When you have been away from your Twitter feed for a few hours, how do you look through the posts of others?
Do you quickly refresh and rush to the top skipping over all but the last few posts?
Do you slide up in a scanning fashion skipping chunks, but stopping periodically to check in to see what was happening a few hours ago.
Do you scroll through looking for certain people who you connect with frequently to see what they have been up to or shared. Do you check the feed for links and resources as you go more slowly and purposefully in your journey to the top of the feed?
I ask this because this morning it hit me that as I was scrolling through my Twitter feed that it is much like the way we approach life. I don't know that anyone falls into any one of the categories all the time, but it made me think about how we approach things in our lives.
Are we in such a hurry to reach our destination that we don't stop to reflect on the journey, to make time for the relationships in our lives? As I scanned through my feed to "Catch Up" to the most recent posts, I realized how many interactions, ideas, and potential connections I skipped over. I honestly couldn't even make out the images of the people in my PLN that I watched race by like the gravel on the side of the road as you are racing to somewhere you are already late to before you have even departed. And yet if you look up from the shoulder, you can see the trees distinctly and appreciate their beauty as you watch the birds leap from their branches and take flight.
What is so important that we are willing to zip past so many opportunities in our lives? What is the great reward, acknowledgement, trophy, prize that draws us to seek it out in such a driven manner that we forgo other aspects of life? I don't know if you have had these experiences, but I know I have found myself at times racing through life toward a temporary destination only to find the satisfaction of reaching that point in my life pale in comparison to what I realized I had missed out on. I could discuss all the examples of temporary destinations that I created in my life, but what is more important for me right now is the things I missed out on.
In my quest in life, I missed out on interactions with my own kids. I was busy with coaching, teaching and a thousand other "important" things that I didn't allow myself to be in the moment. This summer I have done better. I am in the improvement phase where I have allowed myself to put other things down to be present in their lives and their activities. I enjoy our interactions so much more fully when I am not preoccupied with what I "have to do!" We have gone to the movies, played in the pool, gone for walks to the park, and my oldest has even started going for runs with me. Which is another area of my life I had neglected for too long. I still hate running, but I can now at least tolerate my 3-4 mile runs. I just now have to be more consistent with my frequency.
I am reconnecting with my wife! For any of you who have kids, they create great joy, and fulfillment in your life, but when they arrive, they change your family dynamic. The conversations you had with your significant other are forever changed. You go from talking about; how beautiful they are, how much you love them, where you should go out on your date night, who you should invite to your next get together or couple's night out to; whose turn it is to change the poopy diaper, who needs to pick up the kids from daycare, who is making supper, whose turn to give baths, read a story, teach them how to write their name, learn shapes, and did I mention the word POOP is a constant topic of conversation at least the first few years of the child's life. So where is the romance, the spark, the intimacy? If you have the answer, shoot me an email Dr. Phil, inquiring minds want to know. As I said, I am reconnecting with my wife, our daughters are older and independent enough that she and I can have some moments in the day to have a semi-uninterrupted conversation. This summer we had almost a weekly date for lunch where we were kid free and able to really talk. It has been wonderful to take the time for US to work on our relationship.
In the past few weeks I have been able to get to know my PLN more deeply through online conversations, chats, DMs and face to face meetings. I am making plans with some to head to a baseball game in two weeks and am excited about having some adult fun.
I AM a work in progress. I AM a recovering Destination Enthusiast. I AM a Husband, Father, Friend, Son, Brother, Teacher, Colleague, Leader, Coach. I AM finally going to stop and live in the moment more often. I AM grateful for the blessings God has bestowed upon me and I AM going to cherish them more fully each and everyday.
Is life about the Destination or the Journey?
MAKE THE CHOICE TO LIVE FOR THE JOURNEY!
Yesterday I received some awesome personal news, it is still too early in the process to share the details, but I was excited, then I read a post by Charles Cooper @Thrasymachus that made me realize how powerful the connections made on Twitter can be.
A couple weeks ago I wanted to try something different for the Twitter chat I host, #sstlap, and decided to try a concept called Speed Dating. While I have never experienced it first hand, I have seen examples on TV. Now before I go to far, here is a big reveal for anyone who has ever participated in any of my chats, or has read about the lessons I share, are you ready for it? Most of my really good ideas come last minute! Oh and I am not claiming to have had lots of good ideas, but most of the few that I have developed were in the final moments before the deadline. (Don't worry there is a reason why I share this earth shattering secret). So to set the stage for Speed Dating, it was Thursday mid-morning when I realized I need to come up with questions for the chat and as usually I start to feel the pressure as my mind frantically searches for ideas. Then seemingly out of nowhere I remember a commercial for Jimmy John's where two people are speed dating and they order subs that arrive just in time for the two to meet. Well now I have a concept of Speed Dating, but how do I use this in a Twitter chat?
Somehow my mind grasps the concept of the connection between Speed Dating, the getting to know you, even in a fast paced environment, and the collaboration that happens in Twitter chats. Out of this moment of inspiration, I realize I want to use the concepts of Speed Dating to get to know my PLN better, and more importantly have them connect with the amazing people they are chatting with each week. I looked up Speed Dating questions, and away we went. I created a lot because I thought the responses might be pretty limited and then I would loose people to boredom waiting for the next question. What I found was some amazing depth of conversation and new connections. As Charles Cooper @Thrasymachus mentions in his post I will share below, he met someone from his motherland Costa Rica. The funny thing is, the person he met is a great friend of mine who has been an amazingly positive support to me and an inspiration, Kimberly A. Hurd @khurdhorst. Through this activity they made a connection they might never have been able to create otherwise, because who really talks about where they were born in normal conversation? There are so many wonderful things I learned about my PLN that day that I plan to use this again.
Back to my big reveal. I mentioned that many of my ideas come last minute, and the reason I share this is because I feel like I sometimes only have the concept ready to share with others. I have seen this with a number of lessons that I have shared with my PLN this past year. I have a concept, a vision, but I am lacking some of the detail, or ways to really take it to its full potential. When my PLN gets a hold of the concept they pour their creative juices into the concept and magic happens. Speed Dating is a prime example of this. I thought of the concept as a way to change things up and get to know my PLN. I am happy with the results, but then I read Charles Cooper @Thrasymachus and I realized there is so much more potential for this concept in PD. He created some amazing ways to use it with both teachers and students that I am now going to steal for my own use. He has done a great job of outlining his process, guiding principles that make it easy to see how and why you should use this concept.
The big AH HA moment for me was seeing another prime example of someone taking a concept and turning it into something spectacular! This is what happens with a connected, collaborative network of educators who are passionate about what they do and improving education. He credits me for the concept, I stole from Jimmy John's who took it from it's inventor, Rabbi Yaacov Deyo who came up with the idea in the 1990s according to a quick Google search. Each time someone took the original concept and re-purposed it for their own needs. This is what happens in connected world made possible because of social media like Twitter and Google+. Speed Dating has gone from a way to meet your future soul mate, to a very cool way to reinvigorate your PD through the efforts of Charles Cooper. Please check out his great post about Speed Dating As Professional Development. I hope you steal the ideas to engage your colleagues and students and of course SHARE your results!
Networking for Educators!
Yesterday I attended my first edcamp Oshkosh and what an amazing experience. But it wasn't just attending the sessions at the edcamp that made me take stock of my journey as an educator. As I get to sit here with the momentary peace and tranquility of a new day, I am flooded with so many examples of why yesterday was a powerful experience in my career.
While yesterday was the first time I attended an edcamp at Oshkosh, it wasn't the first one I have participated in. I want to pause for a second because I chose the word participate rather than attend because edcamps are different than conferences. Edcamps allow you to be engaged in the conversation because their typically isn't a single expert controlling the conversation. In edcamps all are invited to share, question, discuss and contribute their expertise.
So beyond the participation aspect, what made yesterday so special? It was the people I met, interacted with, and that fact that I felt like I was making a positive difference in the field of education. Well let's start at the beginning, I have struggled with not feeling connected for years, especially juggling the expectations of teaching, coaching, and then family. I needed help to improve my teaching and through a chance encounter I found it. And that is what brought me to edcamp Oshkosh yesterday.
About a year ago, while looking for course resources, I came across Reuben Hoffman's website, an incredible site for content and technology resources. I contacted him and through the course of conversations he encouraged me to get on Twitter, check out the educational chats, and connect with Dave Burgess, the author of Teach Like A Pirate. If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you know that I followed his advice and am now a huge supporter of the ideas of TLAP.
This brings me to the edcamp yesterday. I attended a session on TLAP with Andrea Kornowski @andreakornowski. She is an amazing science teacher who has a great sense of humor even though she aims most of her jokes at my expense. Andrea and I ended up facilitating this session and it is here that I had my first really cool moment of professional development. It was my epiphany moment if you will. The conversation started out with teachers sharing their connection to the ideas of TLAP and lessons they have used in their classrooms. Then two teachers walked in who had never heard of TLAP and weren't on Twitter yet. It was this conversation that impacted me so much yesterday. As a group we introduced the ideas of the book but more importantly, the collective, collaborative efforts of educators who support each other via Twitter. I gave them a quick tutorial on Twitter showing them how to navigate and connect. I shared with them my story of getting connected and so many examples of how those connections have impacted my teaching and my connection with colleagues and most importantly my students. They left that session and decided to go to the next session on Twitter for Beginners.
I saw one of the teachers later that day, and he told me he had his account set up and was ready to go. But more importantly, he was excited about sharing resources. During our initial conversation we discussed the sharing of lessons, ideas, and feedback that comes through a connected PLN. Before he left, he wanted to make sure he shared some examples of things he used in his classroom that he thought would be useful to me. That action on his part made me take notice. As teachers we want to share our knowledge with others, we want to help others grow and get better. The other revelation of that interaction is that he was a lot like me a little over a year ago. I had never heard of Twitter as an educational tool. I never knew edcamps existed. I was struggling to be the effective teacher I wanted to become.
Today I am a connected educator who has become part of an amazing PLN. I was able to meet some of those members face to face yesterday, and add new people as well. I met Kelly Moehn in our TLAP session and Oliver Schinkten for the first time face to face. It is an incredible experience to meet people who you have only previously talked to on social media. The in living color is so much better. The energy and passion that shines through is incredible. I added some new members to my list of PLN as well, and look forward to learning and growing with them.
The edcamp was an awesome experience, but my day of learning didn't end there. I had sent a Tweet out earlier in the week looking for some ideas for ipad apps. I was fortunate to get a number or responses, but one stood out. Victoria Olson @MsVictoriaOlson asked if I wanted to do a GHO to talk about the apps. If you don't know Victoria, she is an amazingly passionate, positive and driven educator. I have seen her grow so much as an educator. She has become a well respected presenter and amazing source of technology information. She is also a big reason why I started blogging. Last summer she wrote about why teachers should blog and well you can blame her for having to read all of my random ramblings. Our conversation was enlightening. I was amazed not only at how many apps and technology resources she was able to share with me, but how many different ideas she had for implementation. I have pages of notes from our conversation.
My day of learning is almost done. After putting my kids to bed, I got on Twitter and found #SBLCHAT standards based learning chat. I found myself drawn to the conversation about grading, expectations, and motivation. I was intrigued by the group of educators looking at transforming the grading system, measuring students by their progress and growth and finding different systems of measurement than grades. It was a powerful conversation that I look forward to joining again.
I know this post is like a diary entry, but what connects all of these events for me is both the technology and the people. If I didn't have the technology to find Reuben Hoffman's website I wouldn't have taken my first steps on this journey. If it wasn't for the people who I connected with through the technology I wouldn't have continued on this path. What I have learned about myself is that I am no longer alone in this journey. I have an amazing PLN! I am a follower of some great educational leaders, and I am becoming an educational leader in my own way.
So I shared this post earlier today, then had a great conversation tonight with some educators about the power of Twitter and the impact it can make on our lives. Finally got home and had a DM from Andrea Kornowski who I mentioned earlier, who shared the video below that sums up the idea of Twitter, collaboration and the amazing educators who want to connect to revolutionize education! Thanks Andrea and all who are in my PLN!
I was thinking about the power of twitter and growing my PLN today when I was cutting the grass. It is like my zen time where my mind is free from the distractions of life. Anyway, I was thinking about my amaIng PLN and the whole experience I have had since diving into twitter about a year ago. There are educators who some call eduallstars or edu rockstars. Some embrace this label some dislike it. Last summer there was lots of discussion about this topic along with the thoughts on following and followers and what those numbers mean.
I will admit when I started on twitter I wanted to have my number of followers be very high. I liked the idea that people were in tune with the ideas and resources I was sharing. Then I saw my numbers grow especially on the side of who I was following. Well last week during my weekly #sstlap chat I decided to try something new. I wanted to get to know my PLN better. We did a speed dating type chat and it was an amaIng experience to get to know more about these people who many I only know as an icon or through their educational views. So back to the numbers. Well after the chat I realized how little those numbers mean. Numbers don't lead to quality relationships or connections. They didn't make me a better educator. I had wanted to have the big numbers like the eduallstars. What I realized is the higher the number grows the less I know about the people in my PLN. The less I can connect with them. The fact is the more people you follow the more opportunity you have to learn from people but it also means your twitter feed fills up a lot faster and you miss more great ideas.
So do I want to have big numbers? Well I definitely want to continue to expand on the people I follow because they are people I learn from. The number of people follow me doesn't matter. That is not to insult those who are following me, but rather to say my focus for twitter is to learn from others.
Sitting at the cool kids table-well that is like going back to high school where being accepted and social status were king. Today it is about learning, growing and sharing with others to help each other improve. As we get better so does our classroom environment and inturn the experience we provide our students. There are educational rockstars and they deserve to be recognized for being pioneers, innovators who are setting the bar for the rest of us. However keep in mind they are dedicated educators like all of us who are striving to reform and improve education. While most of us are not eduallstars, or at least not yet, we should celebrate where we are in our journey. Don't miss out on connections and opportunities to reach your goals by blindly chasing numbers. It isn't about numbers or awards but the journey to be the best educator you can be.