I Can’t Go With Them

I have had more conversations around this topic than any other in the time that I have been teaching.  It has looked different, sounded different, and has been reacted to differently.  Yet, my response is always the same.  No, I cant go with them… and would you really want me to?

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Building a legacy for your learners is never about you.  Once you humble yourself to recognize that one simple statement, you will then build up each child so that they are ready to take on the world… with or without you!

EMPOWER!

When I first read the incredible book EMPOWER by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani, I felt like they had been inside my head as they were writing.  It spoke to me… it was an outlet for my thoughts.  The quote  “Student choice is the heartbeat of ownership and empowerment was exactly what I had been trying to say.  I felt vindicated.  I felt… heard.

Do I want a child that can only learn through my method?  My style?  My way?  Or do I want every child learning through their method… the one that shines a light on their strengths and passions.  One that shows their own unique style that they learn to love and appreciate.  A style that they can channel their knowledge and learning through for a lifetime and not for 180 schools days with ME.  Their way… their choice… their voice so that they can learn to make decisions that they are able to own through personal experience.

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Empowerment is one of the most exciting words for a human-being, yet it scares the pants off of most.  This struggle is so real for educators.  You must be willing to take the RISK… but no one is saying you have to do it alone!  Or worse off without preparation or backing.  This is where I reach out… to a new book, a Twitter Chat, my PLN built by ME!  I am only alone if I chose to be (Not so much the exact quote of George Couros, but the truth is embedded)… there are educators around the world ready to support me at the drop of a hat because I have empowered myself to build these relationships.

This mindset is the same for my students.  One that they must be flipped for and by themselves within the first few weeks of having me.  It is scary for them.  It is exciting for them.  It is messy.  It is CHAOTIC.   AND at times like herding cats, but…

We must breakdown their mindset of compliance before we can build up EMPOWERMENT in their learning! 

I create this opportunity for my students with the 30 Second Pitch… it encompasses Mindset, Research, Connect4, and their Moment all wrapped up in one.  They must plan and pitch their idea to me in 30 seconds or less.  Not an easy task, but it takes them from

MAY I

to

I CAN

in one shift to their learning.

“Common” phrase: You Are The Voice

Microsoft got it right with one single commercial!

“Today, right now you have more power at your fingertips than entire generations that came before you.  Think about that.  That’s what technology really is”.  -Microsoft AI Commercial featuring Common (American rapper, actor and author)

In the last few months I have watched technology blossom in my classroom, take hold of my learning, rival within my home, and have a lifetime of impact for one very special woman in my life.

One change… one common bond.

All it took was a reluctant switch from a flip phone to a Smartphone.  Technology at its finest.

Most recently my beautiful mother in law, Sandy Nan, passed away.  Over the last two years her life as she once knew and thrived in changed dramatically.  She finally retired after 52 years of service as secretary in the Hopewell Area School District just over 2 years ago.  This was a decision her body made, not her mind (with the help of my wise father-in-law).  Once retired, she attempted to put on her beautiful smile and embrace the golden years everyone had spoken so fondly of… but distance from her work family left a void in her life that no one could quite fill.

It was the day to day interactions…

Hello! 

How’s it goin?

How’s your day?

These may seem small to some, but for mom they were everything and now she was disconnected in a connected world.  I tried several times to tell her the advantages of a smartphone, but whether it was fear or her simple stubborn ways, she continued to say no.

Then the day came… the change.  The message…

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Yes, mom’s first text to me!  I remember cooking dinner and hearing an alert on my phone.  The smile she pasted on my face had to of matched hers… and that was big!

This was just the beginning.  She soon connected with old friends.  It was a common occurrence to hear my 15 year old son Trent say, “Mom, Nana messaged me today and just made me smile” or “Mom, I’m heading to Nana’s… I just messaged her that I was coming”.  Not to mention the convenience of scheduling visits with loved ones or simply sending a fun emoji to brighten someone’s day.  That is what she missed most… her impact on others… she was a giver.  The warmth she brought into a room was now possible again with one quick text.  With technology!

As Common says in the Microsoft Commercial, Technology is…

Possibility

Adaptability

Capability

What’s a hammer without a person who swings it?  It’s not about what technology can do, it’s about what  YOU can do with it.”

When mom’s health started to decline, she found comfort in the apps she could add to her phone.  They allowed her to conserve energy making them a touch away.  When shopping trips ceased and long conversations were no longer, her technology always came through for her.  The deliveries still came… because she ordered them.  Friends stopped over… because she was able to invite them.  She felt loved… because friends and family were messaging her during their busy work day when a phone call just could not have happened.  She maintained her dignity… because a message never required her to put make-up on or to have her hair done.

Not to mention the freedom it gave my amazing father in law who cared for her each day.  He was able to go about daily tasks because he was a text away.  Even if that meant he was downstairs or outside… technology gave her a way to connect when in need.

To say she was my world (our world) is an understatement.  Technology allowed me to reach out and make sure she knew she was on my mind when I was trying to get my family out the door each day.  I was able to send her songs each morning to raise her up when she was down.  With one click she was able to fill her soul with beautiful lyrics that were meant just for her.

Then came the message from dad on mom’s final day with us.  I had just entered my classroom when it came through.  “I need you!”  What would I have ever done if he was unable to reach me?  My husband worked much further away than my 7 minute drive.  Dad would have never been able to remember the school phone number along with my extension.  But he was able to go right into his smartphone and message me.

I am so grateful for technology.  I am grateful my mother-in-law had a tool that positively impacted her life.  My world extends beyond a smartphone… and it does for our children too.  What tools are you putting in the hands of your students?  How are you embracing the power?

The power of technology… the impact on many.

TECHNOLOGY…

You’re the voice, and it’s the microphone.   You have more power at your fingertips than entire generations that came before you.  So here’s the question…

What will you do with it?” -Common


Inquiring minds want to know.

 

#LCInnovation: What if…

What if…

the way isn’t the right way?

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I sit down, get my focus on, and layout what I think are the perfect plans for the upcoming week.  I take everything into account from each child, the skills, where education is today, to where it is going tomorrow.  I really think this way of planning is the right way… looking at all angles.

Asking myself questions such as how can I…

Ditch That Textbook?

Infuse ISTE Standards into my lesson?

Remake Learning “Pittsburgh style” by creating opportunities to design, make and create?

Reach every child at their instructional level?

Inspire students to innovate or iterate through inquiry based lessons? 

Hook my students into knowing down the door to learning?  LCL Dave Burgess style

Empower every child to own their learning and have confidence to act on the 30 Second Pitch

and the list goes on and on. 

Yet, as I am reading Katie Martin‘s book Learner Centered Innovation, it has me asking what if the the way I am planning isn’t the right way.  To be clear it was a blend of reading her book and taking part in the #LeadLap Chat she moderated on Saturday morning that really pushed me to take action on this “what if“.

As any chat goes, I type away my gut instinct in seconds flat.  I hit the “tweet” button and find myself staring at my best plan yet… 

What if YOU answered Katie’s question?  What if…