Friday, July 17, 2015

Learning Socially.

July has so far been very professionally full. As I mentioned, I attend the ISTE conference at the end of June/beginning of July and have done some other work I'll maybe mention later.

But more immediately, we just got home from Flipcon15. This was my second event, and the social aspect of this conference were drastically and remarkably different from the social feelings I had at/after ISTE (I discussed this here).

I was thinking a bit about this in the context of myself, and so was beyond pleased when my friend Kristin Daniels pulled me aside at the end of the conference and said that "we" (I'm not sure when I became part of we, but I like it) need to figure out how to better involve the new people.

Challenge accepted!

I mentioned to Kristin and our friend Jason Bretzmann (who also blogged about this conversation here) that I felt so lost at ISTE and attributed it to not having a "tribe." You need to find a way to get new people to build their tribe so they have people to hang out with, to learn with, and to just build that comfort zone.

Since we stayed after the conference for one more evening, we put out the call to see who wanted to join us for dinner and a wide range of people joined us.

And, since I was in the middle of the table, and had veterans as well as newbies around me, plus lots of great minds, I asked what ideas everyone had.

Here's what came up (I tweeted them to Kristin, so this is verbatim):
  • preplan local meet ups before flipcon. Build that tribe before the big overwhelming event
  • first session should be job alike.
  • @ken_bauer says job alike first AND last... meet people first then firm up connections and share learning last.
  • at social events, let people sit, then break up tables. Mix in newbies and get vets to meet new people
  • @DaretoChem says have a social coordinator at each hotel. This person is the point for where after hours activities happen
  • a social lounge if no session is meeting your needs
  • newbie lounge... social time plus foundational learning (twitter 101, what is flip 101)
There's some great ideas here, but I'm a big fan of the social coordinator idea. That might just be that I WANT that job, but there have been many events where just knowing that ONE person has been helpful for me, and the social coordinator can be that person, the person getting everyone to socializing, and getting people meeting others!

(PS, in that ISTE post, I wondered what happened to my social butterfly self. It turns out, according to NY Mag that there are different kinds of introverts, and I happen to be high in thinking and anxious introversion. It all begins to make sense.)

So, what would help you feel like part of a community at a huge conference? How does it assist your learning?

Friday, July 3, 2015

This year, the good

Sitting in my drafts is a post titled, "This year, the bad." It was a few paragraphs about the ways I failed this year, the frustrations, and the dismal.

When I met with my supervisor expressing many of these struggles a few months ago (believe me, a huge leap of faith for me, since this is a new administrator, but this step went far in building our relationship of trust and support... lessons for me in many ways!), we tried to resolve these issues, but as the year progressed, his message turned to something like, "get through the year and move on."

So this is me, moving on.

This year, the good.

Twenty Percent Time
For the most part, my students took #20Time seriously, took on real work, and learned a lot. Some highlights were the student who learned how to cook, the student who improved her drawing, and the student who designed, wired, and programmed an animatronic dog.

I must improve this, though, because many students still get trapped in the "this project isn't due for months and I have this homework/test/etc due tomorrow." Procrastination remains an issue, and if it's ok to fail, they're ok with failing on this task rather than on the more immediate ones they face.

But the big success is that I finally saw students doing #20Time the way I want them to do it. Constant state of improvement and learning, using the time wisely (though this is an issue particularly for second semester seniors... oh, I'll just do this at home).

I just found this post, which will be great guidance in improving #20time next year. This infographic from that post is fantastic:

This year, I gave my US History students an extremely nebulous project. I was nervous, but they blew. my. mind. They tackled the work, and took it to another level, learning deeply not just about the stuff in the textbook (the time period being studied), but they learned how the theme developed over time in America AND justified their own positions on how the US should proceed in the future on this topic. I am so proud of them.

Going Digital
I finally had the opportunity to work with students who are happy to go digital. Work was submitted digitally, whether in Google Classroom (which we pioneered with each other) or shown on tablets, all class announcements were sent via Classroom or Remind, and they even (eventually) stopped asking to go to the restroom and just did it as long as no one else was out.

The Moment
I've had a rough time feeling like a good teacher in recent years. Some feedback has not been positive. I pretty much came into this year feeling pretty horrible and that I should either quit or go back to school. I ended up going back to school, but I also have incredibly supportive administrators who once again made me feel like I'm doing well. I hate to admit that I'm one of those people who like/need external motivation, but I do, so feeling supported and like I'm on the right track has done astonishing wonders for the way I feel about my day, my work, and as someone who spends much of her day in her own head about her work, this has had a huge impact on me outside of work too. Everywhere, EVERYWHERE, I am much more positive. It's amazing the impact one person can have one another.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

ISTE 2015

Today is the last day of the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Conference. It has been quite a ride.

Throughout the three days (well, two so far), I keep thinking back to this quiz I saw randomly on Facebook a few weeks ago, 21 Signs You Might Actually Be an Ambivert.

ISTE is overwhelming. There's all these people. Many of them are Rockstars in the Educator twitter world. I found a quiet spot in the oasis, and it was great to know that there was a quiet place I could go to not be found and recharge.

What happened to that life of the party I thought I am, I asked myself (silently, from my quiet corner).

It's pretty easy to be the life of the party when there's people I know, but holy cow I can't deal when I don't know anyone. I'm really not sure how this will translate to moving to a new job, should I ever pursue that, but I digress.

So, what have I learned so far? I've actually spent a great deal of time seeking elementary math resources. I realize this doesn't make sense, but since I am working with an elementary school this summer in developing their K-2 math curriculum, this seemed like a good place to begin.

I've gone to a few sessions. The best one was more of a talk by one of the aforementioned Twitter rockstars about creating a culture of innovation. It was enlightening and reassuring and also made me feel like I have a really long way to go. Like I said, it's been a challenging series of days.

I've thought about things I want to do better... interestingly, it seems I'm already embracing some of the current trends (which means I need to get on the front end of something new, since the bandwagon has caught up). These include: Flipped Classroom, 20% Time/Genius Hour. As I reflected, I realized we didn't receive a bunch of comments on the 20% blog this year. I want to work on that. Was it because their writing wasn't really communicating much... maybe. Was it just not enough connections were made... maybe. I want to work more closely with another 20 time teacher to get more discussion going, to get better reflection writing happening, to make the reflection process meaningful rather than simply something the students complete to get a homework grade.