Category Archives: rants

The Good Old Days

Today I was introduced by Jennifer Cronk as someone who has been around the world of edtech for a while. She’s right. I started blogging 10 years ago, opened my twitter account 9 years ago. That’s like a 100 in normal people years. It’s odd to look back at the changes but today’s post by George Couros has me reminiscing.

I also liked this quote and have used it often.

People seem to get nostalgic about a lot of things they weren’t so crazy about the first time around. ~Author Unknown

In 2005 the world of blogging was a bit like being a pioneer. Few people were doing it and most people didn’t even know what it was. I was able to connect with people around the world, have people comment and interact on topics most people I knew weren’t that interested in discussing. In those days, spending time online made you a nerd. I blogged a lot because I was finding new things all the time. It was my way of documenting and sharing that really. As I become more confident, I tackled more challenging topics. In many cases, my posts were an extended respond to other people’s writing.… Read the rest

The Good Old Days

Today I was introduced by Jennifer Cronk as someone who has been around the world of edtech for a while. She’s right. I started blogging 10 years ago, opened my twitter account 9 years ago. That’s like a 100 in normal people years. It’s odd to look back at the changes but today’s post by George Couros has me reminiscing.

I also liked this quote and have used it often.

People seem to get nostalgic about a lot of things they weren’t so crazy about the first time around. ~Author Unknown

In 2005 the world of blogging was a bit like being a pioneer. Few people were doing it and most people didn’t even know what it was. I was able to connect with people around the world, have people comment and interact on topics most people I knew weren’t that interested in discussing. In those days, spending time online made you a nerd. I blogged a lot because I was finding new things all the time. It was my way of documenting and sharing that really. As I become more confident, I tackled more challenging topics. In many cases, my posts were an extended respond to other people’s writing.… Read the rest

If I Ever Think of Myself as a Brand, Slap Me

I’m not sure what percentage, but likely half of my blog posts are borne out of anger or annoyance. Here’s another one.

About a year ago, I wrote this on the mixed message of digital citizenship. The whole “be awesome all the time”  and “only share the positive” is helpful advice, particularly to young people, but the danger lies in losing our humanity.

Brand management is defined this way:

a communication function that includes analysis and planning on how that brand is positioned in the market, which target public the brand is targeted at, and maintaining a desired reputation of the brand.

Whether explicitly stated or not, this is precisely what I see many folks advocating for with our students and educators alike. Telling kids to be careful and thoughtful in what they share is important. Telling them to be calculating and strategic is dangerous. It might be a good thing to consider if you’re selling soap but not if you’re a human being. I see people applying these principles being applied to the way they interact online. The things they share are strategic. They share content and ideas they know will get a lot of views/likes/retweets rather than things that are simply interesting to them. They are careful to maintain the desired reputation of their brand. The schedule their posts and content to get the most traffic and interaction. None of these things are inherently bad but when this criteria drives you, I think you’ve crossed the line from human to brand.

My initial foray into social media was not the fact that I could share and promote stuff. It wasn’t even because I could learn from others. I was attracted to social media because it was social. I met people. I connected with some and didn’t connect with others. I could see who they were as human beings, not as brands. In the early days of twitter, gaining followers was not the goal. Finding interesting people to be interesting with, was the goal. Yes, I did learn and continue to learn from them but that’s never been my starting point.

My inconsistency makes me human. I say dumb things. I make grammatical errors. I try not to be mean, but I’m sure occasionally I am. I have serious thoughts and silly ones. I sometimes share them because I imagine others have similar thoughts. I understand some people, because of status, race, gender or other factors don’t feel this comfortable to share. That’s fine and I respect that. But it doesn’t mean you have to protect and maintain a brand, it just means you don’t have or feel the same freedoms as I do. That’s not an issue of branding but one of privilege. That may be a different conversation. I’m talking about branding as a way of dehumanizing.

I don’t believe we need to or should share everything. It’s easy to point out instances where oversharing has ruined people’s lives. But I also think we don’t talk enough about forgiveness. I’ve likely overshared and as I’ve said, either offended or simply annoyed people. That’s something the people I live with every day would attest to.

The very reason I began blogging was the power to write and share and not be subjected to the same scrutiny and rigidity that my graduate papers were held under. I love that I could hammer out some ideas in short order and generate interesting and useful conversations with this post being a classic example. The reason I joined twitter was to meet strangers, kibitz with friends and weave in and out of serious, silly, meaningless and meaningful ideas knowing all the time that 140 characters is extremely limited.

I understand this is perhaps not an either or kind of decision. Maybe you can build a brand and be human as well. My point is I see many people who lean so heavily on the brand part that I don’t see much of the human side. It’s one of the reason twitter is less interesting to me lately. It’s become overly strategic within the education community. I see fewer humans and more brands. My favorite people are those that are flawed like me and share those flaws in some form or fashion. It may not be the best way to build a brand or audience, but I suppose you have to decide. Maybe my brand is that I’m flawed. If so, I can build that easily.

Also, my friend John Spencer and I have discussed this topic a lot. John’s pretty flawed too so I like him. He created this video that explains it very well too.

Oh, and I mean it when I say you can slap me if you hear me say that. If you just want to slap me for any other reason you can too, I probably deserve it.

 

Photo Credit: Vermin Inc via Compfight cc

Who has the hardest job?

Every once in a while I tweet something only to realize it lacks context and nuance that makes for horrible conversation and goes against many of the things I think makes Twitter a poor place for deep conversation. Like this one:

These are the tweets that get retweeted and favorited but also create some questions and reactions that are difficult to explore in 140. So here I am.

This tweet was borne out of mostly living with a teacher and being one too. I know I never worked harder than when I was in the classroom. I work long hours now, perhaps more than when I taught but one I still remember the biggest thing I gained when I left the classroom was autonomy of my time. Being able to go the bathroom when I wanted was a luxury I didn’t have for the 14 years I taught grades 1-8. Being able to take 10 minutes to walk across the office to chat with a co-worker about a project was something I couldn’t do as a teacher. My wife, who has been teaching for 25 years still works 3 or more hours every night. She spends her day with seven year-olds and works tirelessly to ensure her classroom functions like clockwork. Even 5 minutes of unplanned time can mean 15 minutes of bringing those students back to task. She has to be “on” from the moment she enters the classroom to the time they leave to go home. Shortened lunch times, additional safety concerns at recess mean even less time to have much of any autonomy. I can’t think of another profession where you have to be that focused and attentive for as long and often. That particular aspect of the job, in my opinion, led to my tweet.

What I don’t believe is that school leaders have a less important job. I know great leaders who put in as much, if not more time than teachers. I know leaders who deal with a significant amount of stress from parents, students, teachers, and boards. I realize that determining who has the harder job is a fruitless discussion. I also know that in many circumstances, schools are finding it more difficult to find administrators than to find teachers. The “hard” I’m referring to is a different kind of hard that for some is real challenge.

I suppose I’ve always viewed my colleagues in terms of the difficulty of the roles. I’ve never tried to tell anyone that I had a hard job. In fact, one thing I always focused on as a leader was acknowledging the challenges of others and tried to encourage and support them. I think a good leader focuses mostly on others. This is why community for leaders is so important. Sometimes they need to unwind and lament outside the community of teachers in order to maintain a strength and support for those folks on the front lines.

So let me just say, all our jobs are important. You can disagree about my statement about who has the harder job but with I suppose because of the autonomy I gained from leaving the classroom, I’ll stick with my tweet. But perhaps a better tweet might be one from a few months back.

 

Okay, I’m done.  If you want to keep arguing, do it here. I still love you all.

 

PS. Next time I tweet something of this nature, remind me to blog about it instead.

Photo Credit: Pragmagraphr via Compfight cc

Sometimes You Should Take A Little….

“Don’t take crap from anyone”

Umpire Fight
Photo Credit: dawgfanjeff via Compfight cc

This is a pretty popular sentiment today in a world that’s focused on self-preservation and social justice. Certainly, there are times when this is the proper approach. We need to teach children and adults to stand up for truth and justice, particularly when it’s being done to those who perhaps can’t speak or defend themselves.

But making this your life’s motto or suggesting it be an absolute is dangerous and I think misguided.

A friend of mine told me a story about his son who was in middle school at the time. A group of kids were on the playground and were picking on a particular boy. The whole group got hauled into the principal’s office to tell their story. My friend’s son, let’s call him R,  explained that he was trying to prevent the bullying. The principal decided that all the boys write a 500 word essay on bullying. R went home and told his Dad about the injustice. Dad believed R and wanted to be sure he had an opportunity to state his case, which he had. At this point, my friend had a few choices to make. He could call the principal and plead on his son’s behalf, he could ask R to try and restate his case or he could simply have R write the essay. He chose the latter. He explained to R that while he indeed did believe him and was proud that he stoof up for the boy, he also understood that it’s often difficult for a principal to always get things right. With the hundreds of decisions that are made each day, it’s likely some of them will be wrong. In this case, the punishment wasn’t that bad and writing an essay wouldn’t kill R.

I got to thinking about all the injustices that happen to a person in a day. Someone cutting in front of you in traffic or in a store line, flight delays, having someone lump you in with a large group because of the actions of a few, even someone venting at you when you know they are really upset at something else. There are many little things that probably bug us throughout our day that we would label as injustice.  Some people choose to point these out and fight every one of them. They live by the “I don’t take crap from anyone” mantra and proudly assert their views and rights and want others to know, “don’t mess with me.” These people walk around with a chip on their shoulder and aren’t usually ones I like to spend time with.

Some people live with injustices on a daily basis. Racism, while I’ve never experienced, is something can persist and appear in many forms and contexts. I’m not talking about that kind of injustice. But if you look, we all can identify minor injustices and inconveniences that happen everyday. Given the number of people and organizations we interact with, it’s simple math that tells you things will go wrong and many times you’ll be on the short end.  There are times when calling people and organizations on their mistakes is important but I also think it’s right to sometimes take a little crap. I think it can be healthy to accept that sometimes people and systems are imperfect. I think mercy is an under valued trait. I also think that by accepting these minor injustices we can build trust and opportunity for relationships that might lead to greater accomplishments. When I think about someone like Nelson Mandela, he took a lot of abuse for a lot more serious injustices to accomplish something world changing. Part of this, I think, is recognizing that it’s not always about you. In a world so focused on human rights, forgiveness, particularly forgiveness of authority figures is almost non existent.

I’m not sure if this makes sense to folks but after hearing my friend’s story and paying more attention, I believe that sometimes it’s okay not to stand up for yourself. I’m simply asking people to be careful with the mantras and messages that they hold to particularly as it relates to teaching children. Discernment is a wonderful thing. Understand that their may be times when taking a little crap might be warranted.

Tressa Drecker, a principal in Indiana put this on all her teacher’s desks.

joy

I like it.