Thursday, 21 August 2014

There is POWER in a VOICE.

I continuously promote a growth mindset to my students-take risks, learn from your mistakes and failure promotes resilience. You know when you are at a point in your career or life when you think, 'Why not?'  Last Saturday my goal was to initiate a #SatChatOc on Voxer group. I did ask myself, what if…it doesn’t work, what if… nobody joins, what if… it fails! Then I thought, what if it’s successful and I introduce a new learning platform to some Australian (and maybe even global) educators. I knew how much I had gained from being on #satchat Voxer. Why not share the learning?

Over the last year I have been inspired by @bradcurrie who continually challenges me. Yet he doesn’t even know it. When Brad first approached me to moderate #SatChatOc I responded with, “I’m sorry I don’t think I’m techy enough and it’s a bit out of my comfort zone”.  Next I knew, I was included in all the emails from the #satchat family. I have come to learn that I thrive when given a challenge or an opportunity to learn something new. But it also helps having someone believe in your ability. Brad created a Smore for #satchat, so I created one for #SatChatOc. Twitter has brought new life to my learning. I appreciate all the information shared on Twitter and the many educators in my PLN.

Over the last month, I have been fortunate to be part of the #satchat Voxer group. I listen to administrators and teachers (mainly USA) share their experiences, failures & triumphs. I listen intently to their stories and do not feel an urgency to respond, retweet or favour. Voxer allows me time to think and also provides the flexibility to learn in my own time. I listen to Voxer on my drive to and from work. It’s like having an audio book of people’s experiences and real life stories. The advice and experiences are always current and authentic and I listen attentively while thinking to myself. This creates some very deep reflecting.

On Saturday, I created a Google spreadsheet-something I’ve not done before. I direct messaged my friends for advice & feedback. @cybraryman1 was quick with his advice and the #SatChatOc on Voxer group soon began. Within three days we had quite a few members (from Twitter) and we’d covered numerous topics-trust, leadership, school culture and mentors. Listening to your own voice & analysing your presentation skills is another benefit of Voxer. I am attempting to decrease the number of 'ums' when I talk. The other benefit I see with Voxer is the ability to replay entries and speed up messages. 

This makes your learning flexible and autonomous yet supported and unrestricted. While I have felt connected to many of the educators in my PLN through Twitter, Voxer has created a deeper level of learning and my professional relationships with others has become stronger. Learning has become more personal. Daily, I am inspired by these people and enjoy being surrounded by passionate, enthusiastic and generous educators. Voxer has brought learning, reflecting and being connected to a whole new level. Twitter, like emails, do not convey emotions. Vocal inflection, gestures and sarcasm (an Aussie favourite) are at most times lost in a text or 140 characters. 

There is POWER in a VOICE.

Imagine the possibilities…

Voxer is a San Francisco based mobile app development company most well known for its free Voxer Walkie Talkie app for smartphones. Voxer Walkie Talkie is both a live "push-to-talk" system and a voice messaging system. Other features include the ability to send texts and pictures.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Give me quality over quantity every time!

I remind my students before they commence writing, 'Remember, I prefer quality to quantity'. Produce two pages of writing that incorporates many strategies - show don't tell, ellipses, internal thinking, onomatopoeia etc., instead of six pages of waffle. They have come to accept my expectations. Give me quality over quantity every time.

At times, students may compare themselves to each other and it's usually over quantity. Highest marks, grades, more ribbons, chosen as class captain. I encourage students not to compete against each other or even compare themselves to others. Aim for personal best in academics and sport. Where were you and where are you now? Let's embrace and acknowledge growth.

Our grading system does not highlight growth or progress. It shows a static moment in learning and we know learning is not static. A student who begins with large amount of knowledge may demonstrate little effort, resulting in insignificant improvement. Now compare that student to a student who showed limited knowledge but worked extremely hard and exhibited enormous growth. How do they end up with the same grade? Our reports should highlight progress. I find when you get swept up in a competitive situation, it creates some defensiveness and insecurity. Comparing yourself to others can be detrimental to your self-esteem and self-efficacy. While I accept some people require competition to achieve their best performance or results, I believe it is important to always run our own race. Again, let's embrace and acknowledge growth.

If you ask me about friends too, I would say I prefer a handful of friends who know and accept me as I am, than a large number of acquaintances who don't really know me at all. I'd rather people know me, than know about me. Give me quality friendships over numerous acquaintances any day.

On twitter, I am satisfied with a smaller number of followers with whom I connect and respect. Twitter, for me is not about the number of followers you ascertain. In my humble opinion, some may see followers as a badge of honor or an achievement. Personally, I see it as a pat on the back indicating that your efforts are appreciated. Usually, if you follow me, I don't automatically follow back because I want to connect first. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the pat on the back but I won't ask or seek people to follow me.

Our #SatChatOc team aims to connect and welcome all to the chat. We want to keep it personal and not be about the number of tweets per minute or our trending record. As long as educators are connecting, sharing, learning and feel like they belong, then we are happy. We do not seek guests to increase numbers but we kindly ask them to moderate because we believe Twitter enables great professional learning. If we can provide an inspirational educator to share their knowledge or generate a discussion, then we've achieved our goal. Our goal is to facilitate quality conversations. A friend once said that you should be acknowledged for the quality of your tweets, not the quantity of your tweets. This is a something I am working on.

Lately, I have learnt the benefits of really listening to others. By using Voxer, you listen to comments and while you can immediately converse with someone, this does not usually happen. The way Voxer works is you listen to comments or questions and you can respond in your own time. What I've notice is that I listen more attentively as I'm not preoccupied with my response. I give quality time to just listening. I need to develop these skills when having face to face discussions.

Students need to understand that popularity does not equal respect and that true value cannot be measured in a single, fleeting number or grade. I encourage students to be true to themselves, celebrate personal growth and remember that quality trumps quantity every time.

And the learning continues,