By Any Means Human – What are yours?

Summertime is a unique time in the life of a teacher, at least in the life of this teacher.

a – it gives me time to take back my self after the non-stop of the school year.
b – it also allows for reflection on the teaching I have done and will do.
(c – and of course summer is a time for fun, without thinking about having to preserve my energy for the classroom in the morning!)

…back to the reflection…

Beyond (or before) the academic content and the tools that we teach to help students master that content is us.

Us as teachers and as people.

Who we are as humans and what things human we bring to our classrooms.

It’s our humanity that makes us unique as teachers.

So I ask, what is the human gift that you bring to your classroom (be it K-12 or conference/workshop/lecture room)? I think we all bring a whole bunch of different gifts, but I’m asking for your #1.

Think about it.

Mine? I bring calm. I’ve been told by a few students over the years that they appreciate this – “Miss, you’re so zen!” – and so I try to create more pockets of it in their lives.
How do I do this?

I’m calling on some teachers to answer this one with me. Pass it on to others if you like by linking back here.


And, it goes without saying, if you are reading this and are somehow not on that list, sorry I left you out. Didn’t mean to, please join in!

em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble or Hesitancy and “digital literacy”

Image found on Wikipedia: Hopf Fibration and released into the public domain by its author, Davidarichter

I’ve stayed away from this blog for the past 2 days or so. I’ve been reading a crime novel, making a necklace, playing with my dog, doing suduko, unpacking and organizing, facebooking, and tweeting – basically keeping my mind superficially busy so that it could be free to work away on some issues in the background.

The reflection was triggered by comments on my last post.

I teach, learn, and live with digital technologies. I do think it important to pass on skills and knowledge regarding these technologies to my students and colleagues. So, why am I unsettled?

On Monday,Keith Gessen mused,

Nice thing we’ve got going here, this “pro-internet,” “anti-internet” debate.

(go read his post to see what he was going on about).

And as I read his post it made me think that this has all become a debate – a this vs. that – and it’s so not about that. It is, however, a resistance to the growing feeling I have that ‘digital literacy’ (see bottom of post for more on that) is becoming confused with the goal.

I teach, learn, and live with digital technologies, among other technologies, because I have found them to help me in my goal mission – YES MISSION – to help kids learn…

…that kindness is a trait to be valued.

…that making hateful comments like these ones have repercussions that go deep into our souls.

…that accountability and responsibility for one’s actions is heavy heavy….but, heavy.

…how to seek and find the positive in life.

…that they can find their highest selves

…that they can help others to find their highest selves too

…what it is to be a part of a community

And I can’t forget
…that they need to hang on to a sense of humour.

Ease with technology needs to be could be (depending on our immediate needs ;) ) integrated into our learning selves, but it isn’t THE goal.


A virtual high five goes out to these posts I read earlier today:
Learning, Motivation, and Technology by Steve Ransom
Motoko by Keith Gessen
Resources for Community Managers by Connie Bensen
Workplace Literacy by Ken Allen

ps – The term ‘digital literacy’ is starting to creep me out. I laughed OUT LOUD when I read Doug Belshaw’s tweet this morning. It was a good one:

Go back to where you were

Perpetuating the Story of Difference? or Literacy, revisited.

Literacy is a topic close to my heart.

I became a teacher 12 years ago because I felt a call to do whatever possible to make sure that all children knew how to read. Since then, the theme has deepened for me, coming to mean much more than just knowing how to read.

Dennis and I recently hashed out our working understanding of literacy in Boy in the Bubble revisited and in Literacies – digital and otherwise…or not. Christopher has explored the historical roots of education and literacy and we discussed what this might mean in a contemporary context in Digitality or Why ‘Literacy’ is Dead and again in Literacies – digital and otherwise…or not, referenced above.

I am coming to know literacy as being able to use cultural tools to make sense of the world we live in.

When I couple that with my understanding of experience and story – see Who are teachers? and my comment to SASSY reviews CNN’s Black in America: Black Men – I need to respect that there are many ways to do this, to make sense of the world we live in – to make sense of me in the world I live in relation to you and you in the world you and you live.

And so I am unsettled this morning as I reflect on how we – those of us who champion educational technology – think about, blog about, talk about, present about, attempt to persuade about, make assumptions about sense-making in our world.

This unsettled feeling has been creeping up on me, hanging out in my shadows. It stepped out of them for a moment this morning as I read Doug Belshaw’s EdD Thesis Proposal, in particular his equation of literacy in the 21st century with digital literacy. I commented (or at least I tried to, until edublogs’ server dropped the connection to the site … once again…):

Yup, still unsettled by the equation
literate in the 21st century = digitally literate

I think it is part of the equation, one of the ways to get there, but the sole definition of contemporary literacy?

Certainly excludes people without much access to digital media. Is there a danger of creating an even larger illiterate world by virtue of this definition?

I’m curious as to how you will explore this.

And I still ask the question – are we creating an even larger divide between peoples and cultures with different access to media when we make statements like:

“Literacy today depends on understanding the multiple media that make up our high-tech reality and developing the skills to use them effectively” (from Connecting the Digital Dots: Literacy of the 21st Century (2006) by Barbara R. Jones-Kavalier and Suzanne L. Flannigan)?

Can we really say that literacy depends on that? To rephrase using somewhat out-of-date terminology, by doing so are we creating an even larger divide between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd worlds? And what about between the different socio-economic situations within our own countries?

Are we honouring different stories and experiences by limiting our definition of literacy to digital, or at the very least by claiming it to be the most relevant?

Are we making the differences even more apparant?

Are we making the differences even more apparent? (UNHD 07/08 World Literacy Map)

I have a lot of questions.

I feel unsettled.

Who are teachers?

“Today’s topic…self-construction”

KRS-One **audio from, April 22, 2008

7 months ago (though I just discovered it) Clay Burrell wrote On Leaving Teaching to Become a Teacher:

More and more I wonder: is school a good place for teachers who want to make a difference in the lives of their students, and to the future of the world? Is there a way to leave the daily farce of gradebooks, attendance sheets, tests, corporate and statist curriculum, homework assignments, grade-licking college careerist “students” (and parents), fear of parents and administrators, and fear of inconvenient socio-political truths – and at the same time, to make a far more meaningful impact on the lives of the young?

I’m thinking yes. I’m thinking, moreover, obviously. I’m not sure how much longer I want to work for schools. I’d so much rather teach.

Coinciding with that discovery was 2 others:

But really, there are no coincidences.

My mission as a teacher has to do with teasing out the stories, with helping people find their stories – the most positive ones they can.

Like Clay, I don’t think that teaching is relegated to the classroom. In fact most real content that affects peoples lives is not found in the classroom, it’s found in the experiences that make up each of our stories.

Example: KRS-One is truly a teacher. He inspires to create a positive story.

“Today’s topic – self-construction”

“… This is an opportunity for you to rise to your highest self. There it is.”

I’m not going to tell you his story, watch the video up top, and you’ll get an idea of where those quotes come from.

The point here, is that teachers are found all over.

So why do I choose to teach in the classroom?

Classroom teaching is a unique opportunity to help young people choose their direction and write their stories. It’s like living is research, and the classroom is the lab where we get to make sense of all that cool data.

My job has so much more to do with helping kids organize the information that comes at them (the stories of the world) in a way that makes sense for them, then it does with teaching them the stories of the world, and so much more than it does with “…gradebooks, attendance sheets, tests, corporate and statist curriculum, homework assignments, grade-licking college careerist “students” (and parents), fear of parents and administrators, and fear of inconvenient socio-political truths…”

Yeah, there’s some paperwork and politics. I keep my mind focused on student need and my core values of relationship and hope for the future, and the paperwork and politics don’t seem as important. Everything falls into place.

Cause this is what I am supposed to be doing.
It’s the best way I know to rise to my highest self, and to help others do the same.

That’s why I teach.

I unlocked the key to Mysql and Php :)

Saved by Now and Here on Flickr
Image: Hallelujah by David Farrant found on flickr

If you are reading this you must have landed here in the few minutes I am using to test my creation of a new database on the new server. kinda scary playing with mysql and php but I think I did it!

about to publish…the real test…

(This shoutout goes to ME!)