The Computer That Started It All

Picture of an Macintosh LC II computer from 1990.
The Macintosh LC II. Introduced October 15, 1990 with a retail price of $2500.00!

This is literally the computer that started it all for me. The very first computer that created my love for computers, technology, and helping others learn about and be more comfortable with technology. This computer came out in 1990, and it was the first computer my mom had to use in her classroom. I was in 9th grade I believe when this picture was taken which was the 91-92 school year (I’m using the picture with friends sitting on top of my desk as a reference point ?). How about that wide assortment of cologne too?! Oh middle school and high school sure was fun…but I digress.

Since this was a computer provided to my mom for use in her classroom, which was a big deal in and of itself, teachers were allowed to take their computer home over extended breaks and during the summer. Thinking back, that was a really big deal that teachers were allowed to do this; especially now when we consider what we have in our pockets every day and how we effortlessly take our computers anywhere we want! So since the computer came to my home any chance I could get, when it was at home it became my computer.

I connected everything, fired that thing up, and I was instantly in a new world. No, not because of the internet, because I was using a technology that prior to being 14/15 years old I hadn’t had any real exposure to. I was obsessed with knowing everything there was to know about what that machine could do. There weren’t any YouTube videos to teach me; I had to explore, try, mess up, and try again. I quickly mastered the basics and was soon teaching my mom everything she needed to know for day to day productivity and also some fun things too (hello Print Shop!).

Pretty soon, my mom was loaning me out to the other teachers at school. Mind you, I went to the same middle school my mom taught at. So when mom told me she was taking me over to a teacher’s house on the weekend to help them with their computer skills, I felt pretty amazing that I was going to be teaching them something!

This one particular moment in my life is where my love for computers, technology, and teaching others about it began. Completely unplanned, unintentional, and nothing I learned about in a formal way.

I wish I would have had more opportunities to learn that way growing up. It was all so linear and locked into such traditional means. We all now have a multitude of ways to learn on our own time and in our own way, and sometimes that doesn’t have to only happen inside of a physical school building or during “normal” school hours. I’m not insinuating we should depart from “normal” education as we know it, but when we can learn in real-time or at our own speed, by ourselves or in a group, across a wide range of media, maybe it’s time to rethink some things.

Passion Over Perfection

This first week(s) of remote teaching and learning has been quite an adventure for schools everywhere. I have said more than once that this feels a bit like we’re building the plane as we fly it. To say that things are fluid is an understatement. Teachers were already known for their flexibility before, but now more than ever teachers win “World Champion of Flexibility” with all of the adjustments and quick learning they’ve had to take on. Same for parents – they’ve had to adjust work schedules and figure out a new normal for students doing all learning from home. It’s been a lot for all parties involved, especially our students.

One of the things I have loved seeing though is the grace and kindness being given. It truly helps us all be successful in all of “the new” we’ve taken in over the last couple of weeks. It really helps allow teachers’ passion to shine. And shine it has! In all of the communications that our district leaders have sent recently, I am so appreciative of how perfection has not been expected, but passion has. When grace and kindness prevail, it paves the way for our passion to truly shine, which is what we need more than ever now in education, in the world, and in our every day lives.

Are you making sure the passion gets the spotlight?

Relationships Matter?

Of course relationships matter. Has anyone ever regretted investing time and energy in building relationships with students or our peers? Does anyone ever truly think, “Boy was that a colossal waste of time!”?

I guess my ultimate question is, “Why do adults still have to be reminded of its value?”.

I have only officially been a leader in my current role for 3 years now. I guess you could call that my formal leadership experience. My informal leadership experience (not even sure what would fall under that category; speaking gigs, writing, organizing 10 years of Edcamps, I really am not sure) greatly outweighs my formal experience. It really doesn’t matter because what I’m getting at is that out of all of that, my best moments have been the time I have invested in others by listening, knowing, and understanding them as people first. The work-related or business stuff has always come second to me. It’s important for sure, but not as important what building good relationships can do for us.

What can building relationships do for us exactly? Well, I think it’s good for our overall health; I want the time spent fostering good relationships full of knowing people as people, not just someone I work with or just a student I teach, etc. That’s one of my favorite things about the team I lead now – we intentionally take small breaks in our day to talk about our lives, our families, and things that aren’t work-related. It almost always involves laughter. It’s intentional; like talking about that show everyone is currently binging or how someone on my team just went and stayed in a Hobbit cave with her husband (true story – Google it).

I wonder if there’s still folks though that question why we should do this? There must be with how many books and tweets and keynotes talk about its importance. Please let me be clear – I’m not saying it’s not important to talk about it. It is important. We all should want to hear about and experience new ways to connect with people; it’s one of the reasons I love getting to travel to conferences and meet people from all over the world. It’s the reason you hear so many people say that they get just as much out of (if not more than) what happens between sessions at conferences than some of the actual sessions. It’s why I’ve always said when speaking about being connected in digital spaces like Twitter that you get out of it what you put into it. The same goes for relationship building; it’s a give and take, and hopefully more and more we all take the “giving” approach to it.

Relationships should be the foundation of everything we do in our schools. It helps everyone better help everyone.