Tag Archives: sharing

Something Old is Something New


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Brian Moore

From several conversations, one of the biggest reasons that many people say that they have nothing “new” to share with an audience. This fear is often confirmed when you hear people say things such as, “Reading blogs is like reading the same thing over and over again.” Pretty tough to jump in when you hear comments like this and the fear of lacking originality is a big deal.

The reality is though, the more connected someone is, the less likely they are to see many new ideas. It is rare that I see any speaker and I haven’t already read their material, looked up their work, and know their message before they deliver it. As a speaker myself, if you read my blog, you probably have a good idea of what I am going to talk about. What I do know is that the majority of people that watch me speak have never read my blog. Whatever I am sharing to the majority of the audience is something that they may not have heard before, or maybe, I am presenting in my own unique way.

One of my biggest struggles with being connected is seeing something that is “amazing” one day, that dominates the sharing online, yet a week later, that same piece is just lost in the shuffle. There are a lot of articles that I bookmark and refer to often and have shared several times, sometimes including my own.

My rationale? What is old to you might be new to someone else.

For example, I just met someone the other day that talked about doing “Identity Day” and how they fell upon this idea only recently. This is something that I had shared almost four years ago but they are only seeing for the first time. The other component that I found interesting? Although I shared this work from our school where it was an “original” idea (I think…I mean it is REALLY hard to have an original idea) from my assistant principal, yet they referenced being inspired by Chris Wejr sharing the idea from the work that he has done at his school.

Now some people would be bothered by this, but I honestly could care less. Chris has always referenced that he got the idea from my former school in his posts but not everyone remembers that in reading his post. Ultimately, if your school is doing this day and it helps your kids, why wouldn’t I want it to be shared? Identity Day was one of, if not the most powerful day I have ever seen with students. I am glad that others are sharing it.

So a couple of things to think about it…

The chance of your work being “original” to everyone, in many cases, is “slim to nil”. But the chance that your work is original to someone is extremely high. There are more people connecting everyday which means there is always a new audience. I am not encouraging that you steal other people’s ideas and use them as your own, but rather crediting where you got the idea from, and sharing it with others. This is part of the “remix” culture that we live in and have to embrace as educators. Sometimes the best ideas at one school, need some tweaking for another. Each iteration of an idea opens opportunities for others.

The other thing is that writing should always start with your own reflection in mind. I use blogging as a way to work through my ideas and knowing that I am reflecting openly pushes me to really clarify. I rarely, if ever, write the exact idea that I started with. The process of writing helps me to connect my ideas and bring them to life.

To all of the people that complain that there are new original ideas out there on Twitter or in the blogosphere, just remember that once those ideas were once totally new to you while old to someone else. And those same “old ideas” probably sparked you to action then, as they might spark someone to action now.

Share away!

Your Choice to Share and My Choice to Look


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Roger Mommaerts

There is an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David goes to visit his friend Jeff at his new house.  Jeff’s wife Suzie is so excited to have someone see the new place–she immediately offers to give Larry “the tour.”  As only Larry David could do, he looks at her and says, “I’m good.”  He then goes on about how he “gets it” and understands what a house looks like and is comfortable not seeing what she has to share.  Immediately, she gets extremely upset and kicks Larry out of the house for his rudeness and obvious disinterest.

The funny thing about the whole incident is that Larry says what a lot of people are thinking.  I know that I am not really big on seeing someone else’s because I feel that “I get it.”  I also understand the other side of it–where you are excited to share something and you have a limited audience.  The interesting thing in Larry’s situation is that most people would think that he is rude for not having an interest in seeing what Suzie has to share.

So let’s say Suzie has a Facebook account and she decides that she is going to post a picture of every single room in her house.  What you will hear often about these people is that they tend to over-share, are narcissistic and self-indulgent.  The difference here is, she is still sharing but with a wider audience that has a choice to look or not.

So, share in-person with everyone that walks into your house and you are a good host, whether they care or not. But share on social media where only people who want to look do, and you are narcissistic.

#makessense

Often, my friends would go on trips, take a disposable camera, develop their pictures and share every single picture they took on the trip, no matter the quality.  This was a common thing for many.  A lot of people took these pictures to capture their memories, but many of them took them to also share their experiences with others.  Did we call these people self-indulgent?  Nope.  This was because this was what we grew up with.  Often their pictures were of a much worse quality because the way we developed pictures was not as cheap and easy to filter.  Nothing like looking at pictures with thumbs covering half of the shot!

Sometimes, the idea that people are more narcissistic now because of technology bothers me.  Many people have always been narcissistic, but maybe, now, we just have more opportunities to share?  Taking every single person through a room in your new house doesn’t seem too much different to me than posting a picture of every room in your new house on Facebook.  The big difference to me is I can choose to look if I want.

It drives me crazy when people complain about people over-sharing because we have a choice to view what we like.  I remember “unfriending” someone on Facebook because all of their status updates were of a negative nature and complained about how horrible life was.  They were like demotivational quotes that were REALLY effective.  Did I complain about it?  Maybe a little bit, but eventually I just chose to not look.  She had every right to post as I had every right to not look.

But I will tell you this.  My sister-in-law is a chronic “over-sharer.”  EVERY SINGLE DAY I have to put up with a bunch of pictures of her kids (my nephew and nieces) and watch them grow up in front of my eyes.  So annoying right?

Wrong.

Every single time she shares a picture of my nephew and nieces growing up, I am thankful that she does this.  I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like, but when I do, I am not surprised about how much they have grown because I am able to connect and see them often.  They also get to see me, and when I walk in, no matter the length of time, they run to me and tell me that they love me.  If my awesome sister-in-law did not share the kids growing up, I don’t think that I would feel as close to them.  Are her pictures for everyone?  Nope, but they are amazing to me and I am glad she shares as much as she does.

 

Empower Their Voice


cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by HowardLake

It seems that serendipitously, if you are continuing to read blogs, some ideas that may be floating around in my head are made clearer by reading what others wrote.  In many of my conversations with educators and students, we have talked about empowering students to have a voice in not only learning, but to actually make a difference in the world.  Bloggers like Martha Payne and my friend Alyssa have inspired many in different ways through their blogs and by sharing their voice.  In both of those instances though, it was not necessarily a school or teacher empowering them to do this, but a parent who guided and gave them an opportunity.

So why should a teacher give these same opportunities in the classroom, especially with the demands of the profession and often an overwhelming curriculum that we must cover. In an article by Dana Edell titled, “Why Students Should Blog”, she discusses the power of blogging and why it is beneficial to our kids:

Though often more informal than structured essays, blogging can encourage young people to trust that their written words have power and that expressing themselves through written storytelling can transform themselves and our communities.

In the same article, Edell shares the story of a young woman challenging a company on some of the stereotypes that there were reinforcing with their product line and how her voice had made a difference:

Stephanie, 22, wrote a piece in December critiquing a popular toy company’s new line that was marketed for girls. She believed that the company’s pink and purple beauty salon reinforced negative gender stereotypes. She was angry. She wrote about it. Her blog post circulated throughout the blogosphere and eventually garnered a Twitter response from the toy company. SPARK decided to take the issue further and launched a petition that was supported by a dozen more blog posts by girls, expressing their charged opinions about the toys. Mass mainstream and social media attention led to a meeting with executives at the toy company. We have recently seen positive changes from this company, showing us that they not only read our concerns, but also listened and took action. It all started with a blog.

 Pretty neat huh?  A young woman voicing her opinion and making a difference; isn’t that something we want to happen because of schools?

I was then pushed to think about the art of writing from a post I read from Ryan Bretag and how what we do with student blogging  often takes away from the things that we love in the blogs we read (transparency and emotion are two big ones for me):

What makes us want to make everything fit into our preconceived notions of school assignments and activities? Why do we value and appreciate the great blogs that are out there BUT FAIL TO USE THOSE AS MODELS for students and their blogs? Why do we use models so far removed from what we consider powerful?

This is not to say that every teacher is intentionally doing this but the reality is that it is happening.

I get that not all students will be writing at the level of the blogs we read but that isn’t what I’m referencing when I say use those as models. I mean modeling the qualities that draw us time and time again to blogs.

Simply telling our kids what they should blog about does not make them their blogs. It makes them our blogs that the students are simply writing; there is little ownership and it is not something where we empower our students to actually use their thoughts and their voice. 

If we want our students to make a difference in the world (not only in the future but now), and blogging is something that we see as an opportunity for doing this, how do help them take this next step?

Well…here’s one way…

I have been watching Jabiz Raisdana’s work regarding student blogging very closely and he gives some fantastic advice to educators on getting authentic student voice:

Blogging is about trust. Trust takes time. Students must feel safe to become vulnerable and open up. This trust is not built online, but in your classroom, when you are together, as a group, face-to-face. It is built through effective classroom discussions at the table and understanding the power of commenting and conversations. It is building offline spaces that are fun and creative and open to new ideas and projects. It is built by  sharing as much of yourself with your students as you can. Share your music, your ideas, and texts that move you. Share your contacts and friends and model what you teach. Use your network to show the power of networks. Before you know it your students will be writing about all kinds of things…

What I was most impressed with Jabiz was not what he had shared with educators, but what he had shared with his students to build that trust and show his belief in them.  He recently wrote a post entitled, “I Believe“, which he openly shares how he is inspired by his students:

I believe in you. I believe in your voice and your writing. What you write and how you write, right now in your life is you. For better or for worse it is true. If you wait until you are writing is perfect or good or accepted you will be waiting forever. If you wait to be yourself and stand behind your ideas you will wait forever. Confidence is about being happy with who you are and where you are in terms of skills. Confidence isn’t about measuring up to other people’s expectations. I don’t believe in good or bad or ranks or judgements or comparing or anxiety. I believe in confidence through risk and self-esteem through vulnerability. I believe in trust. I believe in communities.

An open, honest, and caring post that models what we would want from our students.  And what does he get from this?  A student that writes an amazingly powerful, courageous and honest post that, at this moment, has over 70 comments from people all over the world inspired by the honesty of his message:

And I envy those people in the Lunch queue who just turn around, talk to random people and become best friends (and beyond) instantly. I find it hard to go beyond my class. And those lunch groups. ARGHHHHHH. I try to join them, but how? Do I just walk up, come up with something amazing to say and just hang out? Because I can never find the right thing to say. And I’m not popular. And people don’t take me seriously…But then there are the endless websites that tell you to be yourself and not change your personality. So now what? How do I change the fact that people go “Oh, what’s Solal doing here?”to my face? And if they say that to my face, what must they say behind my back?

Judging by the comments and honestly, my own feelings, Solal inspired many kids and adults alike with his words. Sharing his experiences of what many of us have gone through, he has shown us that we are not alone.  Again, the thoughtful use of technology can bring people together and humanize us in different ways.

A couple of things here.  Does Solal have the understanding of how to blog this if his teacher does not model it first and give him the opportunity?  Does Solal have the courage to write this post if his teacher does not show his belief in him?  I will be honest here that I believe that we can never really teach this to our students if we do not experience this opportunity ourselves.  Many educators are working with their students to try and give them the opportunity that they themselves have experienced and many educators are starting to wonder what would happen if all teachers blogged.  Our voices matter.

How are you empowering the voice of your students?  Stories like these strengthen my resolve that we have to continue to create these opportunities for our kids to make a difference in our world.  And if it wasn’t for so many that shared their thoughts and stories, I am not sure that I would have been able to write this post myself.

Thanks to all of you that are willing to share.

(If you are reading this and thinking, “I should really start blogging”, here are some links that might help you get started.)

What Schools Can Learn From the World of Photography

The best camera  you have is the one with you.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Nico Kaiser

I have taken a big interest in visuals and photography as I have found some amazing photo sites on the web, as well as simply enjoying using apps such as Instagram (along with a large chunk of the world).  Recently, I was struck by this quote:

“(On digital photography) No wasted film, slides, or prints. And we are aware of this relationship between mistakes and consequences when we pick up the camera—so we click away, taking many more photos digitally than we would have in a world of costly film. Because we know failure is free, we take chances, and in that effort we often get that one amazing picture that we wouldn’t have if we were paying for all the mistakes.” John Hamm

When I thought about it, I wondered about the photography industry and how it has probably changed a great deal in the last ten years because of the evolution of digital photography.  As I am admittedly no more of an expert on the field of photography as I am a strong photographer, I still wanted to share some observations and thoughts on what we can learn from photography and how it applies to what we do in school.  The field of photography has grown and schools could probably learn a few lessons from the field.

1.  The technology is better and cheaper which changes everything. When I first started teaching in 1999, one of my first purchases with a “grown up” cheque was a $600 digital camera that was considered to be “top of the line” at the time.  There was still at this time a huge divide in the “digital” camera camp and those that still used traditional cameras.  At the time, I used the technology to upload to my computer so I could print it off on bad photo paper.  The quality was terrible and I get much better images now from my iPhone, while also being able to take a lot more pictures.

Now, do we still focus on “digital” cameras as this technology has become the norm?  You can create some amazing images with even an iPhone and most people now literally carry a camera in their pocket.  With this access, the quality of images overall are not necessarily better, but more people have the opportunity to take part in this activity, in a meaningful way.  It is not just about developing pictures to post on a wall, but sites like Flickr, have made it easier to share our lives through visuals and have changed the way we even think about photography.  The biggest strictly “mobile” community is now Instagram and it is growing more every day.

When technology gets better, we must rethink the way we do things.  With more access to more people, the way we do things will obviously change.

A low quality photo from a “top of the line” camera in 1999. Still has meaning though since it is showing me and the kids :)

A higher quality pic of “the kids” in 2012 from my phone.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by gcouros

2. Communities make us (or force us to be) better. Because of communities like Flickr and Instagram, there is more sharing that leads to more innovation.  I have seen some amazing wedding photos, some hilarious ones, and some that you probably wouldn’t post in an album.  With all of these wedding photos are being done, do you think that the “traditional” ideas are still used in such a widespread manner?  With this access to so many different ideas, it is not only the photographer that benefit, but it is also the customer that can share what they have seen to get the perfect picture.  The idea of looking through a “book”, or even website, at some of the best pictures one photographer has done limits the customer to only the mind and work of that photographer.  These communities can inspire everyone with new ideas that they can all use or build upon.

When we share ideas, everyone benefits.

An awesome and unique wedding photo…professional or amateur? Any idea?

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by kelly niemann

3.  Create a culture where risks are accepted.  This idea was sparked by the initial quote at the beginning of this post and has resonated with me.  As a child, I remember using my parents’ camera and each image was like valuable currency.  You did not want to waste those images on any picture that could have turned out to be of a poor quality, and once the film roll was done, it was done.  Trying something different was out of the question at the fear you would literally run out of the opportunity to try it again.  Digital has changed that.  If we don’t like the picture, we can simply delete it and try again.  Don’t like the next one?  Delete it again.  The idea that there is little risk involved in our efforts, can lead ultimately to a better product although that it may take time.  Are we patient and comfortable enough with this mindset in schools?

Do we have schools that promote this type of culture where risks are encouraged?  The “digital photography” mindset is something that we should look to adopt more with both our staff and students.

4.  The more access, the more we have to rethink the way we have always done things.  With  the progressions in the field of photography, do you think the “professional” photographer has not had to adapt to the way things have always been done? I have many friends who have jobs and do wedding photography as a hobby on the side. No formal training, no formal schooling, but simply an interest in photography.

I will never forget when my sister was married and seeing the price of the actual prints and thinking how outrageous the cost was.  People are doing quality work for a much lower price which will ultimately have people that are industry rethink the way that we have done.

School is in this same boat.  Some educators are very hesitant about the “Sal Khan’s” of the world that are not trained educators, yet people like him are influencing the way many others outside of the profession think about education.  You don’t think it has impact?  Look at how many teachers are talking about “flipping the classroom” or “flipping the faculty meeting“.  It is not that Khan invented the idea of “flipping”, but did he help to make it mainstream?

With all of the options out there for education, we have to really think about the way schools do “business” or we are going to be “out of business”.  Just look at the music industry and how much they lost but they were only dealing with money.  We can’t afford to lose our kids.

If you don’t like changeyoull like irrelevance even less.” ◦ – General Eric Shinseki

 


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Byflickr

Where Sharing Exists, Innovation Flourishes


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by RuffRyd

A few months ago when I first heard the song “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen, I thought it was, if anything, annoying with some weird lyrics.  In the last few weeks though, I have kind of become addicted to it as I have heard it in so many different voices and genres.  I saw this article talking about all of the different versions that have been remade of the song and posted on YouTube:

 The infectious track about a girl with a crush was labeled the “perfect pop song” by Emma Carmichael at Gawker, who calls it “maddeningly addicting.” (Watch the music video here.) Already, it’s inspired a host of lip-synched viral video covers — starring unlikely crooners ranging from the Harvard varsity baseball team to James Franco — and has inspired unique clips starring the likes of Jimmy Fallon and President Obama.

After watching a few of these, I decided to put a sample of a few of them together for a presentation that I recently delivered and here was the result:

What was extremely interesting about all of these remakes of this song, was that it has seemingly inspired the original artist to put together a remake of her own song with Jimmy Fallon, which at this point, is almost at 6 million views.

The circle continued and while I was actually in Australia, I noticed a Sesame Street remake of the Carly Rae Jepsen remake which is actually quite hilarious.

The learning and the creating seems to go on and on, and probably will not step for a long time.  But with all of this, who in the end wins?

Well actually it is simple.

Everyone.

The consumer gets to enjoy some top quality content, or some hilarious parodies and may be inspired.

The people remixing the work benefit because they have the ability to be creative and share their work with the world.

And ultimately, the creator of the original content wins. Big.

I remember that I did not even like this song until I saw the Jimmy Fallon version, as I felt a connection to the musical instruments that were being used from an elementary classroom.  Before then, I simply found the song annoying.  But as I saw different versions, the song seemed to get stuck in my head, and gained more notoriety, or even popularity.  By shutting down all the new versions, what would the artist gain?  Less people would hear her song and ultimately, it would actually make less money.  It would have perhaps also stifled the creator of the original content.

Would this song have been as big if alternate versions weren’t created and shared?  I highly doubt it.

Organizations and schools need to learn from this.  Where sharing exists, innovation flourishes.  Everyone wins.

I saw this David Wiley quote before, and it states the following:

If there is no sharing, there is no teaching.

To actually build upon that, I would make one simple tweak that the process of all of these remakes reveals to be clearly evident.

If there is no sharing, there is no learning.

 How do we as schools learn from the openness of the web and how sharing actually promotes growth of all those involved?

 

Why YOUR Sharing Matters


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by andrew_mc_d

I am going to have to admit it; the term “lurker” drives me nuts.

I know that there is an amount of time where someone is becoming comfortable with the idea of social media, but many have admitted to me that they just look at all the great resources yet are uncomfortable tweeting from their own account.  My response to this is that they simply “retweet” some of the great content they are reading.  You do not have to have original content or come up with the next “big thing” but simply just share.

Here is an example of how sharing and a simple retweet can create a ripple effect.

This morning (in Australia), I received a tweet from someone I don’t know.

Being the “cyber sleuth” that I am, before I responded, I checked out who they were and their tweets.  I was not sure if it was a legitimate account or not since I did not recognize the name, although I recognized the #sd36learn hashtag that they used in their tweet.  This process is something that I do for many tweeters that send me a message because there is definitely some spam out there.  Here is what I found in their profile:

So…not many followers and not many tweets.  Most would be thrown off by this but I was interested in what he had to share so I went through his tweets.  Sure enough, I found this little gem:

So now, with his 26 tweets and his 15 followers, @MrAbdolall simply retweeted a great article that I will now be using as the basis of my “Digital Footprint” workshop (I am still in the process of creating it but feel free to use) that I will be doing in Adelaide, Australia on Wednesday.  It really is that simple.  As I tried to prepare for this workshop, there were so many good ideas that I wanted to talk about, but the Forbes article just made the information so nice and succinct, making it way easier to put together.

So my suggestion to new tweeters…

You may not have many followers and you may not be blogging or creating the next BIG IDEA, but what you share still matters.  You never know the impact you can have by sharing a link or a blog post.  Simply retweeting good information can help anyone, including someone like myself who has almost 40,000 tweets to his credit, continue to learn and grow.

Keep sharing.  That’s it.

Does talent mean as much if no one sees it?


cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by BenjaminThompson

Talking with a good friend about the Justin Bieber documentary “Never Say Never” (not kidding) and some of the key points from the movie, I thought about the Google Chrome video featuring the ‘Biebs’.  I have actually watched the movie and was actually surprised at how talented he was at such an early age.  Through sharing a few videos of his music with his grandma on YouTube, he was ‘discovered’ and is now one of the biggest stars in the world (like it or not).

I think of stories like his, the PS22 chorus, Maria Aragon, and this post from Dean Shareski about ‘Robbing Students of Recognition‘.  In it, Dean, shares the following quote:

And then there is the rest. There are kids with special talents that few people know about. What about them? I would bet our schools are full of kids like Tanner but their talent is in Art, or Drama, or Math, or Writing etc. Most kids probably don’t even know where their talent is! But if they did, would they be able to open the doors like Tanner has? How does a superior math student get “recruited” to a University? Can a dance student get into the National Ballet if nobody knows what they have accomplished? At some point everyone needs to “sell themselves” in a job interview, or a business proposal, or even a meeting with the bank manager for your first mortgage.   If we can show kids that their accomplishments are to be proud of, and that the accomplishments are not anonymous, we can teach self confidence, and true self esteem.

Who knows?  We may have the next Biebs of math, science, or whatever, existing in our schools right now, but will anyone know if we don’t give them the opportunity to share their talents with the world?  Talent has to be developed and exist, but you can even watch videos of many “Internet sensations” who shared their learning and progressively got better in a public forum (have you heard of the ‘Book of Awesome‘?  It started as a guy blogging, not someone who was a professional writer).

It is always our number one to keep our kids in a safe environment at school, but teaching them how to not only “survive” in a digital world, but to thrive in it is imperative.

What say you?

I think the Google Chrome video on Justin Bieber shows how quickly technology can accelerate a career.

another reason to share…


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Swami Stream

Do you know the child in the picture above?  If he were in your classroom, would you do everything to help him?  Even if he wasn’t in your classroom, wouldn’t you still do everything to help him?

I learn more every single day that every time you share something with other educators, you are helping not only them, but more importantly, you are helping their students.  We all got into the profession to help kids, not kids in a specific class, in a specific school, for one year only.

Individually, the idea that “no one cares what I have to share” is an easy cop out.  Not everyone cares because we all have different roles, but there is some teacher out there that can take what you have done, adapt it, modify it, and tailor it to exactly what their kids need.

“It’s not where you take things from, it’s where you take things to.” Jean-Luc Goddard

Organizationally, the idea that you need to hide your best ideas from your “competition” is not doing what is “best for kids”.  In your vision statement, you will most likely have something along the lines that states, “Success for all children”, not,  “Success for all children that live within our school boundaries”.  When your organization shares your best ideas with your own community, the neighbouring community, and the world, you help push education locally and globally.  When you share your ideas, that is seen and recognized and makes your school/division a place where people want to be. We always encourage our teachers to share with one another; our organizations need to model that on a large scale.

Every time you share, you help the kids like the kid in the picture above, your kids, and kids everywhere.  We became educators to do what is best for (all) kids and I personally try to focus on that every day.

…and this is why teachers should have blogs

I have been a big advocate of blogging for teachers, but not until I started doing it myself.  Personally, I realized that the time I take to sit down and reflect on what I do, what I read, or what I observe has really helped my own path as an educator and an administrator.  Sometimes, for my own clarification, I go back and read my own blog to look at what I have done and how I can continuously work on it to improve. This transparent way of learning is something that I believe can not only improve the teaching profession as a whole (for example, take a look at the conversation on this Pernille Ripp post from today), but is something that could really improve learning for our students.

Dean Shareski talked about this in his article entitled, “How to Make Better Teachers“, and the one word he used for his answer was “blogging”.  Dean pushes this concept and shares how blogging mirrors some of the same objectives of Professional Learning Communities:

I’ve yet to hear anyone who has stuck with blogging suggest it’s been anything less than essential to their growth and improvement. I’ve no “data” to prove this but I’m willing to bet my golf clubs that teachers who blog are our best teachers. If you look at the promise of Professional Learning Communities that our schools have invested thousands, more likely millions to achieve, blogs accomplish much of the same things. The basic idea of the PLC is to have teachers share practice/data and work in teams to make improvements. A good blog does this and more.

Taking Dean’s advice on giving teachers a blog, I encouraged our new teachers to the division to start blogging and several of them showed up at my office asking me to set them up immediately.  The reason I am even writing this post is by watching some of our Parkland School Division teachers jumping into the practice of blogging, with one new teacher writing a fantastic post on her own learning with one of division’s initiatives.  Kendra shared what she was learning not only with her students and parents, but with the entire world.  We often talk about going to professional development and what are we going to do on Monday to improve practice.  She didn’t even wait until she returned before she started implementing the practice and starting asking questions of her students, while sharing her own learning:

(Discussing the Dalton Sherman video) What powerful message did you think of?  Some of the powerful messages that we came up with include:

  1.  We need to believe in each of our individual students and our class as a whole.
  2. We need to believe in ourselves and our abilities, and believe that our students needs us.
  3.  We need to believe in our colleagues and they need to believe in us.

What an amazing way to share our initiatives in the school division while also deepening her own learning.

After reading that post, an older post of Kendra’s popped up in my reader where she did research on a topic suggested by her “star student”.  The student has an interest in Pokemon and Kendra quoted the student in her blog post:

One of my favourite things is Pokemon. My favourite Pokemon is Mesprit because he is one of the keys to finding Dialiga. My brother gives me Pokemon cards. One of the coolest Pokemons is Lugia. I go crazy for Pokemon.

She then goes on to detail the research process that she went through to learn about the student’s interest which I found absolutely brilliant for a couple of reasons.  Here, the teacher is modelling the learning process for her students, while also building a relationship with the student through transparently showing interest in a topic of the child’s choice.  I guarantee that Pokemon is nowhere in the curriculum, but what this teacher did goes way beyond that.

What amazed me about this whole process was that this is coming from a  new teacher (I know she is new to our division but not sure about teaching) who has only just started blogging.  I did not have the time to go over in any detail with teachers why they should blog, I just gave them the platform to do so.  Whether you have been teaching one year, or 30, there is so much we can learn from everyone.

Although Dean’s post was entitled, “How to Make Better Teachers“, from what I am seeing, it could have been easily entitled, “How to Make Better Schools”.  There is so much we can learn from one another.  We need to continuously work to create the culture and environment where sharing is the norm and learning is transparent.