Finding Your People #IMMOOC week 2

This year I am teaching a first/second multiage classroom. This is a new challenge for me and while incredibly exciting, it is also incredibly time consuming. All this to say, I missed the last weekend IMMOOC and then on Monday morning, Molly came in raving about it and I realized I had majorly missed out. Well not this week, I woke up and tuned in to watch Shawn Clark and Brady Venables discuss how they are creating innovation in their own district in South Carolina. I was so impressed to see two district leaders talking about how they are still pushing and challenging each other to be in classrooms and teaching even though they no longer have classrooms of their own. Their conversation got me thinking about my own teaching experience through the innovator’s mindset lens George Couros talks about. This is my tenth year teaching and my fifth year at my current school. One aspect of my teaching that I am proud of developing is a comfort with risk taking and this has happened because there is someone right next door to me willing to do the exact same thing.

Molly and I connected instantly when I was hired, I think at the time because we both taught math in a similar workshop manner. However, what I quickly found in Molly was someone who was willing to listen, push and take risks right along side me. And this connection has allowed me to feel comfortable with taking risks and the failure that may sometimes occur. Simply put in Molly, I have found my people. And watching Shawn and Brady this morning, I realized the power and the need for all teachers to find their people. When you find a person that pushes you, encourages you and reflects with you, your teaching becomes so much more powerful. Part of having an innovator’s mindset,  in my opinion, is finding your people without a person who is walking down that same path with you, you are way less likely to take risks, to know failure really isn’t failure if you reflect and learn from your experience. I know that there is no way I would have been able to develop a true Innovator’s Mindset without Molly. So my challenge to everyone reading is to find that person or people. If not at your school, in your district or maybe through a twitter PLN. When we find people we truly connect with, we grow so much more in our teaching and our students and our school community benefits.

Real World Learning #IMMOOC

It’s incredible that I have the opportunity to come home from work and dive into professional development while I go on a much needed walk.  I am joining thousands of other educators in George Couros’s Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Course.  And already, week # 1 my head is spinning.  But I have to begin somewhere and I have a confession about something I consider really important in my practice as a 1st grade teacher.  I am teaching 6 and 7 year old children how to use social media.   Whew!  I said it.  Those of you who read this blog know that both Alicia and I are passionate about preparing our youngest learners for the real world.   And as I listened to Couros talk about his own experience with people (I’m assuming some of whom were parents, teachers and administrators) telling him that we need to prepare people for the real world, my  brain immediately started thinking about the conversations I’ve had  when I tell people how much my students are learning from twitter.  Usually it sounds like, “Really?”  And then, “In first grade?” And as I get ready to tell them why it’s so important, they have already moved on  and truly aren’t that interested in my purpose.  But I know, first hand, that it’s only just 4 to 5 years from now that most of my students will be given a phone or other digital device and will be sharing  ideas, thoughts, pictures, video’s and more  on social media.  Jut like my own kids did.  So when and with whom does this learning start?

I have two children, both are teenagers.  My daughter is now a sophomore in college and is studying communications.  She called me up last week and told me that she was was working on a project that was going to showcase how I’m educating students how to use this powerful tool.   Yes, I’m a proud mom and I smiled when she said “It’s so important mom, my generation was just thrown into it, we had no idea what we were doing.”  No idea. Just one of the reasons why I think it’s our duty to begin teaching students how to interact online.   And I do believe that this education starts early, at home and in school.    In my classroom it takes just minutes a day to look at our twitter feed. (Usually during snack time)  And then later we will decide what we want to share.  You can follow  my class at @MsMecksClass but just know that we’re getting started a little late this year because the district blocked twitter from my teacher computer- again.  It’s something I have to spend  a few frustrating days- every year- trying to fix.  I explain to a nameless person downtown why I want to use social media and then eventually they decide I can until the next time they block it for reasons unknown. Apparently they don’t see how this applies to the “real world” of education.   But I do and in a couple of weeks my class twitterers will be composing tweets about our day.  I, of course,  will be checking their work before sending it out to the world.  That’s my job, to scaffold this important learning, and hopefully by the time they get those phones they will know what they can and cannot share online.