Being Self-Aware

I’ve had a few conversations lately with family, friends and colleagues about self-awareness. I find it fascinating as a personal introspective but wondering if it can be and should be explicitly taught. For the most part, I consider myself pretty self-aware. I suppose most people would say the same. We like to think we’re honest with ourselves about our strengths and weaknesses and foibles and annoyances. It usually takes more than simply being reflective to address this. It requires the eyes of others to at times let you know when you’ve missed the mark or even when you’ve done well but weren’t even aware of the impact. On more than one occasion, I’ve come to terms with my own lack of self-awareness.

Exhibit 1:

I’m one of the worst complimenters on the planet. This is now a running joke among the folks I work with at Discovery Education. I have a bad habit of using “actually” or some other odd qualifier when I give people a compliment. “Actually, that’s not a bad shot” (ask Steve Dembo for the full story) I certainly wasn’t aware I was doing this but after being called on it more than once, I now can … Read the rest

Am I Successful?

A few years ago I got a call from Elisa Carlson. She was inquiring about having me come speak in Surrey for their Digital Learner Series. I didn’t know Elisa and she really didn’t know me. As she asked about what I would speak about, she said, “I don’t even know if you’re any good.” Since then Elisa has become one of my dearest colleagues and I often point to her as an example of great leadership. But that initial question is actually a pretty good one.

I’ve had my struggles in measuring success. I first encountered my mild disdain for the notion when I was introduced to SMART goals. Every time I tried to create a goal I was excited about, I was immediately confused and challenged by my inability to identify measurable goals. Some told me my goals weren’t written correctly. They were probably right. I also struggle with such a strong focus on goals in general. Many will tell you that unless you write down your goals you’ll never achieve them. Maybe. Maybe not.

As a teacher, I knew my efforts to help students be successful went way beyond grades and scores, yet that remains the … Read the rest

Lessons From 70+ Ignites

Over the past 18 months, I’ve hosted 8 Ignite Events as part of my role as Community Manager for Discovery Education. If you’re not familiar with these events, here’s a brief invitation I created for our upcoming event in Vancouver.

I’ve heard superintendents, principals, teachers, community members and students share over 70 of these talks. Mostly hosted in pubs or restaurants, there are several factors that make this one of the best networking/learning events I’ve been a part of.

  • Location: The fact we hold them in a pub is important. It’s purposely not in a school and not just because people can drink, although that can helpful. 😉 An offsite location immediately relaxes people, let’s them know this isn’t necessarily work related as well it represents a neutral meeting space. In addition, the less fancy, the better. Each location has had its challenges in terms of viewing screens and hearing speakers but those constraints actually make people work harder to support one another.
  • Social first, learning second: The order is important. In most professional learning environments, social is at best acknowledged, at worst ignored. Our focus is on the networking. We create time and space to have conversations. For many
Read the rest

My Best Work This Year

IMG_1016This was another incredibly satisfying year professionally. My work with Discovery Education continues to evolve and my role as Community Engagement Manager is one where I get to work with so many wonderful people. I spoke to thousands of people in keynotes and workshops. I collaborated with colleagues on many projects and contributed to lots of content online. However this year my best work came in the form of a passion around storytelling.

A few years ago I saw a great series of videos produced for Prudential Insurance called Day One Stories. These were short videos featuring people on their first day of retirement. While that may or may not sound very interesting, they were shot beautifully and told simple but compelling stories.

I immediately considered both how a similar concept could be used within the Discovery Education Community. Having dabbled with video over the years, I relished the opportunity to create something based on these stories. The DEN (Discovery Education Network) began in 2005 so this was our tenth year. We celebrated in various ways and I was given the opportunity to celebrate by creating my own version of the Day One Stories.

Ben Grey, who … Read the rest

Critical Literacy


In case you missed it, Discovery Education offered a free virtual conference in October that centered around Kathy Schrock’s 13 Literacies for the digital age. Unique presenters all shared in 30 minutes or less many perspectives on these various literacies. All of them have been archived and edited so they are great for review and sharing at staff meetings or PD events.

I closed the event with a presentation on critical literacy. There were some new elements I had to explore and had a great time putting together this talk. My colleague and friend Steve Dembo did some fancy editing to remove the 10 minute debacle that took place as I lost sound to my computer and had to transfer my slides to another machine. All in all, it worked out and here’s the presentation if you care to watch.

Critical Literacy, featuring Dean Shareski from Discovery Education on Vimeo.… Read the rest