Tag Archives: #education #physed

Super Power

This month I will be utilizing Dr. Will’s (@iamdrwill) #beyouedu subject. Most of my readers know that Dr. Will is the man. He interviews guests inside and outside of education for his podcast. You can catch his show at http://www.iamdrwill.com/. The steak loving fella also comes up with a new blog inspiration every month. This month you can check out his video blog about super powers here. He wants to know what my superpower is and yours as well! Write your blog and post it under #beyouedu

My superpower is my love of being around people. I am an extrovert to the max! I know this because lifehacker.com came up with this definition that describes me perfectly, “Extroverts get anxious when left alone and get energy from social interaction.” That is me in a nutshell. I get a ton of energy from being around people. It doesn’t matter who the people are. It could be young children, old people, people without color, people of color, people of religion, people without religion, tall people, short people, skinny people, not skinny people, people who identify as a gender, people who don’t identify as a gender. You get the point. I want to be around anyone who doesn’t want to harm me in any way. Interaction with people gets me amped. My mood changes and my energy level goes through the roof.

This is clear when you see me teaching. The minute students enter the gym the music is on and we are having a great time. The same is true when I teach health. The interactions feed my soul. I have had a few teachers next door to the room I am in not too happy with the noise and energy levels of my class. It can’t be helped. I want my students to have a great time. When I attend a party I expect music, good conversation, and food in order to have a great time. I bring this same attitude to my classroom. We talk, laugh, and dance. I can’t have food in the room so in the immortal words of Meatloaf, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

Some of you may have been in a professional development with me before. You have seen first-hand what it is like when I am in front of a crowd. It is not the power trip of being a presenter that gets me excited it is the energy that a room full of educators can create. There is something about the interactions of passionate people that make my body feel like I have drunk a gallon of coffee. It’s like being around anti-energy vampires. This must be the feeling that electric cars feel when they are plugged in!

Jarrod Robinson (@mrrobbo) recognized my super power during his keynote at the #peinstitute15. He made the funniest slides showing how I connect with @nicholasendlich and @mradampe. You can check them out here.

During your new edubabble “white space time” reflect on what your super power is.

Q1: Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert? #slowchatpe

Q2: What do you love about being around other people? #slowchatpe

Q3: What do you dislike about being around other people? #slowchatpe

Q4: What age level of people give you the most amount of energy? #slowchatpe

Q5: What age level of people takes the most amount of energy? #slowchatpe

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The Art of Engagement

Becoming a connected educator is the new vogue. It allows you to explore the world of education from the comfort of your favorite internet enabled device. There is a downside to it which is illustrated here and here. Both authors I believe would agree that the positives of being connected far outweigh the negatives because they are still connected educators. This blog is not about why it’s fantastic to be connected. It is about how to engage with people once you are connected.

Let’s dissect the ways we can become connected and how we engage with those people we become connected to. The best way to become connected is at conferences. This could be edcamps, ISTE, district conferences, or anything in between. The art of engagement at conferences are where most educators shine. These connections run very little risk of miscommunications. You are face to face. This allows you to see the person, hear their voice, and pick up on exactly what they are saying as well as how they are saying it. I would imagine most educators are somewhat effective at this type of engagement. We learn how to become active listeners early in our career and practice it every day with students, staff, parents, and other stakeholders.

The next way a lot of educators become connected is Twitter. Twitter has a ton of communication limitations. You only get 140 characters to write, no one can see your face or body language, anyone can see what you post, and there is no tone of voice to gauge where the writer is coming from. In addition to all that, people are jumping in and out of your conversation all the time giving their opinion or versionof the truth from their perspective. I have personally run into multiple problems when discussing sensitive topics on Twitter. People either don’t understand what I am saying or my message comes across in an entirely different manner than I meant it.

I thought this was other people’s problem at first. I know what I was saying and how I meant it. If they knew me they would know this as well. That is where the problem lies. We don’t intimately know the people we interact with. We assume everyone understands what we wrote and why we wrote it. When we engage on Twitter we have to understand that what we say can be taken in from anyone in any number of ways. Different subjects have different levels of sensitivity to different people.

Every tweet must be analyzed from multiple perspectives before we send it out. If your tweet offends someone or a group of people you must look at it and figure out exactly what happened and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Also be aware that Twitter can become emotionally turbulent very quickly. It is hard to emotionally regulate yourself when multiple people are questioning you and your posts. Do not let things spiral out of control by allowing yourself to lash out at people. You only look bad. When you feel emotions start to spiral out of control, step away from your device and comeback later. This will save you a lot of shame later.

Another way people connect is through Facebook, Linked In, or Google plus. This medium allows more characters when posting. Communication may still become a problem when you are engaging with your PLN. You may limit who can see your posts in most cases though. This allows you to control much of your audience. We know with social media though that there is nothing that can’t be viewed by people though. When engaging with your PLN continue to follow all the rules of Twitter. Be aware that not all people know what you are saying and that things can be misconstrued quickly.

A very popular way of collaborating is through Google Hangouts, Skype, or Appear.in. These are all awesome ways to engage because you can see a person’s face when they are talking. This allows you to get a much better idea of how they are saying things. Psychologically (don’t have my psych degree) I think it reminds you that you are interacting with a person. This is not a name with a picture you are typing to. This relieves some of the digital detachment that I myself feel when I interact through the written word.

There are much fewer pitfalls when we engage in digital face to face situations. Emotions seem easier to regulate, the audience you interact with is usually small, and you are able to read you PLN’s facial expressions to get instant feedback. The drawback is that you can only engage with eight people live at a time.

Voxer is my favorite way of communication. It alleviates a ton of the limitations that Twitter has. You can write messages as long as you want, you control who sees your original message, and people hear your voice. Voice inflection is the game changer here. People can hear what you say and how you say it. This assuages much of the communication problems the above mediums have. Jokes and sarcasm come through much clearer. Voxer is where I have had my perspective challenged and changed. It is much easier to have deeper conversations and debates when you don’t have to worry about character limits, abbreviations, or the tone of your message not coming across.

Voxer does have some engagement issues to be aware of though. Any message or conversation could be forwarded by someone in your group to the outside universe with or without your consent. Your voice does convey much more of your message than the typed word but it still doesn’t replace body language. Voxer also allows a much broader stream of consciousness than a lot of the other communication tools. That isn’t always the best thing!!

The art of engagement is much more than the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use. It is really focusing and concentrating on how to get the most out of your PLN in a positive and constructive manner. Engaging with your PLN is an art that has to be fine-tuned. You constantly refine what you say and how you say it. I know I am still working on perfecting how I engage.

Q1: What is your favorite medium to engage your PLN? Why? #slowchatpe

Q2: What is your least favorite medium to engage your PLN? Why? #slowchatpe

Q3: What struggles have you had using social media? #slowchatpe

Q4: What do people do that gets your emotions boiling on sm? #slowchatpe

Q5: Who is in your PLN that you model your PLN engagement after? #slowchatpe

The End is Just the Beginning

This year has been quite possibly the craziest year of my life.  The first life changing moment came when my wife gave birth to our son named Jack.  He is our third child and second boy.  We did not find out the gender of any of our children and each time it was as miraculous as the first.  I watched the miracle of birth in action all three times and after every time I wanted to go hug every woman who had a child and tell them how truly heroic they were.

The second milestone that I hit was receiving my second Master’s degree in administration. Degrees don’t mean people are actually smarter than anyone else.  However, they do open doors that were previously locked.  I never thought I would go the administration route. I was not born to wear a suit to work every day.  I do not want or need power over people.   What I do see is a problem with the school system the way it is.  I see teachers at odds with administrators. I see the public skeptical of a school system that seems antiquated. I see people of color fed up with a society that does not seem to value them.  I see people complaining about transforming education but doing very little to change it.

I will bring a new attitude to the ranks of administration.  I will push for my school to honor the individuality of the student as well as the needs of the community. I will highlight the research that shows how movement inside and outside the classroom is the key to the creation of new brain cells as well as the lessening of negative behaviors.  In short I will, “Be the change that I wish to see in the world.” (Ghandi)  The most effective way to implement change is from the administration side of the rope.

The third change in my life was finding Twitter and Voxer.  Twitter chats allow me to meet new people and keep up with old friends.  I am able to see experts on various topics and get a window into how different schools are run.  The chats are great but very superficial.  Twitter also offers me the opportunity to get links to articles and blogs that help refine and reflect on my pedagogy. Twitter is the gateway drug social media.  It gives you a taste of what being connected can do for you.

If Twitter is the gateway drug than Voxer is the heroin and crack of social media. Voxer hooked me up with the top physical education teachers in the world.  Teachers who are using technology and best practices that are light years ahead of what I am seeing in the classroom.  Voxer also has chats that probe much deeper than Twitter.  There are no 140 character limits. The only limit on Voxer is stop talking when you start to ramble. I find Voxer chats to really delve very deeply into the issue. The voice inflection part of Voxer also allows everyone to really hear the full message of what is being intended. Jokes and sarcasm (my favorite) are much easier to pick up on as well.

That is not the best part of Voxer though.  The best part for me are the book clubs that have been started.  We had a book club on Digital Leadership that Eric Sheniger actually participated in! Rafranz Davis participated in a book club for her book Missing Voices in Edtech as well. She was able to expound upon the chapters and really give us pushback during our discussions.  This week ten people will be interviewing Don Wettrick about his book Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level on Voxer. Another book club that really pushed my thinking was Thanks for the Feedback.  The group of people who participated really forced me to justify my statements. Douglas Stone, the author, participated in a Voxer discussion at the end of the book. I am currently in a Voxer group that is dissecting the book Beyond the Bake Sale.  Another reason to love Voxer!

Voxer has really pushed me thinking to amazing heights this year.

As I reflect on the year I come to one long conclusion. My professional development has gone through the roof and I really need to hone in on the best pedagogical approach for me.  I have learned so much this year only to realize I have so far to go.  This year has exhausted me, excited me, and allowed me to realize the only thing stopping me from greatness is me. What about you?

Q1: What is the biggest change you need to make next year? #slowchatpe

Q2: What was the best pd you attended/participated in this year? #slowchatpe

Q3: Who did you become connected with that blew your mind? #slowchatpe

Q4: What will you be doing this summer to improve your pedagogy? #slowchatpe

Q5: How do you reflect on your year? #slowchatpe