrymen. I would like to combine that for my purposes and change it to people I come in physical contact with. This can be friends, coworkers, and for me my students. What should my impact be on these people? Right now I have three major ideas I would like to impact on others. The first being that movement is essential to a happy well life. The second is that anti-racism is the responsibility of all of us. The final idea is that we need to make every minute the best we possibly can. This means focusing on being positive, enjoying life, and not sweating the small stuff.

How I vote will also affect my fellow citizens and countrymen. Again there is so much more to write I just don’t have the time.

How do I affect mankind as a whole? This is where I believe everything I have stated earlier combined with social media is how I contribute to mankind as a whole. My own children, my students, and the people I come in contact with will all have their spheres of influence. If I am making a positive impact on those around me that has reverberations that will go further than I will ever know.

This brings me to social media. I now have the ability to impact educators from all over the world. I do this through Voxer, Twitter, Youtube and my blog. If I have changed people’s thoughts towards power structures, movement, the need to be anti-racist, the idea that time is fleeting and we need to love one another my sphere of influence can help change mankind toward the better.

Some of you reading may say your ego is so big. You are one person. How can you change the world? I would argue it is not me doing the changing. I have been influenced by others way smarter and better humans than myself. I am just taking what I learned and repackaging it for others. Together the change can occur. I don’t believe that when I die they will write great poems and books of my achievements. What I do know is that I am learning from and with amazing people who all want the world to be a better place. My job is to shine the light on how we can make life better for others.

To finish this rushed blog that should be a book, I want as many people as possible to use what I am doing to make the change where they are. I am using what others are doing to change where I am. There has to be a tipping point where the change impacts the world. Honestly, what do I have to lose in trying?

The “Y” In You

I just started reading a fantastic book called The “Y” In You penned by the loveliest of people Dene Gainey. What stood out from this book is his C.L.I.M.B.E. philosophy. If you would like to purchase Dene’s book click the link below.

Journey to the “Y” in You

C stands for cultivating the quality of the knowledge seeker. Dene talks about creating an environment where his students are able to explore their passion and creativity. In #Physed, I allow this by using inquiry-based learning coupled with a negotiated curriculum. Instead of giving my students the answers I set up the activities so they can figure out their own answers. My questions may look like, “why did that pass not succeed” or “what allowed you to be successful and score that goal”.

One of the favorite thins I like to do is allow my students to either draw a picture, share a doc, or post something on Seesaw that they want to do. This allows me time to make sure i have the equipment and modify the activity based on our needs. For example, if they want to play Nukem and we are working on the overhand throw I might add multiple balls to the activity and have them call out the name of someone on the opposite side of the net before they use the overhand throw to toss them the ball.

L stands for student leadership. We know that students need to learn leadership skills if they are going to be leaders in the workforce. What better way than to give them a taste of leadership in school! One way that I accomplish this is when students create the games they have to explain and modify the game for class. They stand in front of the class and explain the game to them. They field the questions and change anything that doesn’t make sense before we start playing. Speaking in front of your peers is difficult. The earlier we allow them to start the more comfortable they will feel.

I stand for Inspire. My job is to help students see how movement can help their lives. I do this by allowing the students to see how movement will benefit them. I want them to understand that I am not the reason they should move, they are! I tell them that when they get their heart rate up they are creating new brain cells. We talk about movement as a source of social interaction. My goal is for them to want to move because they find value in movement and not because I force them to.

M stands for Motivation.  I provide the motivation for my students. Usually, this comes in the form of you give me 40 minutes and the beginning five minutes of the next class are games you want to play. For those of you who are confused about motivation vs. inspiration here is the difference:

Motivation is comes through imbibing external factors like rewards, gifts etc. Inspiration comes from within! (link)

I motivate by going around and being positive. I motivate by pointing out when students are succeeding. I motivate by hugging a student when they are struggling. My job as a teacher is to use my power to motivate not hate.

B stands for build. Our job is to build students up. As teachers, it is easy to break kids down. We point out their weaknesses, yell at them when they mess up, give them negative consequences when they aren’t compliant or use our power in a number of detrimental ways. I choose to build my students up. I tell my students of color how handsome or beautiful they are, comment on how I love their natural hair, and ask them if they have looked in the mirror and told themselves how awesome they are.

I am a non-tested area. That means that I can focus more on the affective than the cognitive. Don’t get me wrong. I am a teacher of content that I expect them to learn and master skills but that is secondary to them feeling good about themselves. I focus on making them laugh, pointing out their successes, and explaining how the students that may be physically ahead of them practice that skill outside of class on a soccer team, basketball team, or baseball team. I am there to lift up my students. I am creating self-fulfilling prophecies that will allow them to succeed now and in the future. If I had to choose my favorite letter of this chapter B would be it Fo Sho!

E stands for Enrich/Empower. The main way I do this is by introducing iterations to my gameplay. I will present activities. We play a bunch of rounds with me changing the rules, equipment, distance, or teams. My final builds/iterations are left open to the class. They vote on the rule changes that they come up with. This allows the students to feel that they have a say in the class. In all honesty, their rules are usually better than mine. They come up with twists that make me wonder why I didn’t think of that!

When we allow our students to take control of the activity we are empowering them. They are using the 4 C’s. If we really want thinkers we have to give the students the opportunity to think! Too often we spoon feed them because that is easier for us. The class runs smoother. There are fewer arguments. What we are doing is thinking for them though. That is a problem.

I would highly recommend reading The “Y” In You. This was only one chapter of the book that I broke down!! Think about everything else that we didn’t learn about! As always join our Voxer group if you want to continued the conversation further.

I would like to thank Dene Gainey for being awesome!