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.

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What’s the Significance of Being Noticed

You stand in a room overflowing with people you don’t know. Scanning the edges and center, an uncomfortable feeling settles in your throat. Until a glimmer out of the corner of your eye, aaahh…you connect with a friendly face. The look of delight as you both connect is one of joy as if to say ‘all’s well in the world’. I would dare to say who hasn’t had this experience? Even for the self-proclaimed extrovert, connection matters. We were born to connect and share that with a community (whether it is a community of one or many). Remember the first time you were introduced to your baby? Or first day of class startups (students and staff)? Yes, lots of emotions.

The advent of social media has challenged the concept of community. At an event, do you see heads down, fingers tapping? Or when asked a question the first reaction is to reach for the phone. Those who research the social media phenomena have a host of explanations like Danah Boyd, who commented on how teens view social media (download her book) or Frontline explored the notion on the PBS show, Generation Like. There are also any number of sites focused on the ‘connected educator’ and learning in the social media context. Technology is not the enemy, rather it is an accelerator of things deeper. What links all of these is the human need for connection (face-to-face, online or more likely a blend of both).

Connection affirms our significance in the world. This is especially important in our schools. When we acknowledge the connection (whether they are with our students or our staffs or parents) we offer a place for that individual to shine, to be recognized as a valued member of the community. Their contributions (great and small) are important to our lives. The “You Matter” revolution (by Angela Maiers) is a movement that has taken many places by storm as it resonates at the very core of our being. Whether the result is a promotion of Genius Hour or We Day or a change in how we see ourselves, it all starts with connecting to who we are as individuals, who we are in relation to others, and what we do in response.

In our classrooms and schools, do we notice and give voice to significance? Do we offer that to our parents, our students and our teachers in authentic ways? How much do we believe “You are a genius and the world needs your contribution” (Seth Godin)? What if we started our day with this articulated out loud? I wonder how the day would unfold. Wouldn’t you?

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It Begins With a Spark

Summer is a great time – time for reflection, a change of pace, casual meetups with friends and family. And an opportunity to play around with some ideas that’s been kicking around.  I have a tendency to take summer moments as they happen – dumping aside the calendar and allow things to unfold. It’s the exact opposite of what my life is like the rest of the year.

I’ve been thinking a bit on what drives action – why some ideas pop up, have great promise but wither away; why some ideas are made into realities. And then it hit…it begins with a spark, a connection. (A bit of disclosure here – the term “spark” came from my friend, Bev Ogilvie in her book, ConnectZone.org.) I’ve finally woven the words and image to make it personally meaningful (at least for now).

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What I’ve learned is that sparks happen all around us. Big ones, little ones. The ones that connect are the ones that move into action. It is the action that creates new opportunity for other sparks to surface.  And as ‘learning leaders’,  our job is to look for the sparks in others and allow them to flourish.

What are your sparks? How do you see them playing out in your life? I’d be interested in hearing your stories.

In-Between the Cracks – Questions Spark Genius

dandelion  Have you ever looked at a dandelion? I mean really looked at it from all facets? OK so you have to crouch down, let your imagination flow, and ignore the stares that will obviously come.  In a little while, you’ll get a stream of questions from a group peering over you, “What are ya lookin’ at? Did you lose something? What’s going on?”  This is what happens when you wander the playground during recess or lunch at a school. Sooner or later you’ll get a crowd and then the questions start slowly at first, then a cavalcade erupts as curiosity builds. Admittedly some questions are quite impossible to answer in this lifetime.

I started this partly as an experiment, partly as a idea to find and explain the meaning of beauty and partly to get some fresh air. In all ‘worlds-logical’ a dandelion is a weed and one that takes genius power to eradicate. Yet here it is growing in spite of the odds, in-between the cracks, almost daring you to stop in your tracks. Sometimes I wonder if some of our students are like this, growing in spite of the odds against them. Or perhaps existing until someone takes notice and allow their genius or spark to flourish.  I wonder what would happen if we connected to that little spark – would the outcome change? I wonder what would happen if we took the questions so authentically offered and placed them inside our school walls, allowing them to fill the rafters. Then cradle them gently and give them voice and choice to find their own answers. Then what would happen… I’m feeling that a “learning walk” might be in order.

What do you think will happen?