Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Amazing World of Twitter!

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In the past week, I have embarked on an awesome, new adventure - co-moderating the #INeLearn Twitter chat and then presenting at the IASP Fall Professional Conference on the power of Twitter! It has been FANTASTIC!

First, Kim Hendrick @evolvewithkim, the official moderator of this week’s chat, inspired me to jump in and give co-moderating a try. She, along with Michelle Green @mrg_3, are edtech leaders with so many wonderful ideas and great questions that really push my thinking. Their confidence in my ability to jump into moderating is heart-warming!

Even though I have taken part in Twitter chats for a while, this took my professional learning to an entirely new level. Picture this - I am sitting at home in “my spot” on the recliner, 9:00pm, in my “comfies”, with my laptop, connecting and leading a conversation with passionate educators all over Indiana. Now how cool is that! Professional learning on my time, in my home, and with others who inspire me. The conversation was fast-paced, engaging, and everyone involved was sharing great ideas. It was like sitting in a virtual room of educators, brainstorming and sharing experiences, all in an effort to make each other better. Now that is the power of Twitter.

Then, on Monday at the IASP Fall Professional Conference, I stepped completely outside my comfort zone, giving a presentation to a room of principals about the powerful of Twitter. I shared how it can transform schools as a means to communicate and celebrate the great things happening in schools, as well as serve as a catalyst for our own professional growth, collaborating with great educators all around the globe. I call them the 3 Big C’s of Twitter - Communicate, Celebrate, and Collaborate. I hope the tips, tricks, and examples sparked more educators to continue to take a step in this direction, discovering the amazing world of Twitter.

As I reflect over this past year, I am literally blown away. It was about this time last year that my use of Twitter exploded. I used it to communicate and celebrate more happening in my school, and I truly made an effort to develop my PLN, using Twitter as a tool to grow and learn. I have quadrupled the number of people I follow, building connections with great educators everywhere. What was really great was actually meeting a few of these people face to face this past week at the conference! It was as if I caught up with an old friend, and we talked as if we had known each other for years.

As I have shared this with my staff, I have noticed more of my staff jumping into Twitter as well. I am so proud of them, making that leap into Twitter, sharing the great things happening in their classrooms!

Now, these connections have given me the tools, the growth mindset, and the courage to collaborate on a greater scale, co-moderating chats, presenting at conferences, writing this blog, and most importantly, connecting with amazing educators. My jump into the amazing world of Twitter made this possible. My life as an educator will never be the same.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Embrace a Mistake

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We’ve all heard the quote by Vince Lombardi, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”  

Every moment is a learning experience. Mistakes are no different. We all make mistakes. We are human - it is bound to happen. If we are not willing to admit our blunders, then this world would be filled with pompous individuals, not willing to budge in their ways or their thinking. While we don't like making mistakes, they happen, and it is how we overcome them that defines their role in our lives.

I’ve determined that this is the perseverance we must instill in ourselves and our students. If we want to grow and be our best, we must get up from our lapses, make what was wrong right, and move forward. Panicking then dwelling on the mishap isn’t going to change anything and it is definitely not going to fix the problem!

If we chastise mistakes and mishaps, there is only one outcome - fear. Allowing fear to run our lives is a terrible way to live. We go through the comfortable motions and never try anything new. I've seen how this affects me, our kids, and my staff. For me, my anxiety runs high, I worry continually over the little things, and am truly not productive. I cannot accomplish any task, I dread my work, and eventually retreat to what I already know and am comfortable in doing.

When our kids are chastised for mistakes, they live in fear too. Think about a child who is continually belittled. Their lack of self- confidence and self-esteem diminishes their ability to think clearly or productively, and after a while, they tune it out and become numb to their mistakes, never learning to change their ways. Risk-taking in a classroom and their creativity has been stifled. They fear making a mistake.

Teachers often feel this way too. Unfortunately, the standardization of our educational arenas have built a culture of the fear of making mistakes. What if the lesson wasn't perfect? What if it didn't go as planned? What is my principal walks in a sees the lesson that didn't go quite the way I had expected it? Instead of taking chances and risks, teachers feel trapped in what they have always done because they believe it has worked.

Let’s take a different approach to mistakes. Instead of chastising them and feeling bad when they are made, we need to embrace them. By embracing a mistake, we accept what they are, move on, and learn from them. To do this takes courage and perseverance, because our society is ready to jump on those who openly admit their mistakes. It is almost as if some are ready to pounce, like a cat playing with a feather. But for me, I embrace them. I'm ready to take the high road, the positive approach, not making excuses, but accepting the mistake to learn and grow. Through my reflections, I learn what to do next time, and take another chance.

For our students and teachers, this can be a game-changing approach. Creativity will flourish, as students and teachers feel as though they can take chances, and they might work, or they might not, but no one is there to judge and make them feel terrible for what they tried to do, as long as it is made in their best efforts and judgment. Grades reflect growth, creativity, and innovation, not compliance. Classwork is no longer a script to follow, but a chance to try something new and learn from it.

We all make mistakes, but it is how we deal with them that matters most. As a lead learner, I know I will make plenty of mistakes for a lot of people to see. Trust me, I already have. But, I always want what is best for our students and our school, and so by embracing those mistakes and mishaps, I accept what happened, reflect and learn, and move on, trying something different so that our students and school benefit in a positive way.

photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/i-am-rebecca/6832568375/">i.am.rebecca</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>