When I made a commitment to this challenge on Sunday night I was anticipating a time when I would feel stressed out because I wouldn’t be able to do what I needed to do. Actually, it is quite the opposite. Tomorrow at four I am going to get my laptop back and am not sure if I will bring it home over the weekend. The calming feeling that I have had this week is refreshing and has helped me be more productive during the work day. Today I posted PDFs and docs that I had in my email to Google Classroom, made a screencast of a presentation that I was sharing with some colleagues and emailed it to them, responded to multiple emails, worked with a classroom of students, and many other tasks without feeling like I was missing something or something was wrong with this picture. This is significantly not what I had anticipated.
My biggest surprise was how much I have enjoyed Notability. It has allowed me to keep a notebook, to-do list, library, and so much more in one place. My favorite way to use it is like a blank notebook where I can write notes when I am in a meeting, add tasks to my to do list, and write my reflections to a reading. This is where I have kept my observation notes around this experience. It has kept me so much more organized than I was planning on.
Tomorrow I will write a conclusion post of the big ideas I learned this week. I am excited to share what I learned from this process and my plans moving forward.
Today I was able to spend time in my favorite part of my work, in classrooms with students. Observing the way they interact with each other and their work using devices and other tools (paper, pencil, etc.) is amazing. I learn so much when I am with them. In one classroom I noticed how much students were flexible in their thinking and troubleshooting about what the needed to do to access and present their thinking and understanding. We can learn so much from them. Their mindset tends to focus on “How might I figure this out?” rather than “Who can fix this for me?” They are empowered to see themselves as problem solvers. That self-monitoring skill will take them a long way. It is powerful!
This was the first day I had to go get a laptop from the cart. I wanted to edit a Google form that I needed to send out to staff. It was frustrating to go get the laptop, but I was able to get the task completed in thirty minutes. I put it back in the cart and was on my way back to my workflows on my iPad. I had to repeat the process when I needed to import some Google slides in a presentation for tomorrow. I used it for that, but found myself going right back to my iPad. It was interesting. As I went through this process I kept thinking about how students can move from tool to tool based on task with small amounts of transition. I was also wondering how we can make sure that the transition for students and teachers has as little of distraction from the learning as possible. Lots to reflect on.
At the tail end of the day I received an email requesting some documents. I knew exactly where they were on my laptop, of course, but I also knew I emailed them out in August. That brought me to find them in my email on my iPad and save the documents in Google Drive so I could email the links to the staff member. It went really quickly and then I had them all organized in Google Drive. It was a workaround that actually set me up to more easily get the documents in the future. How interesting that this disruption in my thinking can improve things moving forward?
What I am continually fascinated by in this process is the calming feeling that I experiencing each day. My shoulders and back are not as tense and I have slept better. I am wondering why. That is what I want to continue to grow understanding around.
More to learn tomorrow!
Tonight I continue to find this sense of calm as I come home. I was not anticipating the absence of my laptop to take away some of my stress. My shoulders don’t seem as tense and the shoulder pain I have had for a month is now gone completely. I thought it was the the weight of the backpack, but now I am convinced. Do I really need to carry that laptop wherever I go? That is a question to continue to reflect on.
Today started with me problem solving the projector situation. The easy answer…go get my laptop. Did I go there? No. I did some troubleshooting and in 20 minutes I hooked the projector up to the computer in the room and with the help of a colleague I had speakers for the video we were going to view. I only tripped on the cords once during the day, so I consider that a successful day.
Where I did find a challenge was when I wanted to print table tents. I tried to do it on the computer in the room I was training in, but was unsuccessful. I reflected and thought, “Do I really need to have printed copies or could I just write them out?” In less time than it takes to start up my laptop, I had the table tents made and on the tables. A marker and card stock were more effiecent, so I decided to go with it. I think sometimes we try too hard for it to look perfect than just communicating the information. Pick the tool that is most effective for the task.
One of the things I am most surprised about is how easy it is to find workarounds when I think there may be a stumbling block. For example, I had some assignments that were in drafts in Google Classroom that I needed to post today. When I went to the Google Classroom app it did not show them. To troubleshoot I went to Safari and logged into Google Classroom where I said No, thanks to going to the App Store and used the web browser version of Google Classroom. I could see all my drafts and posted all of the assignments and resources right from my device. Flexible thinking is critical in this world where everything is constantly evolving. Our mindset is more of the stumbling block than the technology. It is a human endeavor that we have within ourselves to grow and develop.
Let the learning continue!
As I sit here to reflect on this first day of working within the atmosphere we are expecting out of our students I am surprisingly calm, which is a feeling that I enjoy. Today was a busy day with two three-hour professional development sessions with working with a classroom in between the two sessions. I ended with a two hour meeting.
Where I was working for most of the day there was a computer that was hooked up to the projector which we used to present information using Google Apps for Education. This allowed me to work using my iPad mini throughout the day for all of my tasks. I was able to demonstrate with teachers, use Google Classroom, and access any information I needed. It was refreshing to not be bogged down with my laptop. As the day went on we were noticing the projector is fading and I am in there tomorrow to work with more staff. I am concerned that we may need to use a back up projector until the one that is ordered arrives. The question I have is can we hook up the computer in the room like we had it today or if we need to use a different computer? I am thinking through what that may look like so I still have AirServer available. I will write about it tomorrow.
During the late afternoon meeting I needed to share a Google Doc that we wanted everyone to have editing rights to. I quickly made a short link using Google url shortener and wrote it one the dry erase board. Everyone was able to quickly access it. What I found interesting as I reflect is that I would have totally gone to my laptop first because that is where I am comfortable to create those short links. The disruption has shown me that comfort is not always where the most efficient workflows are. That was new learning for me.
Another opportunity that this has brought me is to appreciate the Today option in the Mail function on an iPad. I was able to quickly see the emails I received today and address what I could quickly and come back to them when I can. I highly recommend checking it out. Go to Mail and make sure you are able to see your Mailboxes. Tap on Edit and there you can choose Today as an option to see when you go into Mail. It is worth having that as an option.
I am looking forward to tomorrow and see what new learning comes my way.
One of my favorite books of all time is Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley. One of the reasons I love this book is the focus on empathy. They discuss the importance of looking at your work through the eyes of those you serve (in their case, the customers using your product). This has inspired me to challenge myself to live my work life with the same level of access as students in our 1:1 classrooms.
For this week I am going to do my daily work using the same level of access as the students have at school and at home. This means that I am going to have my iPad mini as my primary device with access to Chromebooks, desktops, or laptops that are in the buildings when needed, and my family home computer. I am giving up my laptop to a colleague this week. My goal is to see the challenges and opportunities when living in the same world as the students are living in. I will also have my personal headphones, a stylus, and my smartphone which is similar to what our students carry with them during the school day. I will reflect daily using my blog and write a final reflection at the end of the week. I am excited to see what I learn.
“The basement is full of water.”
That was what my mom said this morning about the cabin. What we saw as a relaxing day at the cabin took an unexpected turn and we loaded up our two Shop Vacs and made our way to our family. When we arrived I was reminded why I love my family. One of my brother-in-laws was in the process of replacing the broken sump pump in the basement, four of us were using Shop Vacs to soak up as much water as possible, one of my sisters was calling to find industrial fans to dry everything out, my kids were entertaining the younger cousins, one sister was getting groceries, and my parents were helping wherever needed. It was a team effort and within a few hours we had moved from a soaked basement to one that was gradually drying out and coming back to the basement we had watched the grandkids play in. It was truly remarkable.
As I was Shop Vacuuming water I was thinking about how we never had a family plan about what to do if the basement gets water, but somehow we managed to come together without hesitation to take care of the situation in a remarkably short period of time. Why? Why is it that we can come together in a time of distress?
Trust. We trust each other that in the face of adversity we will come together, no matter what.
As we start this school year I am wondering…are we creating teams to be ready for everything or ready for anything? Are we spending our time trying to think of everything that could possibly go wrong and making a plan, or are we using the time to build trust within the team so when something arises we come together to move forward? Which will benefit those that we serve?
It has been two weeks since I attended BLC15, but I find myself reflecting on so many things that I learned in my time there. The impact it has had is really remarkable. I find myself talking about things I learned in conversations that I have with teachers, administrators, and community. Everyone that was there was impactful to me on my learning journey. Thank you!
Today I am thinking a lot about something Blake Copeland said in his keynote on the second day of the conference. He encouraged us to spend less time teaching and spend that time inspiring students to want to learn. As a student (yes, he was a student doing a keynote and it was fantastic), he explained that by inspiring others to want to learn that students will learn beyond what you have taught and that motivation to learn more will last beyond your class. What was interesting is that David Malan (Harvard professor) stated the same thing when Alan November asked him when did he know that he was a good teacher. He stated that it is when his students learn beyond what he has taught. Two different perspectives with the same line of thinking.
Does this mean you just get out of the way and let them do whatever they want? No. What it means is that you provide space and guidance to construct meaning and find their way to deeper understanding. For me this means that my role becomes that of a listener where I notice and name where they are at in their learning journey. From there I ask guiding questions and then give needed and targeted instruction along with feedback. It is an ongoing process with really no ending point because the learning never ends. I find myself spending less time planning and more time thinking about each of the people I work with and how I can support them to continue growing. It is hard to describe because it is so different for each person I work with and each group that I am in. Plus, I am learning along the way as well. I model being a learner with the learner.
The biggest thing that I find when I embrace this idea of less time teaching, more time inspiring to want to learn is that the building of relationships is at the heart of the matter. Learning is a social process and human endeavor. The natural learning process is not done in isolation, but with others. It doesn’t have a ceiling or a specific path, but questions, struggles with information, and reflections along the way. We have people together in schools, so let’s use that gift for all that it is worth by giving the space, time, and inspiration to learn. Many times when I begin to work with a new group of people I will find myself saying when the conversation lends itself, “Everyone is on their own learning journey, I have the honor to be part of it.” That is a mindset that has helped me in so many ways. I will blog about that another time.
In these last two weeks I have had a number of different sessions and I keep finding myself reflecting on this idea. How much time do I spend teaching? How much time do I spend inspiring staff to want to learn more? Do I balance it in a way that embraces the learning journey? I know that I continue to learn as I reflect on each session I lead to see how I can get better at this idea. I will grow along with the learners that I work with. That is a gift that keeps on giving.