Strengths, Weaknesses, & Teams

Image of a chain with the quote overlaid over top of it, "You think it's a weakness? Make it a strength. It's a part of you. So use it."

Well, hi again. It’s been 11 months since we last spoke, and as you can see from my most recent blog post before this, I’m a fan of doing this. I don’t think I picked up another hobby as I mentioned previously, but I am getting married in 36 days. Two weeks before that, I’m moving into a new home. So busy busy busy.

Weakness: blogging consistently.

Strength: not hitting 1 year of no blog posts. #win

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on strengths and weaknesses, especially mine. I just graduated with my M.Ed. in Learning, Design, and Technology in May and started a new position as an Instructional Designer in February. Over the course of my graduate studies and not only starting a new position, but being a part of team inside a capital project at Penn State, it has opened my eyes even more to my strengths and weakness. Being a team player was always one of my strengths. I work well independently as well as in a team. I knew this, or did I? It wasn’t until I had to depend on other team members that I realized it’s been quite a while since I had to do this—since high school.

In high school, I ran cross country. Talk about an independent sport that required team dependence more than anything. You could individually win a race, but lose the entire meet because of your team. This required a great deal of dependence on your team to run well, too.

Fast forward 8 years, and all seems too familiar. Individually winning races does not do much for the team; it helps, but to win and be successful, a team effort is required. Sometimes we need to sacrifice our own win in lieu of helping another team member win their race. It’s been a while, but the true meaning of working together on a team is coming back to me…and it’s fantastical!

 

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Personal Learning Philosophy 2.0 (The Global One-Room Schoolhouse from J. Seely Brown)


My learning philosophy from 10 weeks ago hasn’t changed much. I chose to begin my video with a quote from Williams Butler Yeats, which also happens to be the first thing I wrote in my Personal Learning Philosophy v1. “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” This idea is extremely important to me and resonates with me on many levels. I mentioned before that my early educational experiences were mainly “filling of a pail”. Pretty boring. It almost feels like a chore. “Son, go and fetch some water!” No thanks. But when that switch turned, and I became excited about learning, something sparked inside of me. From that moment on, I was all about feeding my fire of learning. I started with this because it takes passion and excitement to get to this point where learning becomes fuel to your fire. When you can infuse excitement, passion, and relevancy into education, that is how you create engagement in learners.

I would have to say that my ideas around learning and education are in perfect alignment with John Seely Brown’s “The Global One-Room Schoolhouse” Vimeo video from his “Entrepreneurial Learner” keynote at DML2012. He talks about play as a “kind of a permission to fail, fail, fail, again and get it right.” I feel that this is incredibly important to give students a permission to fail, to give them an environment where they feel safe to question the status quo or even the teacher’s expertise. He later says in the video that “the key part of play is a space of safety and permission.” Brown also talks about epiphanies.

If we can create one epiphany for one child, that epiphany lasts for life for that kid. Brilliant teachers are brilliant in being able to create epiphanies for kids. How do we think about that? And how do we use play as a way to amplify the chance for that to happen.

What if every teacher’s goal was to create an epiphany for each one of their students? Maybe some teachers do strive for this. But I’m willing to be that this isn’t even on the radar of the majority of teachers. I want to cover two last quotes from Brown in his video:

In a world of constant change, if you don’t feel comfortable tinkering, you’re going to feel an amazing state of anxiety.

I love this idea because it’s so true. Everything around us is in a constant state of flux, and if you can’t adapt and be able to tinker with new technologies, it’s going to be a tough world. If we are teaching our students to tinker, to play, to be curious, we are teaching them to adapt to change. I wrote about the PlayMaker School in LA in a recent post. This is a great school that is really pushing the boundaries of what education is and how kids learn. If you haven’t heard about it, check it out!

And to close, Brown’s idea of taking the one-room schoolhouse idea of yesterday and mixing it with today’s classroom and technology to get the “global one-room schoolhouse” where “the teacher [isn’t] transferring knowledge, but the teacher [will act] as a coach, a will turn around and also teach the younger younger kids.” This is how the one-room schoolhouse operated. Why couldn’t we have a global one-room schoolhouse today? With social media and web 2.0 tools, this is absolutely feasible.

What will tomorrow’s classroom look like? How will it operate? What if tomorrow’s classroom partnered with a classroom from the other side of the world, every day? Now that would be cool.

 

Week 5 – The Journey to Becoming a Networked Learner & Educator

the-journey-network-300x209

I would like to start this post off a little different. I absolutely loved the readings this week and want to list a few of my favorite one-liners.

“do-it-yourself professional development (DIYPD)” (Richardson 33)

“what we learn about how to interact with others online is just as important as what we learn about the topics at hand” (Richardson 35)

“Without sharing, there is no education.” [quoted from Brigham Young professor David Wiley, 2008] (Richardson 35)

“The people, conversations, and content that you’ll be immersing yourself in are distributed all over the web, glued together with the judicious use of links by the people you connect with.” (Richardson 36)

“serendipitous learning” (Richardson 37)

“planet-scale sharing” [as author Clay Shirkey (2010) calls it] (Richardson 38)

“What if you thought of Twitter as a place to share not just your life but the conversations and content that really make you think about whatever your passions are?” (Richardson 39)

“it’s not a race; no one is grading you, and everyone will travel a different path.” (Richardson 54)

“To teach is to model and to demonstrate. To learn is to practice and to reflect.” (Siemens [in quoting Stephen])

“An educator needs a point of existence online – a place to express herself and be discovered” (Siemens)

“Persistent presence in the learning network is needed for the teacher to amplify, curate, aggregate, and filter content and to model critical thinking and cognitive attributes that reflect the needs of a discipline.” (Siemens)

Honorable Mentions: “link love” (39); “digital footprint” (41); “The weblog, or ‘blog,’ is the granddaddy of social media” (50); “Facebook is the eight-hundred-pound gorilla of social networking” (52)

Now that I have that out of my system, let’s take a look at what I see as the most important areas of professional development for educators to become 21st century educators. I believe one of the most important areas for educators will be the development of their own DIYPD, or do-it-yourself professional development, as mentioned in Richardson and Mancabelli’s Personal Learning Networks book. This term fascinated me and I wasn’t sure why at first, and then I realized that I have always been a “DIPYD-er”, at least in the sense that Richardson and Mancabelli talk about it. I grew up connected. From an early age, I remember sitting at the computer desk with my dad, waiting for the dial-up connection to stop buzzing and making weird noises. I wasn’t really sure what that meant, but I didn’t really care either. All I knew was that when it finished, I could log onto AIM with my super-old, cheesy screen-name, zboarderxl1. I think I was 7 or 8 at the time. That is when I began building my network of connections. That is when I became infatuated with the digital world. I consider AIM my gateway drug. I then got hooked on Xanga and MySpace, and eventually Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogger, and just about every other social media networking application out there. It is a crazy world of connections, and I believe the first step in 21st century DIYPD is being connected and building a vast network of quality connections.

Being connected is just the tip of the iceberg. Richardson and Mancabelli provide an awesome blueprint to maximizing your potential out of your “networked learning environment” (35).

  • Passion to learn
  • Sharing
  • Quality, not quantity
  • Well-developed sense of self-direction
  • Balance
  • Reflection
  • Face-to-face networks

Start with your passion. Whatever your passion is, there is someone else out there that shares it. It doesn’t matter if your passion isn’t your profession, start with it, and then go from there. And don’t forget to share along the way. A link here, a quote there, maybe a video or personal opinion, work your way up to blog posts! An important rule to remember when you began making connections is quality, not quantity. It’s all about the type of connections you make, now how many. Once you get started, you may find yourself lost in world of links and unlimited resources. SocialMediaThis is where a “well-developed sense of self-direction” come into play. You must learn how to navigate this ridiculous, confusing, dangerous, and endless digital world. That may sound daunting, but once you catch the hang of it, don’t forget balance. Balance is key. Turn everything off. Don’t let your smartphone become handcuffs. I know for me, I sometimes find myself held captive by those tiny, little red bubbles on my iPhone that tell me I have a notification. It won’t hurt “going dark” every now and then and enjoying grass and trees, and this thing called the outdoors! Next is reflection. Pretty basic, reflect on what you are learning. Are you learning? And last but not least, the digital world is nothing without your face-to-face networks. What’s the point of being connected to someone on the other side of the world if you can’t share that information with your co-workers or next door neighbors? That’s it. That’s Richardson and Mancabelli’s blueprint to networked learning environments.

For educators, I feel building a personal networked learning environment through DIPPY is absolute necessary to becoming an efficient 21st century educator. While building this networked learning environment, you will come across and use so many tools, you will start to lose track of user names and passwords. I would recommend mastering a select few of these tools. Pick out 2-3 tools and really dive into the nitty-gritty and understand exactly how they work. Understanding this will not only help you to develop a richer network, but it will also allow you to better understand your students, as they have already mastered most of these tools. networked-teacher1Before I move on, I want to reiterate Richardson and Mancabelli’s point that they mention several times. Do not jump right into using these tools in your classroom. Become familiar with them. This is so important because if you don’t necessarily understand key terms or functions, your students may leave you in the dust during assignments or even worst, students may become disengaged because of the lack of usability by their teacher leading the assignment.

I’m going to end with another blueprint, one outlined by Siemens in his Connectivism blog post,  “Teaching in Social and Technological Networks“. Here he outlines what it looks like to be an educator in these networked learning environments:

  • Amplifying
  • Curating
  • Wayfinding and socially-driven sensemaking
  • Aggregating
  • Filtering
  • Modelling
  • Persistent presence

By mastering these seven fundamentals, teachers will began to transform from “controlling” a class to “influencing” a class and their learning networks. This is another essential element in bridging the gap from 20th century teaching/learning and 21st century teaching/learning.

 

Siemens. Connectivism. Teaching in Social and Technological NetworksWordPress, 16 Feb. 2010. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://www.connectivism.ca/?p=220&gt;.

Richardson, Will and Rob Mancabelli. Becoming a Networked Learner. Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education. Rosolina, Rachel. ed. New York. Solution Tree Press. 2011. 193554327X. pp. 33-57.