Tag Archives: reflection

Honoring Everyone: Integrating More Than Technology

http://www.districtadministration.com/sites/districtadministration/files/DigWisdom.jpeg

Last week, I attended a one day conference with Marc Prensky where we discussed “Digital Wisdom.” Prensky defined digital wisdom as combining things our brains do well with what computers do better.

This ability, to be digitally wise, is available to everyone today who is willing to integrate technology into her or his life, including students. In fact, students may find themselves having digital wisdom more naturally than others because technology is the only context they have ever known. Students have not had to immigrate from a context of no or minimal technology into a technology-rich context. Instead, students today have been born into a world where technology is constantly available at their fingertips, no longer just a “click” away but literally a touch.

With that in mind, it seems reasonable to question how well we honor students’ experience, knowledge, and expertise with digital wisdom. Especially when students are constantly using technology for a range of tasks in school and in life. Prensky made a comment that any professional development day without kids in the room is a big mistake. Yet, most PD days are scheduled specifically so that students do not attend. Imagine what could happen if we focused not just on integrating technology into the classroom but also students’ perspectives and ideas about technology.

Thought Bubble

I’m inspired by the idea of trying to honor all perspectives: teachers, students, administrators, and families, in regards to innovative teaching methods, which today, often include technology. This fits nicely with my Reggio background and the belief that all children, from a very young age, should be honored and respected as contributors of meaningful and insightful ideas and reflections. As we work to make our early childhood classrooms more child-centered and responsive to young children’s ideas, reflections, and suggestions (about technology in education), we can also be working towards the same goals in older grades.

My hope is that over time, we can strive to honor everyone in a classroom, from the quiet, three-year-old to the verbose, digitally wise student who would like to have her ideas for technology incorporated in the week’s lesson plan. Over the past few years, many schools and teachers have been working hard to integrate technology into their classrooms but maybe in the push/rush to do this, we are forgetting the lessons we teach our students: problem solve, ask for help, collaborate, research, and learn something new everyday. Let’s apply the same lessons to ourselves and with our peers. Our schools are full of digitally wise students (and families, teachers, and administrators!), let’s utilize and honor all of their expertise and experience to integrate not just technology but a range of ideas, passions, and perspectives about how to integrate and why to integrate technology. Maybe then we can have more responsive, passion-directed teaching and learning in our classrooms.

What does your classroom footprint look like?

The Calm Before the Storm

will return slowly sign

Upon returning from my vacation, I started to feel the anxiety building. I began to worry that a frantic storm of long hours of “catch-up” work were ahead. I started to fear that I had just experienced the “calm before the storm” by taking a vacation right before prep-work (orientations, meetings, etc) for the new school year was to officially begin (quickly followed by the first day of school!).

And then I stopped worrying. I started to think instead, about what I had learned while away and disconnected from technology and my work. I remembered the days of patiently watching waves, simply enjoying the sound of them cascading onto the beach. I thought of how lucky I felt to experience the care and compassion of family members who I rarely see. Then, I reflected on the power of patience and compassion, with and for ourselves and our fellow educators (and students). I realized that just because I had created a forced-calm by walking away from my devices and connecting with family and friends for a week, that did not mean that the calm had to immediately disappear. I could actually ease into things and be compassionate with myself by allowing time to readjust to a non-vacation schedule, time to get “back in the groove” of digital connectivity, and more time to reflect on what I had learned while away (and what I want for the upcoming school year).

I was surprised by how freeing this mindfulness of the need for compassion, patience, and multiple forms of connectivity (e.g., digital, personal, familial) felt. Which made me begin to think more about the applications of these traits and ideas for the classroom and the field of education. Have we placed enough emphasis on these “basic traits” when working with our students and colleagues? I know that to some, “compassion” and “patience” may feel like character traits that don’t have to be addressed after the early years but in our increasingly connected world, I wonder if we should highlight them more, regardless of age.

I think it could be beneficial for educators to remind one another to be patient and compassionate with themselves, especially as pressure builds with the start of a new school year. This feels particularly timely given that it’s Connected Educator’s Month. In addition to focusing on ways we can connect globally for collaboration and learning, we should focus on ways we can use our networks to support one another in being mindful of how much pressure we are putting on ourselves to set up the perfect classroom, prepare the “right” lessons, and create the ideal classroom community. I would love to see educators brainstorming ideas to help themselves and their students be patient and compassionate in their learning and communications, even if that means sometimes taking time to disconnect so they can reflect and relax.

How are you feeling about the start of the new school year? Have you connected with a supportive network of educators who can remind you to be patient and compassionate? Any tips you can share?

Taking Time Between Your Timelines – Because #YouMatter

Pocket watch, savonette-type. Italiano: Orolog...

Pocket watch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s that time again, time for one timeline to end and another to begin. We’ve all experienced these transitions, probably over and over throughout life but this time, I want to pause.

I want to take time between the ending of one timeline and the beginning of another to reflect on all that I’ve experienced, accomplished, learned, and shared.

Just a few weeks ago, the timeline of my master’s program came to an end and with it, the even longer timeline of my formal education (for now!). With that ending, came the end of my timeline living in Washington D.C. and the beginning of a new timeline in Philadelphia. In parallel to those timelines, I have been adding experiences and learnings to my professional consulting timeline, which has become the main frame for my work in Philly. And of course within each timeline are smaller timelines, such as Capstone projects or trips to Senegal, and when I stop to think about it, there is truly a lot of change, growth, and learning happening simultaneously in one’s life!

With that in mind, stopping to think and to reflect is exactly what I want to do. It’s so easy for one timeline to fade into the next. For me, transitioning from college to work to graduate school was almost seamless. There was not time (I thought) to pause and celebrate what I had done, consider the change I had created through various campus projects or to record hopes and goals for moving forward during the actual transitions. I often take time throughout my timelines to plan in advance, reflect on my experiences, and think deeply about larger professional goals, which has helped me bring together my various experiences and studies in early childhood, global education, and educational technology in a meaningful way. Yet rarely have I allowed, in addition to that planning and goal-setting, a bit of time for myself between transitions. Now, with the end of another academic timeline and the beginning of new professional experiences, I want to make the time to consider where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going next. I want to carve out time that in the past I have allowed to be so easily eaten up by other priorities (because doesn’t it seem like there’s always another task to finish, bill to pay, or idea to explore?).

Especially in our connected society, I succumb to the pressure to constantly check my email, chat with my Twitter PLN, finish that lingering project and then start a new one because it’s sitting there on my to-do list or popping up in my browser and I don’t want to fall behind. But what if we all take time to put that aside for a little bit and just think about why we matter, about what we’ve done and where we’re going next? As Angela Maiers says, You Matter, and by “mattering”, she suggests you should remember (taken directly from her blog):

  1. YOU ARE ENOUGH
  2. YOU HAVE INFLUENCE
  3. YOU ARE A GENIUS
  4. YOU HAVE A CONTRIBUTION TO MAKE
  5. YOU HAVE A GIFT THAT OTHERS NEED
  6. YOU ARE THE CHANGE
  7. YOUR ACTIONS DEFINE YOU IMPACT
  8. YOU MATTER!

These eight ideas are a lot to process, so that’s why I hope to take the next week or so to actively reflect on each one as I mark the ending of one timeline and the beginning of another. I hope others can take time to pause and notice their own timelines, big and small, because like me, you matter and together we can all encourage one another to remember that and to recognize the value of reflection in times of change.

The Power of a Comment

Kristina B., Creative Commons Attribution.

It wasn’t until I joined the blogosphere that I realized the power of a simple comment. Before I started blogging myself, I would read other people’s blogs and sometimes peruse the comments that other readers had left behind, but I would never stop to comment myself. On one hand, I felt like I didn’t have anything specific or meaningfully to contribute and on the other hand, I just didn’t understand the importance of comments.

Comments are more than words on a page, particularly if it’s a page you have written yourself. Comments are symbolic, they represent the fact that a post you have written affected someone and meant something to the point that the person felt compelled to respond to you. The comment could be a challenge, a compliment, or even a question but whatever form it takes, it holds meaning. As a blogger, a comment helps to remind you that the blogosphere is a “connected community” and you are not alone with your ideas and opinions. That instead, you are part of a larger culture of sharing. This sharing is so exciting! To feel that you can start an idea, publish it, and send it out into the world wide web for others to build on, improve on, and respond to you with new perspectives or contradictions that you can learn from, is amazing.

This is why, more and more, I find myself stopping to not only read other bloggers but to comment on their posts. I hope to convey, with the power of a comment, how much I appreciated their sharing and how valuable I found their ideas. I want to let the blogger know that their post made me think and many times, that I learned something new. I’ve grown bolder in asking questions in posts and even leaving behind a suggestion or two if I have a relevant idea or resource to offer. And in this way, I feel like I can call myself a true part of the blogosphere community, because I have become a participant not just in the publication side but in the dialogical, sharing aspect that truly binds a community and builds a strong foundation of collaboration and caring.

What do others in the blogosphere community think? Is a comment powerful to you?