June 25, 2019

Summer Series...Do Not Be Afraid

Over the years I have presented at many conferences and workshops. Many have been technology related and others have leaned more towards leadership. The theme has ALWAYS been the same...there is a real barrier to integrating technology into life...a mindset.

I have mentioned before my summer class on technology from a couple of years ago. I aptly named it "Not So Scary World of Technology." I realized quickly that to my students, that was opposite of the truth.

They were scared.

Generational thinking does have something to do with it. Folks older than me talk about the days of pushing a button or typing something in and completely ruining their computer. I get that. But, that world has changed dramatically. Don't get me wrong, those pieces of equipment still exist. But with the availability of user-friendly technology, one can easily avoid that pitfall.

Still, the fear exists.

One of the common statements I heard was, "I did not have technology growing up." Or, "this wasn't around for me to learn on when I was younger." I always agreed but responded readily with the statement..."neither did I!"

My first TV was black and white. I had a TRS-80 computer that, other than games and little programming book we had, did absolutely nothing. We didn't even hook it up all of the time. I had rotary phones and even had to rent a VCR one time...yeah, you could rent a VCR! My first email account was a free one that you got when you signed up at Blockbuster Video (remember that place??). And...I did not have a cell phone or internet until college.

So...I did not grow up with the type of technology that we are seeing today either.

I will be honest though, technology is growing so fast that some of it does scare me as well. It could be those darn Terminator movies I watched when I did not have internet. I really do have a healthy fear that SkyNet could take over the world at anytime.

What does save me though...I am not afraid to explore. I have a mindset that allows me to tinker and problem-solve and learn these "new-fangled thingies." The good news, you can have this too!

Sugata Mitra conducted experiments in India in the early 2000s. Long story short, he set up computers in places he knew kids had not be exposed. Guess what...in short time they figured those suckers out. He replicated this experiment over and over with similar results.

Watch this Ted Talk for more detail about his experiments.

Interestingly enough, he said the kids would slow down or stop when the adults showed up...why is that?

Is it because the adults do not speak their language?

Is it because the adults do not have the same curiosity?

Probably a little of both.

At some point in our lives that curiosity starts to fade. It could have something to do with careers, families or a combination of many things. But, it is true. A vast majority of us lose that love of learning and that no fear mindset of trying new things as we get older. We need to GET THAT BACK!

How does that happen?

If you are a leader, you should rethink the things you or your culture may be doing to stifle creativity. Ever heard of the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule?? This could be helpful in prioritizing your workload and life.

If you are in the trenches, are you afraid because of your culture? If you are a leader are you contributing to that culture?

The fact is, the world is changing...FAST! The way we educate (both kids and adults) has to change as well. We talk a great deal about personalized learning for students but what about adults too. Personally, it is imperative that our focus on our education be something that is directly related to what we need to learn. The result of that, preparing young learners to also personalize and be responsible for his or her learning as well.

So, a call to action...find something that intrigues you in the world of technology integration and get better at it. Do not try to master everything that comes across your blog feed or Twitter account, you will end up not mastering anything. Choose what is important, what is going to make the biggest impact in your learning and GO WITH IT!

Happy Tinkering!


Would you like to see more of this blog? How about a weekly e-newsletter about tips, strategies and other cool things?

June 19, 2019

Summer Series...Why we do what we do...

passion for students

Most of the people who read this are teachers. But, even if you are not one I am sure you can search your soul for why you do what you do. If by chance you never get these reminders, then maybe you need to rethink what you are doing. Not to be critical, but this life is way too short to not be doing things you are passionate about.

Back to the reminders...I received one the other day in the form of a private message on Twitter.

college signing
I am sure this guy won't mind me sharing because as excited as I was for him, I know he was even more excited. You see, Ty has decided to attend college and play football and invited me to his signing/recognition. I literally got chills when I saw that message and immediately made plans to be there.

Flashback about 12 years when I was his principal at Jack T. Farrar Elementary School. I will admit, Ty and I had our ups and downs and I was hard on him. But, I never gave up on him and he knew that. Oh yeah, I also followed him to middle school too. Same drill...Ty acts goofy, Mick is hard on him. His mom even asked if I was going to follow him to high school. I told her that I think Ty is ready to have school without me.

So, here we were at Ty's high school waiting on the obligatory photos that go with committing to a certain college. I was able to tell Ty I was proud of him...again. And I wasn't the only one. There were other teachers there, his family, coaches and a bunch of his fellow teammates. Ty had garnered a slew of support over the years. The best compliment of the day came from his football coach when he explained to everyone the progression of Ty. He came in struggling but became a leader. He became the type of player a coach wants. No one outworked him, he helped the younger guys and he got his stuff together (grade-wise).

The reason I am telling this story is because it is not about me. The reality, it is about all of us who are in careers where sometimes it seems like endless cycle of disappointment or frustration. We have all been there. It is a reminder like the one I experienced recently that reminds me why I do what I do.

Here is to your journey as well. Look for those stories that help make sense of your crazy world. The stories are there, sometimes you have to be patient.