I ❤️ Libraries

Dear Teachers,

In another lovely gift from the universe, I have recently been able to return to working with my first love: libraries! It was truly a “right time, right place” opportunity: the previous library consultant (and formerly, the ONLY library consultant that Region 10 ever had!) decided to retire. I seem to be known as “that digital learning nerd who used to be a librarian.” So, it is my great fortune to assume the duties of Library Consultant – and have been so for a whopping 40 days now. I’m seriously nerding out about it!

My summer commitments in digital learning have kept me pretty busy up to this point, but I did my first-ever TexQuest training for a group of librarians this past Thursday. Y’all. I LOVE LIBRARIANS. They are seriously the best humans ever. (No offense to those of you who are not librarians.)

I’ve been scheduling PD opportunities for the fall semester. I’ll be adding additional sessions as they come up, but here is what I’ve cooked up so far. Many of these classes are offered collaboratively with my counterpart at Region 11, and we’ve had a great time putting our schedule together. I totally recognize that it will take some time to get a handle on the wide variety of needs across the area, but I’m hoping this preliminary schedule will offer a little something for a lot of folks.

If you have suggestions for library-related PD, I’d love to hear them. Happy reading, everyone!

Fondly,

Nancy

Reflecting on #ISTELive ’21

Dear Teachers,

This past week I had the privilege to attend the virtual conference of the International Society for Technology in Education. As many participants noted, I missed the opportunity to connect with other like-minded professionals face-to-face, but I LOVED being able to attend sessions that were occurring simultaneously through the magic of video. Being able to view concurrent presentations, whenever I want, is almost like having Hermione’s time-turner. Or something.

Anyway, my brain is very full right now, and I’m trying to process some of what I learned, and how I’ll share it all.

For starters, I can’t wait to share with my Dyslexia friends a couple of new tools that I think are amazing and will really make a difference for students and teachers. The first is Reading Progress in Microsoft Teams. This tool allows students to record themselves reading a pre-assigned reading passage, in their own time, and without the pressure of reading for the teacher. The teacher can then review each student’s video for fluency. The program will flag words where the student stumbled, and there are lots of analytics available to help the teacher understand where to focus their efforts in each child’s oral reading development. I’m a huge fan of Mike Tholfsen, product manager on the Microsoft EDU team, who provides helpful videos and blog posts about lots of the Microsoft EDU products, and just seems in general like a nice human. View a video about Reading Progress here; it’s my understanding that it will be available for everyone by the end of August.

The second tool I learned about to help students with their reading is called Clusive, from the good folks at CAST. It incorporates many of the features of Microsoft’s Immersive Reader but has some additional functionality. (It’s also lacking some features that Immersive Reader has.) You can read more about Clusive on this page. Both Reading Progress and Clusive are new and FREE, and I’m excited to see how they will be able to help struggling learners.

Screenshot of Clusive interface

Because I’m venturing back into the world of libraries (YIPPEE!!) in an evolving role at my Service Center, I attended several library-related sessions. Of particular interest to me were some presentations on media literacy. I truly believe that teaching media and information literacy is a moral imperative for educators, and that we can’t overemphasize the need to teach students (and the adults in their lives) the skills of fact-checking. Jennifer LaGarde, Darren Hudgins, and Kristen Mattson co-presented a session titled “Ethics and Media Literacy in a Digital World”; Jennifer and Darren immediately followed that one with a shorter session titled “Developing Digital Detectives One Meme at a Time.” I really appreciated how Jennifer drew such a direct line between social-emotional learning and media literacy, and how we have to help kids recognize that when a clickbait-y headline makes us feel angry, that is a signal to PAUSE rather than hit the retweet button. She shared a great list of resources on this Wakelet.

Karen Kelsall-Lagola is a new Twitter connection I’m happy to add to my PLN after attending her “Win the War on Fake News” presentation. In addition to the reminder about the sheer volume of content exchanged or uploaded, as the graphic to the right represents, Karen also provided a link to a study in Science Daily that found “when “true” and “false” labels were shown immediately after participants in the experiment read headlines, it reduced people’s misclassification of those headlines by 25.3 percent.” The timing of a debunking (vs. “prebunking”) is something I hadn’t considered before, and a concept that I want to explore more as I create my own presentations about media literacy.

LeeAnn Lindsey had probably the best session title of all those I attended: “Why We Shouldn’t Teach Digital Citizenship (and What We Should Do Instead).” Everyone in her audience seemed as intrigued by that title as I was, and she did not disappoint in her delivery. After highlighting 5 reasons why discrete “digital citizenship instruction” (direct teaching, packaged in stand-alone lessons or highlighted only once or twice per year) simply isn’t enough, she described a path of creating a culture of digital citizenship. I liked her “7 Keys to Unlocking a Culture of Digital Citizenship” graphic, and her Padlet activity is one I’ve already stolen admired and acquired in a session on digital citizenship that I’m facilitating this coming week. LeeAnn called my attention to Lauren Villaluz‘s terrific sesion on Digital Wellness, another one I was happy to have caught. Digital Connect Four, y’all – be sure to note that each game piece is linked to a different discussion question. Brilliant!

The third area of focus in my first round of ISTE viewing (because I definitely intent to go back and watch more of the recordings!) was equity. Henry J. Turner and Victoria Thompson, in separate sessions, addressed issues of racial equity as they relate to technology. Henry emphasized the Design Thinking process in being an antiracist technology leader and designing an antiracist culture. I’m quite happy to have signed up for his mailing list that promises “social justice leadership ideas and strategies,” since I’m a firm believer that ALL of us in education should be social justice leaders.

Victoria challenged us to amplify the voices of prominent scientists, authors, and political figures of color ALL THE TIME, not just in special “months” reserved for a subset of the population. She also called for tech companies to be more equitable in the kinds of images they provide for use on their platforms – not having “only blonde white children” in their stock photo reserves, for instance. Two questions she proposed caused a “one-degree shift” (thank you, Katrice Quitter) in my thinking about selecting resources: who is centered in the resource, and who could be impacted in this resource, either positively or negatively?

Since this post seems to be going on forever, I will save other takeaways for another day. If you’d like to take a look at my [as yet still poorly organized] Wakelet of resources from the sessions I attended, you can click here.

I hope you’re having a great, relaxing summer.

Fondly,

Nancy

Coaching Up Conditions for Creating a #DigCit State of Mind

Dear Teachers,

In my previous post, I described the evolution of a project I started on a while back. Several years ago, I created an infographic that seemed to capture the experience of many of us in what I call the “digital citizenship conversation” regarding how teachers often evolve in their understanding of digital citizenship. Over the past several months, I updated the infographic to reflect what I now think of as educator choices, rather than just educator attitudes. After all, the realities of the pandemic pretty much removed the choice about whether to use digital tools and replaced it with how to use them.

When I finished the 2nd infographic, I looked at it and thought to myself, “So what?” and I worried that perhaps it was stale and irrelevant. A colleague suggested that it could help librarians and coaches who want to elevate dig cit on their campuses to reflect on how to communicate with educators in each of the three brackets. She thought it could be useful in helping to guide teachers toward more sophisticated ways of thinking about digital citizenship. So I iterated again, and the newest version currently contains placeholders – that I hope to fill in soon – for ways that coaches might encourage educators to make more “advanced” choices about how they discuss issues of digital citizenship with their students.

Header of Infographic: Coaching Up Conditions for Creating a #DigCit State of Mind

I’ve already shared this “3.0” version with some members of my PLN and have gotten some feedback about how it might be used. One colleague noted that it can be pretty effective for coaches to develop materials to be “inserted” into teachers’ existing units and lessons. She added that as a coach, “having goals and some sort of mental or official scope and sequence of what you think needs work on in your district helps you figure out where those points of insertion are.” Another observed that educators need to be guided into thinking about how dig cit needs have changed since the pandemic started. A third member of my PLN mentioned that email etiquette is a great starting place for teachers and coaches. It’s relevant to them, and something they might view as worthwhile. Finding other entry points like teaching file management and those dreaded, yet beautiful, Boolean searches that everyone claims they know how to do, but don’t. When starting with necessary digital skills, teachers in any content area can see dig cit as relevant to them. And then perhaps those same teachers can be guided and nudged to address the more sophisticated and nuanced issues of digital citizenship.

I’m still mulling over the additions I’ll make to the “Coaches might…” sections of the infographic, and I’d love to get any suggestions that occur to you. If you have ideas, please reach out on Twitter or leave a comment on this post.

Fondly,

Nancy

That #DigCit State of Mind Thing, 2.0

Dear Teachers,

That whole pandemic thing really affected my blog-writing. I’ve started countless posts in the past year and a half or so, and very few of them were ever completed, let alone published. But things seem to be getting back to whatever “normal” is, so I’ve been feeling energized enough to get back to a project I started on a few months back.

Years ago, I created an infographic titled “Stages of Growth into a #DigCit State of Mind.” It was based on years of anecdotal observations of educators’ attitudes and behaviors around digital citizenship, and how I had seen growth in thinking, from teachers being very technology-averse to being quite proactive in helping their students think about complex issues of digital citizenship. This infographic was shared widely and was included in ISTE’s Digital Citizenship in Action online course.

I’ve been wanting to revisit that framework for quite awhile now, especially in light of how the pandemic impacted all of our digital lives. For example, many educators who had been adamant non-tech proponents prior to March 2020 had to – however reluctantly – embrace the power of technology to go about their daily work. Additionally, I heard countless stories about how students didn’t seem to have applied any learning from stand-alone digital citizenship lessons to the new realities of “Zoom School.”

Rather than viewing a “#DigCit State of Mind” as a continuum of stages, I’m now thinking that it’s about teachers’ choice in how they will respond to helping their students learn to navigate the digital world.

Image of “DigCit Options” infographic – bit.ly/digcitoptions

I’d be delighted if you’d take a look and see if these choices resonate with you. Is this what you’re seeing? What am I missing? And how can we encourage educators to “make good choices”? I look forward to hearing from you.

Fondly (as ever),

Nancy

Digital Citizenship in Remote Learning

Dear Teachers,

What a whirlwind of learning we’ve all be thrown into in the past couple of weeks! Few of us were prepared to start executing the emergency remote teaching we’ve had to learn so quickly, and those of us who have had ANY experience with distance learning courses know how much goes into the planning stages of a successful one. Being thrown into this circumstance with little to no time for preparation leaves most of us feeling pretty stressed out. We all find ourselves doing the best we can now to help our students without seeing them face to face. Not exactly what any of us signed up for, right?

And then, along with all of the other things you’re all having to learn so quickly, I want to throw in digital citizenship stuff, too? I imagine that if you’ve even read this far, you’re thinking, “Sure, Nancy. Exactly what I needed. One more thing to do.”

But the thing is, friends, this is really a PERFECT opportunity for you to start teaching those digital citizenship skills that you might have been putting off when you were all in your classrooms. You are, by necessity, being forced to interact with your students virtually now, whether that is synchronously (in real time) or asynchronously (at each person’s convenience, by recorded videos, discussion boards, etc.). My #digcit nerd friends and I are always stressing the importance of teaching digital citizenship authentically. And I’m not sure how things could get much more authentic than they are right now.

So in the spirit of keeping things simple, I offer you three-and-only-three tips to think about as you maneuver your new role as a remote learning facilitator:

Screenshot 2020-04-01 at 9.42.53 AM

 [PDF of Infographic is available here.]

If you’d like additional tips on how to get your kids engaged with digital citizenship topics, check out the app I created with GlideEveryday #DigCit has lots of talking points and questions to get your students thinking about their digital lives.

Don’t forget to take a break from your devices, too, and to remind your students to do the same. And do some slow, deep breathing as you remember that we’re all in this thing together.

Fondly,

Nancy

All Times Are Unprecedented

Dear Teachers,

What strange times these are! Only a couple of weeks ago, I was out at a mall doing some shopping, and a whole bunch of other people were doing the same. My husband and I were starting to make plans for an anniversary vacation in May. I was furiously planning several different professional learning sessions for the summer. I did my usual Sunday morning yoga class. Scoring some toilet paper did not elicit a celebratory social media post.

And then, just this past Monday (is it really only 6 days ago?), I went to work. Yes, I tried to stay in my own area and keep my germs to myself, and people were perhaps a little more subdued than they might normally have been on the Monday after Spring Break, but we were there. Monday evening, I got an email from my yoga studio saying they were temporarily closing, in accordance with city recommendations. Tuesday, our department at work was allowed to work from home, provided we came up with some Zoom sessions on how to do remote learning (which we did, by the way – and I am terribly proud of what we accomplished with about 12 hours’ notice!) Also Tuesday, my yoga studio was starting to offer classes via Zoom. By Wednesday, everyone in our service center was told to work from home.

love over fear

I keep hearing people say “these are unprecedented times,” and certainly that is true. In our lifetime, we have had neither a health scare of this magnitude, nor the technology to keep us all connected in spite of our semi-quarantines. But aren’t all times unprecedented, really? At the beginning of 2019, I had six people in my small nuclear-ish family; by this date last year, I was down to only four. And those four of us were all reeling from the unpredictable/unprecedented events that had befallen us. The fact that those dark and scary times were happening (seemingly) only to me did not negate the reality of unprecedented-ness. I’m guessing anyone who might be reading this has also had times of personal unprecedented-ness: times you would never willingly go back to but that will stay with you forever.

Remember that as unprecedented as these times are, every moment of our life is actually unprecedented. The best gift I get from my yoga practice is that of learning (over and over and over again) to stay in the moment. Each beautiful, unprecedented, unique moment.


I’m actually not a country music fan and would not be able to pick Tim McGraw out of a lineup, but these lyrics came into my head today, and I think they are good ones to keep in mind, regardless of the kind of times in which we find ourselves:

And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying

Speak sweeter today to the people who are working in the grocery store or pharmacy. Speak sweeter to the Amazon driver, mail carrier, trash collector, yard guy. Speak especially sweetly and send out all the possible good energy you can muster to health care workers who are feeling the brunt of this unprecedented time more than any of the rest of us. And love the people in your family a bit deeper.

Fondly, with many virtual elbow bumps,

Nancy

Why Social Media Should Be More Like Yoga

Dear Teachers,

When I’m not delivering professional development or talking/thinking/dreaming about digital citizenship, I’m either reading, walking my dog, or doing yoga. Yesterday at yoga, I got an inspiration for this blog post: let’s make social media more like yoga! If you’re scratching your head a bit at that thought, allow me to explain.

My yoga studio is a lovely, warm, inviting place, and because it’s been so successful, the adorable owner, Samantha, was able to open a second location. The grand opening of that new studio was held yesterday. Everyone wanted to congratulate Sam and see the beautiful new space, so it was a bit crowded. The room, obviously, only holds so many people, and we were all feeling a little comfortably crowded – and then someone else showed up. So we scooched our mats a little and made room for the new person. Then, two additional people walked in. Same thing. Then, FOUR MORE people wanted to join. Right as the clock was striking 9:00 (when the door is locked and class begins), one more person who was brand new to yoga stood timidly at the door, not knowing where to go. Once more, we all waved her in, adjusted our spacing, and absorbed her into the space of the room. Our yoga studio uses props like soft blocks and blankets; obviously there were not enough of these for everyone in such a crowded studio. And when the teacher asked if anyone would be willing to share props, you should have seen all the hands go up, waving their blocks, and offering them to anyone else who might need one. Because we were all so cozy and close, the teacher also had us do some crazy hard pose near the end where we were pressing against each other’s hands for support, all up and down the line of mats. I was the weak link on that one, I can tell you.

As I looked around at everyone being happy for Samantha and her beautiful new space, I thought, wow: this is the very best of humanity right here. People welcoming others, sharing what they have, and laughing together at an impossibly silly yoga pose fail. (Ok, maybe SOME of the participants found success on that one, but I was not among them.)

And because I have that digital citizenship thing on my radar like ALL THE TIME, this morning I was reading this terrific opinion piece by Leonard Pitts, Jr titled The Perils of Online Shaming. Pitts states that “there is something about the anonymity of social media that does not encourage us to be our best selves.” Boy, ain’t it the truth. I got to thinking about the scenario I described above and what it might have looked like if it had played out on Twitter instead of in real life. The tamest comments might have looked something like this:

  • You should have gotten here earlier! OMG. <eye roll emoji>
  • Coming in at the last minute, and you’re BRAND NEW? Not everyone would expect to get a spot with that kind of entitled attitude. Just sayin’.
  • I can’t believe the owner didn’t plan better for this crowd. She should have known there would be this many people.
  • I bet she’s the type who is always late to work , too. I’m tweeting a video of this outrageous behavior – c’mon, Twitter, let’s identify her and figure out who her employer is. #lateisnotgreat #beontimeforcryingoutloud #toomanymatsintheyogastudio #rookieyogamistakes #sincewhenisitfashionabletoonlygettoyogatwominutesbeforeclassstarts

You get the idea.

thewitch-no2
Source: https://enacademic.com/dic.nsf/enwiki/11594047

Moral outrage. Righteous indignation. I’m a little weary of this shaming cultured we find ourselves in right now. Then again, shaming has certainly been around a long time, probably since, like, forever. Maybe it’s just a part of our DNA.

But then again, kindness has been around a while, too, and the optimist in me wants to believe that’s just as big a part of our DNA.

The next time you see a snarky post on Twitter or Facebook – and it probably won’t take long for that to happen – imagine there is another side to the story. Imagine there is a human who has feelings, and who might be struggling with something difficult. Even remember that about the snarky person who made the unflattering post. Scooch over a little and make room for that person, even if they’re doing something you don’t especially agree with. (Maybe ESPECIALLY if they’re doing something you don’t agree with.) Share what you have. Welcome them. Build a relationship when you can. Because I can tell you, you’ll feel pretty good when you act like that. And maybe you’ll even restore someone else’s faith in humanity a bit, too.

Namaste,

Nancy

Wanna Help Me Build Something Cool?

Dear Teachers,

For years now, I have wanted to build an app for Digital Citizenship, one that would give teachers a variety of simple activities and talking points for doing that “seamless integration into what you’re doing anyway” that we in the #DigCit world always talk about. I was thinking that I would develop it and then sell it, and that it would be a source of retirement income. But the wonderful folks at Glide have made it so easy to build a free app from a Google Sheet that although my dream is coming true, I won’t be making any money off it. But I don’t even care because this is seriously EXACTLY what I’ve wanted.


Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 1.26.07 PM

What Glide has done is take a Google sheet I created and turned it in to a beautiful little app that I’m hoping will be very useful to educators who want to know how to incorporate digital citizenship every day. It’s still in a very “beta” stage, but you can take a look at how it’s shaping up at http://digcit.glideapp.io. Within each of the grade levels shown at right are 5 broad categories that pertain to digital citizenship: Safety & Security, Communication, Personal Ethics, Information Literacy, and Advocacy. And within THOSE categories are multiple sub-categories like Empathy, Screen Time, or Intellectual Property, just to name a few. And each of those sub-categories contains one or more questions or statements – just that one bite-sized talking point that might spark a conversation about digital citizenship that hopefully won’t feel like “just one more thing.”

And here is where I’d like to invite you to help participate in this project! I’m betting you have an idea of what might be a good topic or one-liner that should be included in this app. Or maybe you have an idea for an additional direction this app might go. Please add your ideas to this spreadsheet. (Be a good digital citizen yourself and don’t delete anyone else’s ideas. 😉 ) I hope that this app will become a terrific crowd-sourced resource for those educators who really would like to address digital citizenship in their classes but might just not be sure about where to start or what to say. Questions? Email me at nancywtech@gmail.com.

Looking forward to hearing from you! As always,

Nancy

Push Nothing Away

Dear Teachers,

One of my favorite yoga teachers has a gift for words and language, and as a CWN (Certified Word Nerd), I love what she has to say and how she says it. One of her oft-said phrases is “Reach for nothing; push nothing away.” She says this while we are bent into some unusual body shapes. But she means it in general, I think.

This phrase must have been on my mind when I offered up to the universe several weeks ago a semi-prayer. “Universe,” I said, “what is next for me in this life?” Sometimes the universe takes awhile to answer; other times answers come quickly. I was just barely paying attention when the universe answered. Here is what happened next.

I went to a meeting of a bunch of regional Instructional Technology geeks on November 6. A colleague told me about a job opening. Although I hadn’t been reaching for a new job, I got my resume together and applied. I was sick as a dog the day of the interview; I dragged myself out of bed, tried to make myself look presentable, and did my best, but I honestly couldn’t tell you anything about the interview itself. When it was over, I came home, changed clothes, flopped back on my bed, and stayed there for another six hours without moving.

But: I was offered the job. So then I had a dilemma. I love my current job! My coworkers are fantastic, I am well respected, I mostly know the correct answer if someone asks me a question about a program or policy. The new job does not pay more. SHOULD I TAKE THIS NEW JOB WITH ALL ITS UNKNOWNS???yoga-1027258_1920

Reach for nothing; push nothing away. Universe, what is next for me?

I talked over my decision with a few people. One trusted friend gently pointed out that neither decision would be a bad one. (She was right about that.) Another friend had recently changed jobs, and she shared that she’d had similar thoughts before deciding to accept her new position: What am I doing? What if I don’t like it? What if I don’t take it and hope for something to come around “some other time”? If I don’t take it, I’ll be “the girl who said no,” and I might not get another chance. What to do, what to do.

I hadn’t reached for the job; the universe seemed to present it to me on a platter. I chose not to push it away. So after 18+ years in my current district, I’ll be starting fresh as a Digital Learning Consultant at Region 10 ESC on January 3. I’m really excited about a fresh start at this point in my career. I’m looking forward to learning new things, helping new people, and having new experiences with another terrific team. Yes, I will desperately miss so many of the educators I’ve come to know and love in my current job. Yes, there will be a learning curve on How They Do Things at the new gig and I will probably screw up a time or two. Yes, I am completely unaware of where the bathrooms are. But I am proud of myself for not pushing away this opportunity.

0B5C0BFA-7B6D-40E3-B67A-F34F083FB493Whoever gets to sit in my current chair next is in for a treat, because (as I have said so many times in the past), I have had the good fortune to have the best co-workers in the world. I like to think that I am creating space and opportunity for someone else who might even now be making a supplication to the universe. #TeamAwesome will continue to be an awesome team.

I hope the universe delivers great things to each of you in 2019. Push nothing away.

Fondly,

Nancy

 

 

Lessons from the Yoga Mat

Dear Teachers,

Every week I look forward to my favorite 75-minute Deep Stretch yoga class. It’s a delicious and therefore very popular class, so I always try to arrive early so I can find a spot and get settled in. Today the spot I selected was about a mat’s length away from the front corner of the room, and I knew I might be crowding someone who might want to lay his or her mat down in that space. I didn’t have a whole lot of room to back up, though, and spots were going quickly, so I eyeballed the space I was leaving in the corner and hoped for the best.

As it got closer to the time for class to start, a woman did approach that space, and she started to roll her mat out in the spot. She was somehow holding her mat, a water bottle, her gym bag, her flip-flops, a yoga blanket, and a couple of yoga blocks, so she was pretty laden down. I asked her if she had enough room and told her I would try to move back a little. She said she thought she had enough room, but looked at all the stuff she had dumped on the floor near her and said, “I just have all this baggage.”

“Don’t we all,” I said and smiled, and she and the others around me laughed knowingly.

Those of us who go to yoga do it for probably somewhat similar reasons. We want to be more flexible. We want better balance. We are more about improvement than about meeting a particular once-and-done goal. We feel better physically and mentally when we practice yoga than when we don’t.

My Saturday morning yoga instructor is Lisa, and I love her class for many reasons, not least of which are her humor and her wry word choice. She  and the other yoga instructors have some great catch phrases that work really well off the mat, too. (It’s almost like they do that on purpose.) When I compare yoga to life off the mat, I often think about this ISTE poster and blog:

Screenshot 2018-09-15 at 12.42.26 PM

I’ll be leading an ISTE Certification Train-the Trainer session again in a few days, and one of the opening activities (spoiler alert) encourages participants to consider how each of the ISTE Standards for Educators is similar to a yoga pose. This time out, I hope to remember to drop in some of my favorite phrases that I’ve heard my yoga teachers say.

  • “We’re looking for functional flexibility.” I have turned this term over and over in my mind, and I really like it for so many reasons. We try to get physically more flexible in yoga, sure – but cognitive, social, and emotional flexibility are so important, too. Being cognitively flexible allows us to look at problems from different perspectives or design new experiences for our students. Social flexibility means that we know there are different ways to behave in different social situations and different ways to communicate depending on our audience and established group norms. Emotional flexibility means that I don’t necessarily *have* to have exactly the same emotional reaction every time that coworker or relative says something off-putting.
  • “Everyone is put together with different glue.” Differentiation, anyone? All of us have different needs, and those needs change even within a single person from day to day. Education is such an art! Think about all those ever-changing needs and how they all contribute to classroom dynamics each day (or each hour). It’s okay – even essential –  to make instructional modifications based on the particular “glue” that is holding a student (or you) together on a given day.
  • “Perfect is the enemy of good.” When it comes to ed tech, I sometimes feel that teachers think that they have to use it perfectly on the first try. And that if they don’t use the tool “perfectly” on the first try, then they just won’t use it at all. My personal corollary to this one is “Doing something is better than doing nothing”even though I might *intend* to get to yoga 3 or 4 times a weeks, I know I feel better if I make it only once a week. So I like to encourage our teachers, especially in the area of my favorite subject, digital citizenship, that taking even a small, imperfect step is much better than not doing anything at all. Ignoring the necessity of #digcit instruction altogether is just not good for anyone. I encourage you to try something new and innovative in your classroom this week – even if it doesn’t come out on the first try exactly the way you had imagined it.
  • “Nothing is good for everyone all the time.” We talk to teachers all the time about why specific technology tools are not written in to our curriculum. There is an art to selecting the best instructional strategy for a particular learning goal and set of learners, and this is perhaps especially true in the area of educational technology. The best tech tool for one teacher and his or her learners is dependent on many factors: What devices are available in that classroom? How comfortable with technology is the teacher? What is that particular group of learners like; could they handle more independent tasks or do they need more instruction? (Pro tip: those “digital natives” do NOT automatically know how to get the most out of every technology tool that comes their way, the first time they see it.)We try our best to help our teachers think through these questions as they consider ed tech implementation in their classrooms. We customize our recommendations so that teachers can join the ed tech conversation at any point where they are comfortable. We give lots of options for modifications if teachers aren’t ready for a more challenging technology. We stress that just because their neighbor across the hall is using a particular tool, that doesn’t mean that a) it’s being used appropriately and b) that’s the best tool in every situation. Teachers (and yogis) are different and are at different stages of learning. So if you are one of those teachers who compare themselves to others, remember that sometimes you need to close your eyes and mind your own mat.

This week as you go about your teaching, consider some of these lessons from yoga: start where you are, work with others, stretch yourself a little, strive for balance, and don’t forget to breathe! And above all, remember that we all have baggage, so be sure to save room for those who seem especially laden down.

Fondly,

Nancy

P.S. Shoutout to my favorite yoga studio, The Mat. If you’re in the North Dallas area and are looking for a yoga home, The Mat might be just the place for you!