Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Life is Good

It is the end of the semester. 

I am stressed out.

I am working on wrapping up my own graduate work for this semester, and at the same time I am trying to dig my way out from a pile of marking that I've been putting off. I am finished visiting student teachers for this spring, but I still have to check portfolios and write letters, and make sure their mentor teachers submit all the required paperwork. Exams are next week, which will bring more marking. I'm not in a panic...yet. 

But I'm stressed out.

Ah, but then...

Chapel this morning was such a great time of worship. I've missed chapel too often this semester--often because I've been away visiting student teachers or trying to get caught up on other work. But I've missed out by not being there: it's a great time to pause and reflect, to reset, to get re-centered. 

I left chapel refreshed. Still a general sense of stress behind me, but feeling more able to deal with it.

While I was home for lunch today, I took the dog out for a walk. Sunshine, light breeze, not a cloud to be seen. Buds on the trees.

Spring has sprung.

Yes, I'm still feeling stressed, but I know I can do this.

Life is good.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Yellow Submarine Moments: Stop Worrying So Much About What Other People Think

I recently introduced my kiddos to the Beatles. I am a little ashamed that it took me this long.

I had their compilation album 1 on in the car the other day, and my daughter asked me what band this was.

[OH. MY. I haven't introduced them to the Beatles? I am neglecting my duty as a parent to make sure my kids know good music, and a little history of rock and roll!]

So we listened...

"Love Me Do" ("Is this a love song? It's weird...")

"She Loves You" ("Another love song?")

"I Want to Hold Your Hand" ("These guys sing a lot of love songs, don't they?")

"Help!" ("I like this one, Dad!")

"Yesterday" ("He sounds kind of sad.")

"Day Tripper" ("That is my favorite guitar part ever!")

And then...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Twitter: I Think I Figured It Out

Back in the spring of 2009, I was serving as Technology Coordinator for a K-8 private school. That job was daunting, and required me to wear several different hats:
  • I taught "Computers" as a subject for grades 5-8. Keyboarding skills, digital citizenship, research skills, word processing, spreadsheets, multimedia tools, and general computer literacy were all included as parts of the curriculum.
  • I was "the guy" for any and all tech support. I used to say, "If it plugs in, it's my problem." And that is sort of the way it day I came to work and someone had left a boombox on my desk with a note: "This CD player doesn't work." So...yeah...
  • I was supposed to be a sort of technology integration coach for my colleagues. I think this part was probably the aspect I was most passionate about, but also the part I was least likely to be able to do, with the first two on my plate. But this meant I tried to become familiar with as many different technologies as I could, so when people came asking questions, I would have answers.
It was in this way that I first joined Twitter in the spring of 2009; I had heard of Twitter before that, and I had read an article in Wired magazine (yep, I'm that geek...) about the way people were connecting with Twitter. And I had a few friends on Facebook who were talking about how much they liked Twitter.

So I joined up.

It's funny reading those first tweets. Like this one, that showed up in my Timehop today:

If you read this blog with any degree of regularity, you will know the value I place on Twitter as an essential part of my personal learning network (PLN). But it took me awhile...

It took me a while to start connecting with other educators, but once I found a couple to follow, that got me more invested in learning through Twitter.

It took me a while to start using hashtags, but once I learned that dozens (or hundreds!) of teachers connect and have discussions--chats--on Twitter, and that hashtags organize these conversations, that got me more invested in interacting through Twitter.

It took me a while to start sharing things myself on Twitter--I first mostly lurked and enjoyed what other people were sharing, learning from them--but once I learned that people responded with thanks to the things I tweeted and retweeted, that got me more invested in pushing my ideas through Twitter.

I think I figured out how to make Twitter work for me, as a tool for my own learning.

I am finding that different teacher-tweeters actually use Twitter in very different ways.
  • Some use Twitter as a way of capturing ideas and resources.
  • Some use Twitter as a way of collaborating other educational professionals.
  • Some use Twitter as a way of connecting with others they would never have the opportunity to reach otherwise.
  • Some use Twitter as a way of pushing back against the groupthink of current school culture, whether at a local, state, national, or international level.
  • Some use Twitter as a way of promoting themselves.
  • Some use Twitter as a way of sharing ideas and resources they are personally passionate about.
If I'm honest, I have used Twitter in all of these ways over the past six years.

If you are an educator not on Twitter and reading this--because it was shared with you via email or Facebook or printed out and left on the staffroom table--I encourage you to just dip your toe in the water at least.

Join Twitter, and approach it with a growth mindset. Find a colleague who is on Twitter and learn from her/him. Follow a few interesting educators. Eavesdrop on a chat (follow the hashtag), and don't be afraid to get in there with a tweet or two of your own.

You never know who you might be able to learn from, and what you might be able to learn!

Friday, April 10, 2015

About Mystery: Getting "Lost" in the Classroom

Lost was my very favorite television show. When it began in the fall of 2004, I had no idea how wrapped up I would become in the puzzles, the characters, the mysteries that were all part of that show.

Lost had a great team of writers, a fantastic cast of actors, and all sorts of crazy connections to history, mathematics, religion, science, geography, literature, music, philosophy, and pop culture.

It was science fiction...but not really.

It was fantasy...but not really.

It was great stories about intriguing people who were stuck together in a bizarre location that only got stranger as you learned more about it, and yet it began to make more and more sense as well.

I recently started re-watching the series on Netflix while I'm on the treadmill in the morning. I was again riveted by the pilot episode...

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Today in my science methods class, I had students extracting DNA from strawberries. It's a fun lab, and I deliberately use materials they can easily get their hands on--things from the grocery store or Walmart--to help make science more accessible, for them, and for their future students. After class, I was picking things up, washing out a few stray plastic tubs and putting away the rubbing alcohol and dish detergent. I was putting away a package of bamboo skewers when it happened...