Of Aqua Net and Apologies…. {Slice of Life}

Slice of Life logo
Source: http://bit.ly/1FcxMni

Recently, while hurrying through our teacher workroom before sunrise, a fellow teacher stopped me.

We worked together in Career & Technical Education a few years ago. She was a tech center instructor, while I served as an instructional coach, bringing pedagogy to CTE instructors.

Now, we both teach at the local high school.

“I owe you an apology,” she declared.

I quickly sifted through my not-yet-awake brain, but couldn’t think of a single reason. “No, I can’t imagine you do,” I answered.

“Oh, but I do,” she insisted.

Now she had my attention.

“Remember when you came out to XYZ  Tech (protecting the innocent) …  and tried to do training?”

I smiled, remembering in clear detail, the training sessions at her tech center. I listened. And kept smiling.

“Well….” she went on, apologetically, “…. we weren’t very nice to you.”

I was stunned.

Like angry waters pushing through a yielding floodgate, her words rushed through my head. “We were rude to you. We acted like snobs. We didn’t see how what you were teaching us had anything to do with us and our adult students at a tech center. We thought what you shared was for K-12 teachers, so we ignored you.”

Me {thinking}:   Never mind the tech center campus provides classes for adult and high school students, and effective learning strategies are effective learning strategies. Period.

I kept smiling, insisting that no, they weren’t rude.

Finally! I had answers to questions that bugged me back then (about four years ago)… Why did some of the participants write snarky, personal comments in their feedback?  Why was the mood so hostile?

I had never experienced such an uncomfortable training environment, one that required three training sessions over a few months and one that was in stark contrast to similar sessions happening at a fellow tech center campus, in which participants were collaborating on ways to build newly-learned strategies into their instruction, sharing how they’d tried strategies with their high school and adult students, and inviting me to visit their classes and see them in action. *Westside Tech, you were The Best to work with!! Thank you for your enthusiasm.  🙂

She pressed on….

“I had no idea what was in store for me ….. that a year later, I’d be here, teaching high school kids.  I struggle every day.”

After offering my colleague support in her current teaching assignment, we hugged as I shared, “Thank you. You helped me understand some things I wondered about for a while.”

As the first bell rang, teenagers pushed past us. We were caught up in the flood of feet heading to first period.

Aqua Net lingered on my clothing the rest of the day, reminding me that sometimes, an unexpected apology can put things in perspective….

I'm Sorry Sticky Note

Tell Us About Yourself: Sending an Introvert Into a Tailspin

Freaked out at the thought of having to introduce yourself to strangers?

 

Quiet Book Cover
Source: http://bit.ly/1wZT1oc

Several months ago I blogged about my BIG discovery {here}, after reading Susan Cain’s, Quiet: The Power of Introverts, last December.  What a great read!  In it, she discusses introverts in our society and society’s response to them.  She writes, “The bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness.”

 

 

 

You can see her TED Talk here:

If you’re an introvert, you know she’s singing the gospel… Now, if everyone would just get quiet and listen….!! Right?

What was particularly enlightening to me ~ other than discovering I’m really an introvert camouflaged in an extrovert’s body ~ (light bulb moment!) was to learn why my instructional style is so challenging for some of my students…. You know, the ones who are also introverts, but not masquerading as an extrovert.

These guys and gals take quiet and attentive (qualities a teacher appreciates) to a much higher level, often edging closer to a referral for what appears to be open defiance because they will refuse to participate than have to talk with peers (and/or me).  Yes, it happens!  Maybe you were one of those kids? Maybe you’re raising one?  If so, might be helpful to give your kiddos’ teachers a little insight.  *Not taught in teacher-school.

Turns out, my collaborative classroom approach overwhelms introverted kiddos ~ as probably happens in many classrooms (fellow teacher-types, take note from this slow learner!).  This was a HUGE a-ha! moment for me… during my 20th year in the classroom.  As I read her book, I found myself saying, “That explains a LOT!”

When I reflected on how some of my classes are markedly different from others, it occurred to me:

Those classes that require me to cajole students to talk to one another and/or me {and they still refuse} are the classes in which introverts rule.  They are silently in control! 

When classes resumed after winter vacation last January, I was ready! Armed with this epiphany, I greeted my 2nd period class and told them what I finally understood. Poor kids.  They were visibly relieved. It was as if you could hear them whispering, “Finally, she gets us! Took her long enough!”  😉

HUGE difference between first and second semesters, as I gave my students latitude in how they would interact with their peers (and me), balancing the need to teach effective collaboration skills with giving students a ‘comfortable, safe’ learning environment that worked for everyone.

Electronic communication turned out to be a helpful way to get introverted students to interact.  Much has been written about the interface, including this article for Time by Cain. I have seen it first-hand, having students who didn’t utter a word for an entire semester, become involved in peer and student/teacher discussions when they could interact behind the safety of a keyboard.  Win-win!

Things were much calmer for me, too.  It was nice to have one class a day in which the kids weren’t swinging from the rafters a quiet disposition was expected and appreciated by my students. I didn’t have to be ‘on stage’ to get my point across.  Now if I could just get my other classes to try out this calmer, more focused presence….  Bliss, it would be pure bliss.

I’m kidding. It would be boring as all get-out!

*Interesting side note:  My ‘introverted’ class has been period 2 for three years running. Entirely different groups of kids from year to year, yet it’s consistently 2nd period.  Wonder why?   I smell an action research project lurking in the shadows…. 

Fast-forward eleven months.

Last week, I read a blog post from doc-turned-author Carrie Rubin {here} about her own embarrassing moment with introversion, and her advice for those of us who develop trainings or meetings for others.  As a presenter/PD facilitator/instructional literacy coach, I hadn’t ever considered how introverts might feel in my sessions. But once again, it sure explained a LOT about some participants’ sudden trips to the restroom or to ‘take a call’ when introductions begin.

According to Carrie, introverts are terrified to hear “Tell us about yourself…”  Wow!  This was an eye-opener for me… but makes perfect sense.  Now, when I’m plan sessions, I’ll remember to give participants a heads-up with plenty of ‘think time’ ~ to collect their thoughts and plan their words. Thanks, Carrie!

How about you?

Introvert? Extrovert?

Incognito??

Raising one (or two, or three ….)???

Social Media: Are You Creating or Cringing?

Technology continues to advance.

Students’ learning continues to evolve with technology.

Social Media Icons
Source: http://www.edudemic.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/social-media-icons.png

 Is your instruction evolving, too?  

 What do you think when you read the phrase Social Media?  Does it spark your creativity or serve up a hefty helping of uncertainty?

Social media wasn’t what it is today when I was still in the classroom full-time.  We weren’t tweeting and updating our status by the millions…. yet.  I often think about how much fun it would have been to have all the social media tools when I was still working with high school students in the classroom every day.

Now, I try to incorporate social media  into training and coaching sessions, building communities of  learners online and  in  person, but before I knew much about it, I was a bit nervous about using social media…..

  • What about privacy?
  • How do I learn the technical stuff?
  • Who’s reading what I write?
  • How do you communicate with students?
  • How do you engage them?
  • What are other highly effective educators doing?
  • How do/could I use Social Media?

These are questions I often ask myself ~ to stay current and learn new things from like-minded colleagues.

I recently saw a tweet from @edudemic about social media, and of course, jumped over to read more.  I found not only a post about a new social media resource for teachers but also  a great site chock full of 411 for educators.   Score! 

 Are you creating or cringing? 

 You decide.  Then, check out this site [here] to add to your instructional toolbox.

Classroom 411: An Interactive Training Session Leads to New Ideas

Recently, a dedicated group of twenty educators and industry experts from Valencia Community College, Orange County Public Schools (Career and Technical Education), and Osceola County Public Schools (Career & Technical Education) met on a Saturday to participate in a lively staff development training session that explored ways to build “classroom community” regardless of the environment: live, online, or hybrid, and more importantly, why to do so.

With coffee in hand and preworkshop self-assessments completed, participants arrived for the four-hour session that promised discussion, interaction, and exploring ways to learn about themselves and their students ~ all in an effort to build nurturing, successful, effective learning experiences.

 

Though seasoned in their industry experience, and for most, in their scholarly experience as well, we all agreed that the demographics of our classrooms, whether in person or online, are changing rapidly, and in order to accommodate those changes, we need to better understand who our students are as learners as well as who we are as instructors (and learners) ~ how core personality characteristics, preferred learning styles, and cultural/generational elements affect learning (and teaching).

Through the True Colors and Generational Profiles models, we also discussed how these characteristics affect our relationships with family, friends, and coworkers.  Awareness and understanding of the influences lead to more effective communication at home and in our offices and schools.

Purposeful  thinking and engaged discussion  assisted  participants  in developing  a clearer understanding of  how  innate personality traits, brain-based  learning styles, and generational influences affect the learning environment, which led to  action plans that included tools for getting to know our students better, supporting them in getting to know themselves and each other better, and ways to tweak the learning experience to increase student (and instructor) success.

 A big “thanks” to everyone for their active and enthusiastic participation!  I enjoyed your insight, creativity, and professional dedication on an early Saturday morning.

THINK.  DISCUSS.  ACT.