This past week I had the opportunity to work with twenty-eight education leaders around social media, sharing our stories as educators and managing communication effectively. This was a new experience for me, leading discussions around this work…but to say I was leading the conversations and learning would be misleading. I was learning right alongside everyone in the room! I can’t completely describe the power of hearing the stories of all these different schools, communities, leaders and educators. I had the chance to see people discover the power of the “little” moments that we experience everyday and how important it is to celebrate those. Or seeing someone realize that they do have a powerful story to share…amazing. This was a highlight of my summer and now I have a whole new group of people to add to my PLN, to learn from and to continue to connect and amaze! Please follow these amazing folks on Twitter:
During a recent podcast I was able to visit with our Agency of Education and some of our local education leaders about Personalized Learning Plans. It was interesting to investigate and think about from an elementary perspective as most of the action of implementation is happening at the middle and high school level. While I was discussing and looking at the whole picture I was considering what work we can do at an elementary level to prepare for and support this work for our students, families and colleagues.
I don’t know why it occurred to me that I should try a five day vlogging challenge the last week of school, but it did…so I did. My goals were simple…just try vlogging and see what I experience…share my experience overall at the end of five days. That’s it. I have other reasons which I mention in the videos, but here are some:
- Accountability and transparency – The more effort I make around transparency and communication the more I see the extreme benefits. There’s no doubt that people can’t support what they don’t know.
- Credibility – We are all asking our educators to take risks, innovate…take leaps…but are we doing that ourselves? Are we modeling the use of new technologies…the open communication that we want to see from our educators?
- Reflection – As with other things like podcasts, classroom videos, etc. I wanted to see if I could catalog and reflect on my own experiences through a vlog
So what did I learn about vlogging that I didn’t know or suspect before?
- It’s not as time consuming as I thought…let me explain. Once you get in the habit(s) of vlogging you can collect video pretty easily along the way. There are actually some great apps that make it easy to do from your phone, or if you are obsessive about video editing as I am, you can save clips for processing at the end of the day.
- Just like everything else it’s more powerful if it’s a part of the work you are already doing. I take a lot of pictures, video and audio during the school day. Weaving vlogging in with that makes it a more cohesive story and something I can reflect upon.
- It’s just another way of telling our story! Casey Neistat had a great vlog about vlogging and what I got from that more than anything was making sure that you are centering in on a story. I think my first couple of attempts were just video journals of the day…that’s great if that’s your purpose, but storytelling is powerful when done this way…so moving forward that’s a big shift I would incorporate…picking one story for the day to center the vlog on and go from there.
- If you are using your phone for vlogging turn off your bluetooth connections…trust me…it gets weird quick.
- Be prepared for strange looks…it’s just part of it. But once you tell people what you are doing you’ll find that they are amazingly supportive and interested.
- I would keep it all in my work day. The first couple vlogs I tried to include some home stories too…and that’s fun and great, and I really see value in bridging home life and school life, but it goes back to the purpose and telling the story and connecting with other leaders, educators and community.
I think this is a great challenge for any educator, but particularly school leaders…five days…give it a try.
At the beginning of the school year I set a relatively simple goal of trying to podcast. My hope was to really start sharing experiences with everyone in our learning community…beyond a great blog post…put people in connection with what’s going on in the classrooms and beyond. That was it…nothing more. I started small…recording very simple episodes on my iPad with no real end game in mind…just messing about. As the year progressed I found myself becoming more invested not only in the act of podcasting, but in the topics they included. I paid more attention to details that I hadn’t before as I was visiting classrooms, I shared experiences with teachers and parents as I recorded them. From these moments extremely reflective and open conversations came about. Some teachers even shared that they learned more from podcasting with me than they sometimes did in a traditional supervision-evaluation experience. To say that podcasting was an incredible goal and incredible experience is an understatement. It took me further than I ever anticipated…and I feel like I’m just starting out.
Final podcast of the year…a nice round 30 would have been great…but….
I recently had the opportunity to visit Brewster Pierce Memorial School’s All-School meeting. This weekly gathering is largely lead by the students and was truly powerful to experience. I’m very appreciative of the chance to visit and learned a lot about how valuable it is to provide students with not only a strong sense of community but also opportunities to lead and gain confidence in front of peers and adults. Seeing students at ease leading the joke of the day or explaining the activity to the audience reminded me of needing to make sure to provide opportunities for students to practice these experiences in supportive environments. Pretty amazing to see and experience.
Last week I had the amazing opportunity to visit Underhill Central School to see a model that they call Integrated Arts time. During this time three unified arts teachers provide learning opportunities for scholars over an extended block of time. Designed around a specific theme students are able to rotate through stations or work together in a larger collaborative model of learning. All the while this is happening, classroom teachers and educators are meeting as teams to explore data, learning goals and educational strategies. Schools are constantly looking for ways to create time for educators to meet, learn and grow all without impacting student learning in a negative way. These folks have found one of those ways that works within their structure and schedule. It was amazing to visit and gave me an opportunity to think about things like Master Schedule and learning in a different way.
Every once in a while (actually quite often) I have to choose between school commitments and family commitments. It’s not my favorite decision to make, but in this case it was pretty easy. Today was move up day at our school while my oldest had a concert and my youngest had an end of Kindergarten celebration…all at the same time. While I was sad to miss move up day I try hard to find that balance and felt really good about trying to get to both my daughters’ events. My wife headed to the concert while I had the chance to hang out in Kindergarten with Annie…and it was good. Almost made it to the concert, but…