Third Monday of 2018: I Will Encourage

At this time of year, we often experience higher levels of motivation, drive, even optimism than we will… say…right before spring break during the long month of March. Heck, I don’t even have a spring break to look forward to; although, I’m playing with the idea of taking vacation time and doing something with my daughter who will be in her last semester of high school this time next year. With that looking ahead mentality, I was thinking about this week’s #ICEindiana edtech resolution.

Who and/or what do I want to encourage in 2018? There are many combinations that make the list:

  • I want to encourage parents to be more engaged in their children’s digital footprint management and development.
  • I want to encourage my daughter to be more aware of how she is using her time online. When the fall of 2019 comes around, she won’t have mom and dad passing by and asking what she’s doing on her phone or Chromebook. She will need to have developed that internal voice for herself. Heck, her parents are still working on that internal voice!
  • I want to encourage district leaders to establish how they will specifically measure the success of technology integration in their schools. We cannot get better at what we are doing if we do not have solid evidence to evaluate or a clear goal to strive toward.
  • I want to encourage coaches to model responsible use by sharing privacy and data security evaluations of edtech tools before introducing them to teachers for use in the classroom.
  • I want to encourage classroom teachers to share their frustrations. If they feel like they are the only one striving to create a culture of digital responsibility and leadership among their students, then something is wrong.

As I look at this list, I begin to feel just a bit overwhelmed.  So I am going to take a play out of When, Daniel Pink’s newest book. He wraps up each of the chapters with a “Time Hacker’s Handbook.” Ultimately, I will encourage myself and those I support to try applying a premortem to projects they take on in 2018. The premortem is explained following chapter 3 and allows the project members to assume they failed at completing the project down the road (you know, kind of like we do with resolutions year after year).

To conduct a premortem, you ask yourself or the team, “What went wrong?” Taking the time to talk through “prospective hindsight,” you can identify potential issues and avoid setting yourself up for a false start. Pink says it better, so I encourage you to check out When.  Drats, there I go encouraging again!

One week into 2018: I Will Share

Last night, I turned on the Golden Globes just in time to catch the presentation of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. More importantly, I was tuned in for Oprah’s acceptance speech.  I’ve had an on and off again relationship with Oprah over the years, but last night I couldn’t applaud her enough for two particular messages. The first was how she uncovered hope where there might otherwise be despair. And the second was how inclusive she was in her closing notes. I know, thanks to social media, that I wasn’t the only one affected by her words last night. But that’s the thing about Oprah…it’s not just words.

Regardless of your personal feelings about Oprah, the talent or the potential politician if you believe Twitter, there is no denying she has used the power of her position to affect change. Her talk show first aired during my senior year. I would race home to watch it on days I didn’t have something after school. Even then I recognized among the many stories being shared, that Oprah was committed to breaking cycles of abuse.

So today, as I thought about what my edtech resolution “I will share…” would be, I began to play with the idea of sharing the secret things. The things we don’t typically want to talk about because it makes others uncomfortable. The things that cause us to want to close our eyes or look the other way. The things people keep to themselves because they don’t want to be judged. I can share those secrets. I can help lighten the burden.

I thoroughly enjoy when I get to have Oprah moments in trainings. You know those times when the presenter shouts,  “You get a new tool…you get a new tool…and YOU get a new tool!” But there is that other side of Oprah. The side that listens to the horror stories, that refrains from judging, that invites you to share your secret and get the support you need so that you can have a brighter tomorrow.  In 2018, I resolve to be better at being that side of Oprah.

Starting off a New Year: I Will Try

As part of my work responsibility, I serve on the Indiana Connected Educator (ICE) board as the Indiana Department of Education representative. Both of my directors had served in this capacity prior to my taking the seat in 2012. The ICE organization has accomplished a great deal in the last five years including realigning itself to meet the needs of every classroom teacher (rather than just computer educators as it was formerly branded).

ICE also committed to supporting the edtech coach role, which was emerging when I joined the organization in 2009 as a new elearning coach. We recognized the shift from technology integration specialists, which were in place for the last two decades (and longer in some districts), to embedded professional development providers focused on coaching. Historically, integration specialists filled the role of tech support and trainer-essential elements of creating successful technology initiatives in schools, but not intended to shift pedagogy. Bridging that transition forced important discussions around the role and responsibilities of coaches.

We know that technology in schools needs to be like oxygen as Chris Lehman, principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, stated in his 2011 closing keynote for ISTE (of which ICE is an affiliate organization).  In order to reach the state where technology use is ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible, requires pedagogical and cultural shifts. This is the work ICE engages in.

It is exciting to see long terms goals we established in my first year on the board begin to take fruition. The 2018 conference theme is Voices and the organization is launching the new year with a social media campaign encouraging educators to share their edtech resolutions with the hashtag #ICEindiana. I encourage you share to share your voice. You can blog along with me each Monday in January, or simply tweet out your resolution.

This year, I will try to be consistent in my concrete reflections around the work I do on behalf of the ICE organization, in service to Indiana’s educators and learners, and in my personal commitment to digital citizenship and leadership. Years ago, I started an INeLearn Blogger community of Google+.  It’s been nearly two years since we’ve been active. It was through that community that I got to know and respect principal Brian Knight. He blogs at Leading and Learning.  Several great educators are in that community. We recently had requests for new membership, which I hesitated to accept. I thought perhaps I should close the community, that the time of its death had come. After all, all communities of practice die-a theory from Wenger, White, and Smith that completely unsettled me in grad school, but that I’ve come to realize is true. Instead I accepted the requests. Part of me wonders how they found us. I will TRY refreshing the community as part of my commitment to being better at blogging. I look forward to seeing who, if anyone, steps up as stewards of the learning and sharing.