Learning on the Edge

We just finished a districtwide Pro-D, where for the first time we squeezed 2000 people into one building. So parking was quite hairy and the deluge of rain didn’t help matters. Once inside, the northvikingbandatmosphere was positively electrifying (thanks to the facilitators and participants). Our opening started with North’s own marching Viking band, keynote Abe Fernández (Director of Collective Impact, the Children’s Aid Society and Co-director of South Bronx Rising Together) and then hundreds of workshops and ‘edcamp-ish’ conversations to choose. My team of three led four sessions – a crazy rewarding day of connected energy.

Here are some things I learned:

  • Building community and togetherness is everything even though the only building that can handle the numbers is a very old one! Crossed our fingers as fuses blew…Comfort Zone Quote
  • New experiences have to be connected to what you understand and then move from there
  • Individuals make personal conscious decisions to learn new things. What is ultimately worth learning is usually difficult and messy. It takes courage to make the leap.
  • Sometimes people will try something only because they know you will support themmyquote_changethelens
  • When you see something with a new lens, you can never go back

Pro-D, while meant as a learning experience, is really an event. How will you carry these sparks and these challenges to thinking into your classrooms or offices? That’s where the magic happens.

Reflections – An EduStory

It was a month of celebrations, of learning journeys that finished but really only just begun. Our ImagineerTech, pilot ePortfolio and Partners in Inquiry groups gathered for celebrations of caring and sharing. There were shared “aha moments” in implementing an inquiry process and watching it unfold with students. But it was the reflective process that connected all the pieces of the puzzle into a living story. Sometimes I think this process is like a conductor that listens intently to all the nuances of the orchestra and draws or softens all the parts so they coordinate both as a whole and as individuals. Assessment in this arena is not “wait until the end applause” but a constant negotiation of the movements of the present. The one thing that one can rely upon is that constant adjustment is a given.

These are their comments captured via “low tech” and gifted to you.

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One Word for 2015

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A new year offers a flurry of activities. Like a book, the pages begin anew ready for anything you place upon it. For those of you who have a New Year’s resolution, plans go into full swing to make it happen. You might broadcast it to your family or quietly commit to take those first steps. Or you may be one of those who throw it all out and consider it just another day. No matter what, the new year does offer an opportunity to reflect and consider a new path.

There has been a movement on Twitter away from full out declarations towards a single word or two (#oneword). A single word to capture the essence for the year; something I think is less daunting than a declared resolution. (I don’t know about you but I’ve broken more resolutions than I can count.) Here are some of the most recent from my PLN: #empower, #intentional, #joy, #appreciate, #less, #change, #facilitate, #focus, #relationship, #trust, #courage, #wonder…   I love all of these. Landing on one has been challenging indeed. In 2012 I used #celebrate (see post). oneword_2015This year I decided on #inspire – to inspire and be inspired. I’m excited about what the pages of 2015 will reveal in ways that one can only imagine. I’m also looking forward to the collaborative conversations (both face-to-face and online), which will no doubt spark those dreams to lift off the pages.  

Come join me in this journey – what is your “one word”?  I’d love to hear from you.

Where the Intersection between Talk and Courage Meet

digitalfootprintWe’ve been working and editing our Digital Citizenship (curriculum dare I say) for a bit now (squeezed in between all the other projects). And I’ve returned to the same conclusion I had at the beginning of this journey. The only thing that is really different is that we access an online environment (switching back and forth like a dynamo). If we dig a bit deeper, we’d see the beliefs are nothing more than the values we already have in our face-to-face world. Values like we respect each other, we respect ourselves and because of that, our actions show it in how we treat both ourselves and others.

The online world has something that our face-to-face world doesn’t have – the ability to communicate and collaborate worldwide in a matter of seconds. This is what social media is all about. Immediacy of connections. And that is where some of the issues may pop up. Once that little publish button, tweet, text or instagram is posted, it cannot be pulled back. The danger lies in the immediacy – no thinking required. Thinking happened when you were writing (or perhaps not). This leads some to say, just block the tools. However, by using technology to block is to give away a teachable moment. A powerful opportunity exists to teach students the ‘what, why, how, where’ of digital citizenship, before, during and after such events. These interactions help build the ‘realness’ of online behaviours and attitudes. In essence, they showcase the true values of each of us. What do we really believe? How do we reflect that in our voice, in our actions, in our learning and growing over time? Are there places where our students can learn and practice these skills?

Social media is here to stay. Digital interactions will increase as people find more uses for it in our daily lives. What we do to answer the questions posed and how we support the digital social learning process is paramount. It is not about the tool. Perhaps the better filter is not an automated one, but one where the student thoughtfully asks: who do I want to be to the global world?

I’d be interested in any thoughts you may have on how you’re negotiating this world with your students or staffs.