Now

During an “open-mic" opportunity at iPDX14, I shared this:


While my past is important, what I have done and where I have been do not define me because what I will do and where I will go is a better indicator of the man I am and the human that I will be tomorrow.

I've heard them say, "You matter." I've heard them say, "You are shaping their future." But often they are the same that remind me that I teach because I can't and they do because they can.

Thanks, but I don’t appreciate the sentiment. I am more than the sum of the books and posts that try to define my craft. I am more than the ones and zeros and the updates or tweets. They end with #youmatter #teachersareheros #makeadifference #savetheworld

…and my only reply is #drained #overwhelmed #whyamisojaded

They tell me learning comes from common apple core based devices standardized by SMART goals that rigorize life long memorization of learning filtered through racing to the top... But for what? It's only leaving our children behind. It's the same pig but now it's painted with iridescent lipstick that changes color every time we look at it. But for what?

I understand a touchdown, a home run, a 3-pointer, but please some one tell me, why in this thing we call learning are we keeping score? Why is a student's potential based on a GPA when it should be based on his or her character and willingness to develop that potential.

Some of you are right. 1:1 is the answer. 1 more minute of patience for that 1 student. 1 short dialogue with 1 child in the hallway to remind them that it's their potential you seek, not their aptitude to regurgitate. 1 phone call home to remind parents that their 1 student is an integral part to the learning, the community, and the culture of your classroom - even if that 1 student has 1 too many "incident reports on their record." So please, do not let your wireless connectivity interfere with your human connectivity.

But if the heart on my sleeve that so pervasively beats isn't enough, then at least let me finish before you dismiss me.

Do not mistake my words today. And if I say tomorrow I do not mean to wait. Tomorrow is my next word; tomorrow is your next thought. Do not put off to tomorrow what should be done today. Because today has already left and what you are left with is now.

I am here today because I know that tomorrow is NOW, and now (because of you), it will be different for many. And now take what you’ve heard, seen, and learned, take it back to your class, back to you schools, back to your homes not just because you need to better, but because it’s time to be different.

Do not mistake my words today for pride or arrogance, but please consider my humility and awe as I stand here and look out there, and see, not what you have done but what you will do.

What if...


What if we asked our students to ONLY use their devices to record, tag, and share the inspiration they find around them?

Mark Yaeger (seen above) is a Hollywood composer. He uses Evernote to capture his ideas as they happen. Click on the picture to read the original article.

I’m not saying we have to put Evernote in the hands of every student. I’m not advocating for any device or app in particular. Heck, give kids one of those old spiral notepads and a sharp pencil. Whatever it is, it can be used to record, tag, and share. How much more useful would those devices be?

What would this do to your classroom culture? What would your students begin to record and share? How would they organize (tag) their inspirations and observations? What might this lead to in your school?

Encourage your students to love their ideas. Encourage your students to keep them and share them. My mind is buzzing with all the possibilities of a classroom that encouraged this sort of behavior.

What if you did this?

Citizens



What if we stopped promoting good “digital citizenship” and just helped students be good citizens? Do we need to keep these two worlds separate anymore? Many of our students, and many of us, live in a world where connectedness is an afterthought.

We see people being fired, disciplined, even arrested for their inappropriate interactions online. There is little separation now from what we do online and what we do walking down the street.

Why do we continue to perpetuate this dichotomy? I understand that there are varying levels of adoption and integration of technology in our lives and classrooms. But if we continue to keep them separate, will we ever reach a point where life is life and their is no more mention of “the real world”? We all share this planet. We all share this moment in time, but for whatever reason we continue to compartmentalize this life and this world because somehow that makes it easier.

There is only one of me (thank your lucky stars). What I say and share online are things that I would share and say to any of you at dinner or on the phone. We need to come to terms with the evolution of human interaction and what it means to be “responsible” when we engage in these new spaces.

Present




In 2014 I will be present.

I will learn to be engaged in the moment and appreciate the present without worrying too much about later.

I will work on focus and persistence.

I will do whatever needs to be done now.

(I may do less of one thing in order to do more of another, or I may even do more of something to make sure I do less of another. The moment will dictate what I need to do to be present.)

My desire is to become more balanced.

Being present each day will help me to find joy and fulfillment in the things I do.




You can't win if it's only about you.

Win probably isn't the right word to use here, but let me explain where I'm coming from before you jump all over me about using the word win in a post about education.

During a discussion I had with several of my friends the other day someone said, "You can't win if it's only about you." The reference was apropos for the discussion. The line was in reference to what happens to athletes that let their egos surpass their talent and athleticism. But the intent wasn't to criticize any particular athlete. It was to interject a bit of reality of what happens to those who lose focus of why we do what we do (as educators) and begin to focus on other things.

But at the same time, I struggle to write or share any advice that does not seem hypocritical in nature. Humility must be lived, and often cannot be penned. I cannot urge others to aspire to greatness through selflessness and service while touting all the ways that I have been given the opportunities I have through the work that I have done.

Many of us are in education because of our selfless natures and desires to serve others. And when that service becomes diluted with the aspirations of praise and recognition we lose sight of those selfless desires.

Just do good. The rest will follow.