I Teach Great Humans


0003“Don’t just have the ambition to be a great engineer, have the ambition to be a great human. Wear your empathy as a badge of honor. It will allow you to do your best work.”  David Kelley

Be a great human.  It sounds so simple.  Yet, it says so much.  The world needs more great humans and we can start developing them by bringing empathy back into our schools.  It’s easy to see a Facebook feed full of bad news or a trending hashtag of stuff that we need to fix in our society.  But what’s hard?  Being a great human.  Because there will be exhaustion.  Giving to others.  Service. Hard days. Challenges. Hills to climb. Time to coast.

Next time someone asks you what you teach, you could say, “history,” or “technology,” or even “math.”

Or, you could tell them what you really teach… great humans.



A Whole New View

This has been quite a week.  A week of busy, non-stop, chocked full to-do lists and a week of starting to see some plans come together.  And a week of feeling like the plan was falling apart before it even got started.  I have a typical learning process I follow with new technology.  It’s never really failed me.  I open it’s box or install it, and play.  I explore it, and because I was born a nerd, I get it.  I may not know every single detail, but I understand how to use it.  I self-taught Photography, PhotoShop, Lightroom, Web Design, WordPress, Video Making, and it was all play and learn.  When I don’t know, I Google a tutorial, and it’s always gotten me through.

So this week, when it came time to use new software and it didn’t quite work as I planned, I was um, frustrated.

Had I been naive enough to think figuring it out always works?

Was I not realizing just how complicated the software was because of the number of devices that it was connected to? 

Did I underestimate all the things that could go wrong? 

Was I feeling an enormous amount of pressure I placed on myself because of the number of people I was sure I was letting down in the process?

Did I have some ridiculous idea that if I needed help I was failing?

Yes to all of the above.

And this morning? I woke up and thought to myself, “Is this what a teacher feels when technology is new and it overwhelms them?”  It is.

We are learners and we make mistakes.  We find glitches. We must troubleshoot. But those times when we feel so out of our comfort zone that we just want to shut down, literally shut down, we just can’t.  That’s not an option.

makerology2Next time I help someone learn a new technology, I have a new view. When they want to shut down, it’s not because they don’t care to learn it.  It’s because they care so much, they that they can’t learn it.  And the fear of “can’ts” within are sometimes louder than anything.  Like brain freezing fear.

Technology is just like anything else. Cooking, Oil Painting, Fixing a Car Engine, and Building IKEA Furniture.  Some things come natural to us and some don’t.   So if we are really going to help others learn something, it won’t start with a set of instructions or a training session. It will start with a conversation, empathy, and the time to figure out how to best deliver the help.  Relationships. This might only take a few minutes, but it will be worth more than any of the other time spent.

For the record, I put together 2 IKEA shelves in 10 minutes last week, cooked myself an egg this morning, have oil paints I’ve never used, and would rather stick a pencil in my eye than touch a car engine.  But, technology? I love it.  This week? It was hard.  But you know what?  I have a feeling that I learned something important.  And it really has nothing to do with the software (although I DO think I’ve got it!), but more to do with myself and it’s a whole new view of what I can do to provide support for others.

And you know what? It’s going to be a great year.




Learning Is Hard

I’ve written a million things about the struggle in the learning.  I have watched JFK’s Moon Speech with students.  I’ve even hung posters that said “There is great learning in the struggle.”


Because when it comes to a struggle that I am in the midst of, I hate it.  I despise when I can’t figure something out.  Now, the quiet struggle of finding an answer to building something challenging, I’ll take it.  But the big internal struggle when you are learning things with moving parts and to get the whole thing moving, you must fail. Fail. Try. And fail some more.

And it’s hard.

Not like, ‘ouch I stubbed my toe’ hard.  But like, ‘man, I gotta walk away for a bit and come back to this.’ Like, ‘my brain feels stretched.’ But you’re all in, invested, and you will figure it out.

Whoever said, “Mistakes are proof that you’re trying,” was secretly wishing they’d never make a mistake.  In fact, they probably thought by saying it out loud, they’d feel more comfortable making mistakes.

But, that’s a lie.

Learning, as it turns out, is extremely uncomfortable.  Get over it. Embrace it. Despise it. Laugh at it. Admit it. Talk about it. Talk through it. Move past it.  Learning is hard.  It feels impossible. It’s riddled with mistakes and trials.

But if it wasn’t? It wouldn’t be learning at all.










Why Your Elementary School Needs A Blogging Mascot


IMG_0098 2

Our brilliant librarians have a few cute friends who make appearances through the year and who I personally have enjoyed interactions with.  I still feel terrible about the bacon joke I made in front of Rita the Pig, but she has a great sense of humor.

In teaching what a blog is to younger kids, they’ve often heard the word “blog”, but have little chance to interact with a blog in an authentic way.  Last year, I showed the blog from “Dog with a Blog” and they enjoyed it because many have seen the TV show.  But, still, I wanted to something more personal.  Someone they could relate to, post comments to, and interact with on a more personal level.   Someone whose videos and writings could be what a good blog post is.

Meet Pearl.  Yes, she even has an adorable PreK smock on.  Seriously- just like the kiddos wear.  And now? Pearl’s going to start blogging.  While Pearl is feeling a bit sheepish about joining the blogging world, she’s ready to exercise her voice and model digital citizenship, or what I like to call “global citizenship,” because Pearl is just as kind in person as she is online.  For starters, and what Pearl can help emphasize:

  • She never uses her last name.eh1
  • She never tells the name of her school or home address online.
  • She only shares comments when they are kind, honest, responsible, and respectful.
  • She is hoping she’ll receive comments from around the world, so that our students will understand that a global network means the school, the neighborhood, the world.

Pearls of Wisdom (Thanks for that amazing idea, E.H!) is launching soon to an internet near you.  For now, Pearl is enjoying her last few days of summer lounging by the pool with a good book, The Portait of a Sheep, a book ewe would love.

So, does your school have a mascot that could blog?  Older students could help write the posts, younger students could learn about commenting and interact with the blog.  You could even have a paper version of the blogger that could travel the world to show true global interaction.  The best way to teach our global citizen’s skills is to model for them, and what better way to model them than through a fun blogger that kids will enjoy, written just for them?

Pearl’s hoping she can leave comments for other friends and is going to be building a blog roll.  We hope you’ll join us!