Sunday, March 8, 2015

Connecting In New Orleans: A City of Hope

What an amazing, exhausting and inspiring 4 days I just had with other America Achieves Fellows in New Orleans.  This was my first time to New Orleans and I was struck at how friendly people were and also at how the city is so full of hope and promise.  While walking through the streets I noticed lots of reminders of the scars of Hurricane Katrina, but also at how this city seems to have come together to rebuild and create places where everyone can call home.

As a fellow I am reminded about how #grateful I am to be part of such a dedicated and inspiring group of educators.  Collectively we have the ability to not only be brilliant, but make some changes in our everyday practice as well as inspire each other on our own journey.

My life's work is what I do each day.  I am grateful for the families and their children that I get to see daily as well as engage alongside them in our learning journey.  My passion is learning, but also engaging families, students and communities.  I feel strongly about being transparent and explicit in the way I offer invitations to engage and share.  This morning I had an opportunity to share.  As a fellow I was very honored to be invited to share how I engage families and students with digital tools.

Engagement needs to be present daily.  This happens through our face to face interactions as well as our presence online.  This is very important when you begin to think about using digital tools for engagement. Engagement does not mean increased screen time, but rather a way for you, your students and their families to learn alongside each other.  This morning while I was sharing and presenting my work, it was clear that this is work that needs to be shared globally.  Everyone can engage students and families.  The best way to begin is to think about the why, how and what.  This idea is not mine, but was shared with me in a science presentation (exceptional!) by 2 fellows on Saturday.  This work comes from Simon Sinek. So after hearing these ideas from 2 of my fellows yesterday I was able to think about how these ideas would mesh with the use of digital tools for engagement.  1. Why? Why do you want to engage? Why is it important?  2. How will you engage and how will you know that you have engagement? 3. What are the tools you will use to help you?

These are the things that I think deeply about before I decide on a platform to use.  My most important goal is always the idea of having conversations.  Conversations are important because they give you and your audience opportunities to connect and engage.  I try to think of  synchronous and asynchronous tools that can help enrich conversations inside and outside of my classroom.  As educators we have lots of opportunities to develop a rich, interactive culture.  Digital tools only help make this happen.

I believe that everyone can learn.  Technology gives everyone a voice.  This is a mind shift and a different way of thinking about how we create and design learning opportunities and the impact it has not only on our learning culture, but the impact for engagement.

The founder, Jon Schnur of America Achieves shared with us throughout the weekend about the importance of building connections and sharing our passions.  I am grateful for leadership like John's where I am encouraged and supported to share my voice.  My voice is my work, my story, my perspective.  When we share, we are able to have our thinking challenged as well as be inspired by others.  I look forward to continuing on my journey.  I have many things to be grateful for.  America Achieves is one of those things.  Through our collective voices and ability to reach out and connect we have the ability to make a difference for many globally.

#grateful and exhausted.......  Thanks so much for this opportunity.

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