Reflect On Our Practice

“We are generating more information and knowledge than ever today, but knowledge is only good if you can reflect on it.”

Thomas L. Friedman, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations

I had the pleasure of being interviewed the other day by an educator pursuing an advanced degree in educational technology.

It was a pleasure because her interview questions made me reflect on my current practices, my past practices, and my reasons for each.

All great interviews should involve both parties walking away feeling like they have both contributed and learned something – whether it be for a job, or a research paper, or a podcast.

I share with you abbreviated forms of her questions so that you, too, can reflect on the work you do. And hey, if you want to share an answer, that’d be fabulous.

1. As part of my master’s program, I was asked to develop a professional development (PD) course around Universal Design for Learning.  This PD was designed for the learning to happen over several weeks.  However, in my current school district, PD days are booked at the beginning of the year, and there are many competing initiatives all promoted at the district level so that it becomes close to impossible to do any PD that extends beyond an hour because there is a need to provide PD for the wide range of initiatives.  Do you have similar issues in your district?  If so, how do you work to provide some long term, meaningful PD?

2. Currently, our district provides PD as a one size fits all approach.  I believe part of this strategy is for accountability. How do you help move the district to more differentiated learning for staff?  How do you get administrative buy in?

3. At one time, our 1:1 program encouraged parents to think of the Chromebook as a family tool.  Parents were encouraged to get their own email accounts and to log into their student’s device in order to look for jobs, pay bills and to work towards increasing their employable skills by becoming more proficient with technology.  However, concerns have prompted the tech department to lock down all devices so that they now may only be used with a district email address, thus taking the tech away from the parents. Can public schools close the digital access and equity divide for both students and families, or are 1:1 programs actually contributing to the divide?

4. As part of our master’s program, we have been encouraged to become familiar with UDL, OER, Copyright, Creative Commons and Internet Use Agreements.  How would you prioritize the importance of these in your daily work and why?  When looking for new members for your educational technology team, which of these would you consider to be most important for an applicant to have expertise with?

5. If you could suggest areas of focus for people entering the field of educational technology to have, what would you suggest?  Why?

Belonging to the Tribe

I wasn’t the most athletic kid growing up. Haha. Who am I fooling? I’m still not athletic. I tripped trying to run to first base because my legs were moving faster than my body. I fell playing kickball because my foot landed on top of the ball instead of kicking the ball. I sometimes run into walls. So you can probably imagine that I wasn’t the first one picked to be on a team. And even if I was (eventually) picked, I certainly wasn’t in the starting lineup!

So it really resonated with me when Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40, explained to my colleagues and I* why the employees at WD-40 consider themselves a tribe and not a team.

A team, Ridge explained, comes together for a purpose… usually a competitive one. There are top players, and benchwarmers, and people who didn’t get picked to be on the team at all. They practice together to meet their goal of beating the opponent. But when the game is over, they separate. They lead their own lives, independent of each other.

A tribe, however, is different. Tribes depend on the people within their unit for survival. Every member of the tribe has an important role based on their skills and talents. There are no benchwarmers in a tribe.

Tribes have other elements as well. They have values; they’re future-focused; they are warriors, when needed; and they place importance on celebrations. All of which are elements that contribute to a positive workplace culture.

And because the tribe is dependent on each other, the responsibility of the tribal leader is to be a learner and a teacher. Not only is the leader learning and gaining wisdom that will nurture and sustain the tribe, but s/he also must pass the wisdom down so that the tribe’s success continues without the leader.

The tribe is a much more intentional, and meaningful, connection than a team. People belong to a tribe. They have purpose within the tribe. They are protected by the tribe.

Seth Godin, in his book Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us, writes: “Caring is the key emotion at the center of the tribe. Tribe members care what happens, to their goals and to one another.”

Isn’t that, ultimately, at the core of what we want our classrooms and schools to be for our students?


*Before meeting Garry, I would have used the phrase “team” to describe my colleagues. But they are my tribe. As Seth Godin describes it: “Tribes are about faith—about belief in an idea and in a community. And they are grounded in respect and admiration…” Grateful to have found my tribe!

Learn more about the WD-40 tribe on their website.

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PSA: How to check your FB App Sharing Permissions

This may seem out of the norm for my usual posts, but as a former EdTech/IT Director, I think it’s important that you know how to limit what information you share with apps you have connected to your Facebook.

This Cambridge Analytica data fiasco should be a wake up call for all of us. Understand that this was not a BREACH. Data wasn’t hacked by a nefarious group. It was freely given by the “What Cat Are You?” type of quizzes you take on FB; by the agreements you hurriedly say yes to when registering on a new website; and on the security permissions you don’t often check on Facebook. We are all complicit in this situation.

But here’s how to start reducing that data share:

There are more Facebook settings that you will want to dig into as well,but this is a good starting place.

(And if you haven’t received the Cambridge message from FB yet, or already closed it, you can access your app settings under the FB Setting ms section.)

Featured photo used with attribution permission from:
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