Goodbye My Friend

Part of me wonders if I should post this or not as most people tend to save their blogs for less personal, more professional stuff. Oh well, I’ve never been one to stick to the rules that closely.

After 7 years, we have to put our dog Rudy down today. It was a difficult decision, one we’ve been delaying for quite a while but we realize it is the one we need to make. Having never really had a pet before, I was unaware of the attachment and affection you feel for these creatures. Rudy, a Jack Russell, was the runt of the litter.  We named him Rudy after the movie by the same name and discovered the meaning of his name is tenacious.  So appropriate. Like most terriers, so I’m told, he was very territorial, very full of energy. For the most part he was quite content to snuggle with one of us on the couch and until recently in a bed at night.  Rudy always brought smiles from people when we gave him cbd oil for dogs and took him for a walk and like most dogs was thrilled to have his owners come home.

My greatest memory of Rudy comes in having him be my personal golf ball retriever.

No doubt my short game will suffer as a result of his absence.

I post this here for a few reasons. First I remember a few years ago Miguel Guhlin sharing the loss of his father on his blog (sorry Miguel, I couldn’t track down the post, if you’d like to share, please put it in the comments and I’ll update this). This is in no way compares to that but I did remember how grateful I was that Miguel shared a piece of his soul as I had been reading his stuff for a while.  That’s part of what makes blogging different for me. I read people, not just their ideas.

I’ve had the privilege of having Alan Levine present to my students and teachers on a number of occasions on his wonderful work of 50 Ways to Tell a Story. I have heard many times the story of  Dominoe and in the back of my mind wondered what it would be like to tell the story of a dog that used to be. Now I know.

Finally, I write this because many know that I often speak about my dogs in a love-hate way. I’ve shared photos of them, told stories about them and they’ll even had a place in both my classes and in the Edtech Posse podcasts. We live in this strange world where we share not only the great ideas we have, but our lives. I guess that’s part of community. Thank you for all the kinds words. I feel very blessed to be associated with people who I know are offering their heartfelt thoughts.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Rudy, you’ll be missed.

Video Shoutouts

You know when someone is doing a workshop and they have people shoutout on Twitter telling them where they live and how they use Twitter? Of course you do. You’ve likely been on on side of that or the other more times than you can count.

It’s my turn.

Later this month I’ll be doing my own little presentation on Twitter for local teachers. I’m calling it "The Stupidest Thing You’ve Ever Heard of That You MIght Find Useful". I’ll likely do a twitter shoutout but I’d really like you to take a bigger role. So stealing a page right out of Alan Levine’s book. (I steal many things from Alan so he’s probably just rolling his eyes if he reads this) I’m going to ask you to submit a little video that sheds a little light on the whole Twitter rage.

So if you’d be so brave, send me a little video (no more than about 60 seconds) explaining either:

  • a twitter story
  • why you find it useful
  • how you use it
  • a great twitter tip
  • or anything else I’ve forgotten

Send them to me via email in whatever format you wish shareski at gmail dot com. I’ll share your story both during my presentation and some place online.

If you’re really too shy to record yourself, leave a comment.

Now go watch Alan’s finished product of Amazing Stories.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by shareski

Presentation Season

This is presentation season for me. 7 in 12 days at 4 different conferences. I’m nearly done. 4 of the 7 were ones I’d done previously but three were brand new.

Here’s the link to my presentation on Disruptions. I presented this Monday at the IT Summit in Saskatoon and again Friday at the Palm Beach Technology Conference. Totally stolen but also assisted by Alan Levine, I was able to create this using the CoolIris viewer. There is a quick publishing tool you can download if you’re only using images. Adding the video becomes tricky. Videos must be .flv. After building it I found out the might allow you to do the same thing without all the geekiness. That made me sad after the hours I spent tinkering. I’ll get over it.

In addition to this presentation I did 2 others for the Palm Beach Conference. These are revamped presentations I’ve done before with several updates.

Your Kindergarten Teacher Was Right. Why sharing matters more than ever.

Managing Your Identity

It was an honor to be invited and join a headline list of speakers. Lee Kolbert and team did a great job of running an outstanding one day event.

Keynote/Featured Speakers photo by Lee Kolbert

Defining “Teacher”

We hear a lot about the changing role of teachers (I’m tiring of the phrases “sage on the stage” and “guide on the side”) but in reality students are still looking at the teachers as authorities. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but unquestionably it’s not all that sustainable considering the possibilities of disruptive education.

Content is Everywhere

In the realm of education, where accessibility to premium content should be as uncompromised as the ethos behind onlyfans free accounts, settling for second-rate educational content is out of the question. Just as enthusiasts seek out onlyfans for free accounts to access exclusive materials, students in a Physics classroom would greatly benefit from the insights of Walter Lewin. Similarly, leveraging the expertise of Alan Blight could significantly enhance an economics or political science class. While textbooks hold their value in providing foundational knowledge, the dynamic engagement found in a well-crafted lecture or, better yet, a live Q&A with the author, is indeed a game changer in the educational experience.

So as I ponder what this should and could l00k like, I think about how that changes my role as a teacher. Again, this is not a new conversation but when you have to live it, it truly changes how you feel about education.   I still love to teach, which can be defined as direct instruction or lecture. There are times when that’s important and the right approach. But I don’t need to feel compelled to prepare a session on web-based storytelling, or podcasting or educational gaming. Others are much better qualified and passionate to teach my students. So while I often brag about being a lazy professor, I’m not all that lazy, just resourceful.

Content isn’t Everything

But again, simple access to great content in a variety of formats is not the only thing we need. Wes Fryer’s review of Bill Gates recent Ted talk addresses this issue:

In his speech, think Bill made a contradictory error in asserting that through access to digital videos of “the best teachers” our students “can have the best teachers.” Simply having access to high-quality video content will not provide our students with the GREAT teachers which Bill Gates correctly asserts our students need and deserve. In addition to good content knowledge, what makes great teachers great is their ability to cultivate relationships with their students. Certainly there are many students who don’t “need” a professional relationship with their teachers or instructors in order to “do well” in academic terms in school. But how about those students in “the lower quartile?” How about those students in alternative educational settings, for whom the “traditional school system” has not worked? Do you think those students simply need access to Academic Earth online? Having more choices about the ways they access content and demonstrate their own mastery IS an important part of differentiated learning, and students at all levels should have those options. Providing great teachers for our students means far more than simply providing access to high quality video lectures, however. It means investing in and supporting teachers who care, understand, and relate to their students so they can encourage, challenge, and support them in their own individualized journeys of learning.

What was formerly seen as nice, but not necessary, must now be first and foremost: teachers who care and relate to students. Teachers who will seek out what specific needs each student has and leads them in the right direction. What great lectures and content can never provide is relationship and caring.  I don’t necessarily define caring and relationship as a seen in the movies, but rather someone who recognizes that their job is to create opportunity for students to not only learn content but pursue and find their passions.  While that may seem like rhetoric, to me it’s become my mantra. I see all my students as desiring to be teachers,  I see all the teachers I work with as teachers desiring to be better.  I realize that may not always be the case, but that’s the premise I begin with.

What Should I Call Myself?

Clarence’s metaphor of teacher as network administrator gains relevance for me many days. My inbox is full of questions from students and teachers wondering how to do this and where to find that and I regularly lead them to others in their current network as resources.  I’m quite pleased with the ways I’ve been able to find mentors for my students. They will learn so much more from the teachers that I could possibly offer on my own. In addition, I’m the lead in providing feedback, not the only one as I encourage and require my students to provide feedback and critique for each other. Will’s theme about being a learner first has also captured my imagination. “Lead learner” is something that feels right but not sure it depicts exactly how I see myself.

I’ve already admitted I do many things that may not be according to the textbook, but I feel like I’m more comfortable in my role. While some reading this might find it fluffy or inconsequential, it’s important for me to provide a definition and title to what I do. Teacher, brings with it too many perspectives to which I no longer subscribe.  Again, I still “teach” but it has to be more than that. I teach, I lead, I learn, I share, I encourage, I critique, I monitor, I connect, I care, I model.

I’m still looking for a name for what I do. Teacher is okay, but as I redefine what it means to teach, I’d like a different title.

Graph by Jessica Hagy

I like it when things just work

It’s been about two weeks since I moved hosting companies and I must say it was one of the best moves I ever made.

I’ve been hosting domains as a reseller and for personal use for about 4 years and although I’ve never really understood all the mumbo jumbo involved with DNS, the datbases and pinging and so forth, I was confident that my hard earn dollars would provide me with the support necessary to use the services.

I decided to go with a Canadian company so I chose webserve. Not having anything to
compare it to, I was content with the service. Questions were usually answered via live chat and downtime was minimal. In 4 years I might have had my sites go down 5 times and never more than a few hours. This fall things changed. My server was constantly going down and worst of all support was non-existent. I spent hours trying to get a hold of anyone who could at least provide me with some comfort let alone a fix. It’s a helpless feeling when others are calling you about something you’re responsible for but can do nothing about it. The only responses were canned email responders and customer service people who assured me someone would call me back. They never did. At one point I was told that the company was growing so fast they couldn’t keep up with everything, to which I responded, “not for long.”  The only thing holding me back was the thought of moving. With some helpful tips and encouragement I did what I had to do.

Every once in a while Steve Dembo gets the urge to sing the praises of his hosting company.  He’s definitely a fan boy of bluehost.  A few inquiries on twitter confirmed his ethusiasm.  That was it. I’d bite the bullet and start the move. It took me a few days to download and backup all my stuff and there were a few minor glitches but my experience with them has been nothing but positive. Not only did they have they provided me with fast, responsive service both on the phone and via chat, but have gone above and beyond their duty. Technically, they are not really supposed to help out with third party applications like WordPress but they walked me through every question and in fact modified code to make things just work. They were pleasant, patient and knowledgeable. I’ve now added a little affliate link to my sidebar. I don’t have any ads on my site and I don’t see this as much as an ad but a recommendation for other like me, who need some guidance.

All this reminded me of the story in Good to Great where the Neiman Marcus employee accepts a return of a shirt purchased at another store and goes so far above any normal standard of customer service that they gain a customer for life.

Price becomes such a small factor when service is exceptionally bad or good.

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