Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Lone Nut and Moonshot Thinking: Lessons learned from #CUERockstar & #GAFEsummit

All week, I kept thinking that I needed to reflect on my experience at CUE Rockstar, a hands-on teacher tech camp that took place last week in Truckee. Such a gorgeous place! This is a picture of Donner Lake shot with  my Android phone on the evening of the last day.
I’ll never forget the Facebook message I sent Joe Wood after seeing his call for presenters on Twitter in February. “I don’t really think I'm a rockstar, but it seems like there just aren’t that many people out there doing tech with little kids.” Joe, like he always does, says “You’ll be great!” And so, I sent off my application and waited. I was very excited when I received the email that I’d been accepted. I went to school and encouraged my friends to sign up to attend. Three days of professional development for $149? In a vacation destination? Of course, they said yes. I was both nervous and excited about the opportunity to lead tech PD for CUE.
And then I saw this video. Trina Carter mentioned that she had seen it on the CUE Rockstar website. Watch it and then continue reading.

Trina told me, “Jen, you’re the shirtless guy! I’ll be your first follower!” Now I was really scared. I was going to have to raise my game for sure to be a Rockstar presenter. And I was even more scared when I saw the list of presenters. Kevin Brookhouser. John Stevens. Will Kimbley. Alice Chen. Diane Main. Ryan O’Donnell. Jeanne Feeney. Joe Wood. Tally Burkhart. Most, if not all, are Google Certified Teachers. REAL Rockstars. The kind you read about all the time on Twitter and in CUE Magazine. But, I am fearless to a fault, so I just got ready and crossed my fingers! Catlin Tucker said once, “It will either be fabulous or it will be over.” I adopted this as my mantra. I asked my daughter Hope, “What if no one comes to my sessions?” to which she replied, “Just go learn from someone else!” Smart girl. I WISH I could have attended the other sessions. There is so much to learn and there were so many amazing sessions. Long story short, I had a great time. My sessions were full and I discovered that it’s true what they say: the smartest person in the room is the ROOM. We all learned together and had a great time. We took a Rockstar hike. We danced. We ate ice cream. We tweeted. I loved hanging out with my Buckeye friends - Poppi, Trina, Connie, Kori, and Natasha! I can’t wait for next year!
But, in spite of what you might have heard about me, I’m not always the shirtless dancing guy leading people down a tech rabbit hole! Sometimes I’m that first follower. Take this weekend, for example! It was about 7:00 am. I was up early to let my new puppy out. She’s very cute, but she does not sleep in!
Since I was up, I decided to participate in the #satchatwc chat on Twitter, a chat moderated by Shelley Burgess that provides a weekly forum for West Coast educators to talk about current issues. As I was chatting, I started noticing the #GAFEsummit hashtag showing up on Twitter. It turns out there was another conference going on in the Bay Area- the Google Apps for Education Summit. There was no way I was going anywhere else, but I was able to follow the conference online by following the tweets! It was ALMOST like I was there. I sat there in my PJ’s and learned right along with the attendees. I so appreciate all of those educators who tweeted out tips and links during the 2 day conference. I learned how to email a video to my YouTube channel from any mobile device and how to add voice comments to a Google doc. I have two pages of notes just from following the Twitter conversation.
Sunday afternoon, someone tweeted out a link to the video from the keynote speaker. Moonshot Thinking. Check out the video and be inspired!

I think what I have realized most from these two different experiences is that we need the lone nuts- the dancing shirtless people willing to start a movement. We need moonshot thinkers who are willing to say out loud, “Let’s try this!” even if the outcome is uncertain. Sometimes I’m the lone nut, but I also want to be the first follower! When Kevin Brookhouser tweeted out today “Who’s following #GAFEsummit from afar?” I immediately tweeted back, “Me!” I’m so glad I did. Turns out he was looking for a remote correspondent to participate in his session via Google Hangout as he taught teachers how to do student broadcasts. I got to report about my experience following the conference via Twitter-- from my pool deck! I had no idea how it was going to go, but I fixed my hair and said yes. I am so thankful to know educators like Kevin who dream up something cool and just ask for someone to join. Here’s the YouTube video of our hangout. Good, messy fun. And I learned a lot. Next time, I’m presenting from my pool floaty!

So if you aren’t ready to be the shirtless dancing lone nut, I challenge you to be the first follower! When that lone nut asks you to dance, just say yes! After all, it will either be fabulous or it will be over!

Learn. Lead. Sparkle. A new blog for a new beginning.

 CC Photo by Abby Lanes on Flickr.

      Learn. Lead. Sparkle. This blog is brand new, but the idea behind it was born last summer when I was a part of the Area 3 Writing Project Summer Institute. After applying, interviewing, and being selected to spend 4 weeks learning with 16 other K-12 educators, it was the week before the SI was set to begin. For the first day, we had to bring an artifact, some kind of visual representation of ourselves. I began looking around and  had no idea what to take. It turned out I needed a closet remodel to find my artifact. 
      My husband's remodel of our small master closet required me to drag everything so that he could install the new shelves. As I unpacked my closet, I discovered that I owned tons of sparkly things. Gold glitter flip flops. T-shirts with bling on the front. Glamourous jewels, mostly fake. Even light up high heel shoes with glitter straps! 

      I always loved buying things that sparkle, but I had no idea how much until I pulled it all out of my closet last summer. I thought about my collection of glittery things and tried to remember why I started buying sparkly things. I'm definitely not a girly-girl or princess type. That wasn't the reason. It's not about being fancy. Sparkle is all about attitude. 
      We all have those dark days, when nothing goes right. About 10 years ago I had a lot of them in a row. That's when it all started. My first glitter was sparkle face gel. I decided that on days I didn't feel so sparkly, I would wear a little with my eyeshadow. Just a little visual reminder to myself that no matter how I felt on the inside, I could still sparkle on the outside! Every time I looked in the mirror I was reminded that I could suck it up and keep going. 

     Ultimately, I ended up taking my light-up shoes as my artifact. I have actually only worn them once- where I slipped very ungracefully and ended up on the floor! Even though I have retired the shoes, I still love things that sparkle. If you see me anywhere, look for something that glitters! Every day I wear something that sparkles- most days it's a giant ring (not real, of course) - and every day I try to have a positive attitude. For the first time, after 16 years as a K-5 teacher, I am thrilled to be starting new role as an elementary lead learner ( AKA principal) in a K-3 school. I am determined to learn, to lead, and of course sparkle! I hope you'll join me!