40 Comments

  1. Great post!!! V. funny photo. I especially agree about the positives. It is one of my mantras in life to try to give positive, specific, descriptive feedback to teachers. So many teachers suffer in isolation and are not appreciated for the small miracles they make happen daily. However, I agree, it cannot be global praise (same as with kids) but sincere, eg. I notice that you are celebrating your students learning by posting it all over the classroom. OR I notice that you are v. present when listening to your students and take the time to respond to them meaningfully. They must notice that.

    As always, it is easy to notice YOUR positive energy. I am sorry I missed your talk at #rscon10 but I will listen to the archive. I will especially be on the lookout for #thecough.

    • George

      Thanks for the comment Ingrid…I do appreciate my staff a lot but I am going to try and really get into the specifics of what they do! That is great advice for anyone. I actually never write a card without saying something personal that I saw in the staff member. Takes more time but I think it is important to let them know WHY I appreciate them as well.

  2. It was the fifth point in your blog post that really inspired me to leave a comment here: when I was in high school, I attended an Awards Dinner, and listening to the keynote speaker that night, really changed my life. He spoke about how easily people will criticize others, but how rarely people tells others when they`re doing something right. He spoke about the importance of saying "thank you," and recognizing others for even all of the small things they do. This really got to me, and from that moment on, I have really attempted to do just that. An e-mail or small note taking time to recognize someone for what he/she has done can make a big difference. I love that people are so forthcoming at doing this on Twitter, and I think it would be wonderful if this always happened in the school environment too.

    So George, I really mean it when I say congratulations on an excellent presentation! You had so many great ideas to share, and you showed us not just what you did, but how we could do this in our own schools too. You made Identity Day a reality for all of us, and I hope that it will be a reality at my school next year too. Thank you for continuing to inspire me (and so many others) with all of your wonderful ideas!

    Aviva

    • George

      Thanks Aviva…I know my school would be honoured if they knew people like you would take their ideas and implement them into their own schools. I am REALLY looking forward to seeing you do it at least on a class level. The entire school level would be fantastic though! You are so supportive :) I appreciate it!

      • I will definitely do something at a class level, but I'm hoping that we do something as a school too. I know that there are a lot of interested people on staff that want to do this Identity Day, so I'm hoping that this will help push it along.

        Just so you know, I also forwarded your presentation link along with the other presentation links to the Director of Education for our Board. He visited my classroom during the year and really embraces the ideas that were discussed in your presentation and so many other ones too. Think he'll love what you and your school did, and I'm sure that he'll share these presentations with others too. Your staff should know that they are inspiring many, many people.

        Aviva

  3. Hi George,

    Loved your 5 points. (And laughed really hard when I scrolled down to #6.)As if your opening keynote at rscon10 didn't give me enough to think about, now you throw point #5 into the mix.

    I agree so much with this statement. "For some reason, many adults seem to shy away from saying positives to other adults." That is one thing that I love about my online PLN. They are so supportive and caring. There was so much of that supportive nature present during this weekend. We need to be that supportive in our schools also.

    • George

      Paula…Just so you know, I was so impressed with how active a participant you were in the sessions this weekend. I honestly don't know how you had the energy you did to attend so many. I did not pop into a session without seeing you there!

      Thank you for your caring nature in our PLN. It really helps to encourage people to do better, including myself!

  4. George,

    Great post again! I love the point about being as positive in person with colleagues as we are on Twitter. We have a wonderfully supportive network on Twitter so why not take that positive energy to our daily work!

    I am so glad we have crossed paths and can share learning journeys together. I LOVED your presentation. So heartfelt, authentic and powerful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • George

      Speaking of being positive, you and Lisa did a fantastic job in your presentation. Your enthusiasm for new teachers and setting them up for success is essential to their success in the future. With you leading the way in this area, many new teachers are going to be successful and feel so supported. Thanks for all that you do :)

    • George

      David…I appreciated connecting with you this weekend. Your enthusiasm was contagious and your kind words were so appreciated. I can't wait to see what you do with Identity Day in your school!

  5. Thanks for your incredible contribution and keynote! I will never get tired of seeing the pictures of your kids and you! I really enjoyed #6, George! I believe we have to take our passion, excitement, and the support we show on Twitter to our school communities. We should extend this enthusiasm to all educational stakeholders; parents, students, colleagues, administrators, policy makers, and so forth. What I love about this conference was that educators took their time out this weekend to learn. They felt compelled due to their passion. Some attended 30 sessions. They didn't complain afterward about doing it because they weren't forced to go. Instead, all I talked to (and I talked to many considering I only missed 3 really) wish they had had the energy (me included) to attend all the sessions! Wow! I am so proud there are educators like this in 59 countries!

    • George

      The reason that so many attended was due to you and your team leading them Shelly :) You are all so positive and people WANT to be around that. No one wants to be around the Debbie Downer and you are the opposite of it. The unfortunate part of being a leader is that many are quick to criticize but not so quick to create the "change" they see are lacking. People really appreciated that you went to as many sessions that you did. It meant a lot to me, and everyone else.

  6. I love how you can break things down into chunks. I love the point about being positive with EVERYONE! The important thing is to keep complimenting even if they do not appreciate it! I work in toxic environment, but I do compliment people. I think of my colleagues, or anyone for that matter, like my students…there HAS to be something that I can love about this person! I have to dig sometimes, but it helps me deal with the negative comments by being able to say something I like about the person! Reading your post has made me make a challenge to myself to compliment and encourage even more…boy are my friends going to hate this! They already call me "Miss Perky", I wonder what new nickname I will be blessed with?

    Great post, George! Thanks for always being so inspirational! You are , as I have said before, my virtual administrator! I learn so much from these blogs!

    • George

      I worked with a teacher who was so rude to me everyday. I would always say, "Good morning. How are you doing today?". She would say "good" and keep walking. I would quickly return with "I know you were JUST about to ask and I am doing terrific!". Eventually she started asking. Eventually she started being sincere. Eventually she was fantastic with me.

      I could have easily complained about her but I just kept joking and trying to be positive to the point she would have to be nice or I would annoy her to tears. Luckily it was their first. Keep up your positive attitude and it will become contagious.

  7. #rscon10 was my first online conference. I'm still amazed by the technology of it. To be able to listen to voices from all over the world in realtime was unbelievable.

    That is what I find to be the greatest benefit from Twitter as well; the ability to hear voices from all over the world. It brings us together in our discussions and thinking in a way common standards cannot.

    I am so appreciative of the seriousness, professionalism, and positivity demonstrated in chats, blogs, and conferences. I'm learning so much, but most of all conferences like #rscon10 cause me to reflect and refine the work I do with children as well as the way I interact in my school community. Most importantly, these conversations energize my teaching. Thanks for your thoughtful post and continued conversation.

    • George

      Thanks Cathy! What I found fantastic was actually hearing people that I connected with on Twitter. You felt like you knew them but you were still so excited to hear their voices. It was amazing to connect.

      I appreciate your comment and look forward to your continued connection :)

  8. Numbers 2 and 3 really hit a point with me. 2- I don't know why I let people ruffle my feathers so much, but it physically pains me when someone tells me how "lucky" I am to have my summers off. They usually regret it after I start counting off all the things teachers do during summer, as well as year-round. Maybe I'll just start handing out little cards with blog URLs on them and save my breath. haha

    3- Thanks for sharing that information about RIch, as well as your thought process on how the connections between you two has helped you learn and grow.

    … and since everyone is addressing the coughing issue: you are definitely not a person who worries too much what other people think! Self-deprecating humor is a good trait. :-) I have a lot to learn from you, my friend! 😉

    • George

      Seriously, if I don't laugh first at that pic, everyone else is going to beat me! I think that one of the nice things about what a lot of teachers do NOW is that you can see their work over summer. I like the card idea 😉

      Thanks for commenting!

  9. Good list, geo. #5 is most important – but I'd twist it another way. As you already know, individuals can make some really deep connections on Twitter. As well, there are many shallow(ish) connections. Partly due to this diversity, it is much easier to praise people for jobs well done. However, it is much more difficult to critique people's work (especially w/ shallow connections), and even more so, for people to take (healthy) critique well.

    In my experience on Twitter (I'm an old-timer, started way back in 2007) and through the early Edublog movement (2000ish+) – people still do not take critique well in these spaces, and it seems much too easy to fall into an echo/praise chamber.

    I think success in this medium, or really any medium concerning adults, depends upon a balance of thoughtful critique and praise when warranted. These acts work together.

    With that being said, I do want to praise the Reform Symposium for putting on an excellent event, for getting people hyped over important topics and for bringing in some excellent speakers. And George, I was proud of your presentation – it was excellent.

    • George

      I knew you would eventually bring out the "Geo" nickname on Twitter. Only a matter of time.

      I really appreciate you taking the time out to comment on my post first of all Alec. I always value what you say. Your knowledge in the area of Twitter and PLN's is far past mine so I appreciate what you are saying here. Especially as an administrator I have to learn from my critique as well as my praise if I truly want to grow. One thing that I am taking away from your comment is that the blog posts that irritate me, I need to do more than shut down the browser. I think I need to challenge the thinking in a respectable way so that both the author and myself can learn.

      I appreciate your kind words about my presentation. It means a lot to me. I also echo your sentiments towards the Reform Symposium. It was fantastic.

  10. Hi George,

    Once again…you have written a great post that really made me reflect on my own experiences in education. As I read there were a few points that really stuck out for me, but the number one thing that caught my attention today was the POWER OF A TEAM!

    I am fortunate enough at #vanmeter to be part of an amazing team. The two people that I work the closest with are my superintentent John Carver and secondary principal Deron Durflinger. We have been lucky enough to teach together, learn together, be in awe over our students together, present together, travel together, and see a wonderful change take place within our students and school community. As I strive to change education everyday, John and Deron are always the first two people to support me and cheer me on (even though sometimes they have to reel my excitement back just a bit. :) Deron's wife even refers to the three of us as "Team Twitter," which I smile at everytime I hear. John and Deron are two of my closest friends and I feel lucky to share the same passion they have for education, change, and our students! It is essential for all parts of a school….administration, teachers, teacher librarians, technology support, other staff, and especially students and parents to feel like they are part of an amazing team! Coming together within a school community is the first step in creating change and having an united VOICE to be heard!

    When I think of the POWER OF A TEAM I also think of our PLN! WOW! Everyday I am blown away by the way that people in my PLN influence and inspire me. I am a better teacher and person because of my PLN. I have been able to offer our kids at #vanmeter unbelievable opportunities thanks to my PLN. Without my PLN would Mark Moran from findingDulcinea have taught my 7th graders about Sweet Search? Would they have learned about YouTellYou all the way from New Zealand? Would I be teaching a Web 2.0/PLN class to our kids and Bill Bannick's high school students in Philly? The members of my PLN are part of my team and want to work with me to make sure our kids have these experiences in their education. They want me to also be the best I can be!

    From the relationships I have built with others has come a pretty powerful TEAM. I feel lucky and blessed to have such a great team behind me and our students everyday! Together we can all make a difference!

    Shannon

    p.s. Loved #6 too… :)

    • George

      Thanks for the comment Shannon…it is great to hear your thoughts and learn about what you are doing at your school. You inspire others just as much as you say you are inspired.

      I love your comments on the team aspect. I read two books this past year that inspired me to work in teams in our school. Tribal Leadership: http://www.triballeadership.net/ and Tribes by Seth Godin: http://amzn.to/chqOrO

      These books inspired me to try and help move our school forward through our Professional Development initiative. It was very successful and we are continuing it this year. http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/586

      The power of a team is always better than the power of one!

      Thanks again for your comment!

  11. A great reflection George.

    I also took heaps away from the conference at the weekend and since Sunday have opened Glogster accounts for all my kids, published my first blog and talked to my leadership team about running Identity Day during Education Week next year. To say I was inspired and motivated by the weekend's presentations is clearly an understatement!

    One of the things I found interesting was that in two presentations I actually recognised 3 other teachers who work near me and one who is my niece! Here we were collaborating in an online conference with other teachers from around the world and yet some of those people resources are obviously right in our backyard. So what you said about treating people in our work place the same way we treat each other on Twitter struck a chord. I think maybe sometimes we need to value our face to face contacts the same way we do our online networks.

    • George

      Absolutely Anne! I always talk about this with families that we sometimes take advantage of the security that we know we have with our family and closest friends. Little things like telling a colleague how much they inspired you may seem insignificant to you, but they can make someone's entire day!

      I am looking forward to seeing more of my colleagues take part in these sessions over summer and sharing our learning when we are back at school.

      Thanks for your comment!

  12. Another thoughtful post George,

    Thank you for the kind words. I see one of our main missions in life as connecting and supporting others. I'm am honored we have been able to connect and some day, maybe at a Lakers Spurs game, meet in person. Wishing you a fantastic year in Stony Plain. From an older Spurs fan to a younger Laker fan. G'day mate! Love the whatedsaid blog also! Peace through Education

    • George

      Rich! I am there. Thanks for reaching out to me and sharing your wisdom. I would only come up to San Antonio if I get to see you work in your school :) The Lakers game would just be a bonus! It means a lot to me that you commented.

  13. Hi Geo! (Geo is much better for Twitter, less characters!)

    I enjoyed what I saw of your session, despite the internet's attempts to spank me for not having broadband!

    I like #5, it'd be great if exchanges in conversations were limited to 140 characters (or words at a push), and instead of repeating what someone told you earlier in the day you could just say "retweet Jim 9:35am" to someone later on in the day!

    😀

  14. George,

    I didn't make to the conference. I was taking summer holidays which, in my scant 20 years in the profession, is something that I'm just learning needs to be done so that those areas of my life, family and friends, don't get lost and overrun by the virtual world. As I try to bring balance to an increasingly cramped day/week/month, I am noticing that many of the same people are taking part in almost all this summer's PD events – virtually and in person. I wonder about our collective ability to continue at this pace with no apparent time for rest. Maybe it's because my children, of which I have 8, make me make decisions about my time that many other people don't have to make or maybe because I'm at a point where I question the need to be constantly wired – have always questioned that constant need to interact with "someone" without having time for silent reflection – being okay with the silence of the world.

    Your #2 makes me cringe because I've heard it too many times when referring to the work teachers do. We do need to reflect and relax. I've worked in too many educational environments that have given lip-service to the idea of a "balanced life" but instead drive people to "constantly improve". It worries me when, even jokingly, we disregard something vital to what we do – reflect and rejuvenate.

    I'll probably take some heat for this but I've learned that if we just all jump on the bus and go along, we sometimes don't like where we end up. I think it's great that people like Rich and others are willing to take time out of their summer to attend such an event and participate. I think its an incredible feat to put on a global symposium that brings together educators to share their knowledge and learn from one another. As Alec has suggested, for the most part, the people in the choir are those who are in attendance who all believe in what they are doing and, given people are in attendance, the room begins to echo……

    You have some good points about our need to work globally and come together to share, to be more willing to be positive in our school/community environments and be willing to share and help one another. Unfortunately, it seems that we are spending the part of the summer PDing and conferencing and then, the second part, getting ready for the upcoming year with not a whole lot of other time. But, like I said, maybe my "life-situation" is much different than many of the others which makes me see things a bit differently….

  15. Another thoughtful, reflective post… I really enjoyed your presentation! I love coming to school each day, ready to engage with my students. I find it is effortless to praise them and I do it every chance I get, but this year I need to focus on providing that positive, supportive energy to my staff as well.

  16. What a great reminder to treat those beside you the way you treat those around the world in your PLN. Everyone, including me, craves the approval of their peers. I am amazed at how surprised my colleagues look when I tell them they've done a good job. I guess it's like family dynamics. Your kids are always awesome around other people, but get them home . . . .

    • George

      Thanks Matt! We are so kind to strangers but not to those we know best. Isn't this true for all facets of life? I will never be 100% on how I can treat people but I am definitely going to work harder. I really appreciate your comments and be nice to your kids 😉

  17. Once again…you have written a great post that really made me reflect on my own experiences in education. There are few things more important than the power of a strong team.

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