Striking Out is Good

My son Eli had a baseball tournament this past weekend. The kid loves baseball so much. He’s 9, yet he already has created this amazing capacity of baseball information for himself. It’s safe to say that Eli has a working knowledge of every team in Major League Baseball. His passion for playing baseball is evidentĀ because of not only how hard he practices, but also how hard he is on himself when he doesn’t perform as well as he thinks he should; particularly when he’s up to bat and strikes out.

One particular instance of this over the weekend really struck me. Eli was up to bat, and struck out. As he turned to return back to the dugout, Eli lowered his helmet down over his eyes as the tears started to flow. It’s not the first time that has happened so I did what any supportive dad would do in this situation and I ran out on the field and I scooped him up and hugged him. Just kidding, I didn’t really do that (but I wanted to). šŸ™‚

I did, however, make sure Eli could hear me and I told him he’s awesome and he’ll get it next time. What happened next though I wasn’t expecting:

Eli being consoled by his teammates.

I love everything about this picture. I mean, if you’re going to strike out, at least you have a great team that’s there for you even when you don’t perform like you thought you should. Would I have loved to see Eli blast that ball? Of course I would have. I like to thinkĀ in this instance Eli learned something that a home run wouldn’t have taught him. That’s my hope as I look at this picture over and over and smile.

Today is the last day of school for my kids. They had a great year; they loved their teachers, and they love their school. Ā So, naturally I had to think about how this all relates to education. šŸ™‚

WTF Moments

No, WTF doesn’t mean what you think it means. We need to have a Willingness To Fail. Our students need that transparency from us, teachers need that transparency from leadership, and it needs to be the norm. It needs to be accepted and embraced that failure is going to happen and not have it seen as an end point, but a jumping off point. Think of where it’s going to go from here rather than let it keep you from going anywhere at all.

Infectious Engagement

I think it’s safe to say we all want our students to be excited about going to school. My son loves school but he’s not as excited about it as he is about baseball. He certainly doesn’t get as upset about when he doesn’t perform well at school compared to striking out in a baseball game. I think if we want our students to be as excited/passionate about school as they are about things outside of school, they need to see us just as excited about learning. Our students need to know about that edcamp, Google Summit, or other learning experience that got us fired up. They need to know what you’re doing to be a better teacher and keep moving yourself forward because they’re the ultimate reason we’re doing it. It means creating a culture and practice of being infectious in our schools.

Teams Are Everything

Knowing you have a great team that is going to support you, success or not,Ā is a comfort that we need as professionals and our students need it in our classrooms too. The need for team support isn’t limited to athletics; students need to feel what good collaboration, team work, and camaraderie looks like and feels like as it relates to learning too. Again, students need to see this modeled at all levels in a district or school. We are always better together than we are apart.

Striking out isn’t always bad. It can give us some important reminders of how to be better learners and how to be better people.






Keep Connecting Those Dots

For a long time, my favorite part of my Twitter profile is the line “I connect dots”. What does that mean? For me, it’s the best thing about being connected to a PLN, and learning from loads of brilliant people any time I want. You will learn which people to go to for help or to learn more about specific topics. I’ve never claimed to know everything, and I don’t want to try. I’m also not afraid to tell someone “I don’t know” when someone asks me in person or onlineĀ about a topic I don’t have the answer to. However, I almost always make sure to follow that up with “But you should talk to _____.” or “I’m happy to help you find the answer.”. That’s what connecting dots is all about; if you can’t give them an answer, then get them to the person that can. Maybe this is a culture thing that teachers, leaders, and professional development providers need to embrace more; rather thanĀ seeingĀ it as a negative thing when we have to say “I don’t know”. Sometimes when we don’t know, it marks the start of a great learning experience.

The bottom line is getting teachers just what they need so they can give their students the learning experiences they need. Any new topic I’m learning about or whichever way I’m trying to advance myself professionally is about students at the end of the day. If it’s helping a teacher then it’s helping kids, which is why we all do what we do. We’re educators because we love to learn and we love making learning better for our students.Ā When we get some kind of special recognition for it is it nice?Ā Of course it is. It’s exciting and generally amazing to me that someone thought I was deserving. We all know that’s not why we’re in education though. I also know I’m going to keep connecting dots for others; virtual pats on the back or not.




Giving Students The World

Over the last few weeks in my district we have had The Google Expeditions Pioneer Program visit one of our middle schools and one of our elementary schools. I appreciate havingĀ one of our teachers and one of our library media specialists and their administrators invest the time to bring this experience to students. It’s still a really new program that Google is taking to various locations around the country to test it, as well as raise awareness about it. If you’re wondering, when they visit your school they bring everything necessary to give your students the Google Expeditions experience: about 30-60 Google Cardboard viewers, Android phones (and chargers), Nexus 9 tablets, and they even bring their wireless network. The entire experience is guided by the teacher using the Nexus 9 tablet. The teacher takes students on a virtual field trip with about 140 locations worldwide to choose from. The teachers push the expedition to the Cardboard viewers and guide students to various points at each location. The teacher can even see where students are looking from the tablet app. It’s definitely something you have to experience first hand to fully understand how it works.

During the day yesterday I noticed that my friend Devin from Council Bluffs was also watching students have the exact same experience at the exact same time. We both were tweeting/instagramming (is this a word now?) pictures throughout the day. Devin wrote a reflection post calledĀ Oooh and Ahhh Moments. Ā Devin and I were on the same wavelength with our respective posts I think.

Watching students have a learning experience like this should beĀ cause for reflection. Their excitement and engagement for learning in this particular instance was infectious to be around. We can all remember (hopefully) a learning or teaching experience like this. Yet, we still are so ingrainedĀ with learning being all too static of an experience. Am I saying that we all run out and buy this set up (you can’t yet by the way) and make everything into a Google Expedition? Of course not. My point is, that with all the access and devices we’re providing students, are we truly stopping and reflecting deeply about teaching and learning? All the access and all the devices in the world aren’t going to change a thing. It will be our leaders and teachers that make the time for thoughtful reflection and conversation about what’s best for kids that will. Then it’ll beĀ those same leaders and teachers that are willing to make big changes necessary to truly move us forward. Ā Learning is not confined to a physical space or a given time frame any longer.Ā The world is out there, and our students can be takenĀ to it in an instant.

Here’s a short recap of some of our 2nd thru 6th graders’ day with Google Expeditions. Enjoy.