Saturday, March 24, 2012

Stuck in Copyright

A number of years ago, I fell in love with the work of Trey Ratcliff whose HDR photography evokes memory and emotion in ways that are beyond the capability of most artists. It was because of Trey's willingness to embrace the openness of the Web and the Creative Commons, that I was first able to discover his work. In a recent post at Stuck in Customs, Trey encourages artists to 'Stop Complaining about Copyright and Embrace Pinterest'.

Beyond photography, Trey has a spirit and conversational manner that is approachable, passionate, and knowing. If you'd like to discover this for yourself, there is much wisdom scattered throughout the talk he gave at Google last summer. If you have the time, maybe you'll come to understand why I've chosen to keep his work close at hand.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Finding Lessons in Photos and Stories

On short notice, I was invited to speak with a dozen student-teachers who are spending the next few weeks at my school. While I've held court on the topic of 'student success' a few times before, I decided to try reaching this group in a new way.

In the past year, I've been consistent in getting audience members to share personal stories at the outset of workshops and presentations. For this group, the prompt I provided led students to introduce themselves by sharing stories of how they 'overcame or succumbed to key educational challenges'. Through a discussion that ranged both across and around the table, teacher candidates spoke of very personal academic struggles and without intending to, addressed many of topics I was going to introduce.

In addition to introducing topics related to student success, the activity modeled for all, that personal stories are compelling; that getting to know your students is important; that each of us faces up to unanticipated challenges; that remarkable wisdom of learners lies waiting to be uncovered. Rich unanticipated lessons were shared at the outset, because I chose to invite conversation, before launching into a monologue.

The remainder of my Student Success story was told through photos I'd tagged the night before. Instead of using a slidedeck or a handout, my presentation consisted of simply clicking through pre-selected Flickr photos. My lesson was instantly personal, because the images I chose to make my points, were those I had taken myself. Each image had a back-story, followed by a point of information. As a result, the students were learning about me, in addition to attending to a philosophy of education focused on the student experience.

Maybe I'm on a Photo Kick?
There was a time when I first entered 9th grade, that I very badly wanted to join the photography club. As a multi-sport athlete living a 90 minute bus ride from school I was unable to join in. I've loved photography from the time I was a 10 year old playing with what I found to be a truly magical polaroid camera. And now, some 35 years later, I find myself caught up in ny first photo club of sorts. In my second connection to the iPhone Photo Project , I'm reconnecting with Andy Forgrave and others to create and share. Join us if you like.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Which Connections Matter Most?

Over the past week, I've been trying to come to terms why Jabiz Raisdana's recent post, Be More Interesting, resonated so authentically for me. Although many of my colleagues differentiate their relationships depending on whether they take place in virtual spaces or in the physical world, my personal experience tells me that it is the blending of these two worlds that makes for the most meaningful connections of all. Having invested so much time and attention to my own networked learning, I find myself relishing the deepest of these professional learning connections (For more on this idea, see Deeper Connections Matter More).

Multiple interactions over time, when blended with occasional face-to-face meetings, results in a familiarity one might not expect. Now that technology has made it possible for both online and real world conversations to take place face-to-face, ongoing intellectual relationships might grow to be perceived as emotional connections. The more we come to know our online colleagues, the more we come to care about them. In many ways, these relationships of choice are more tantalizing than those relationships we experience by the coincidence of a shared staffroom.

After thinking, sketching, and thinking some more, I created a diagram to help me make sense of the professional learning connections I've made in recent years. Although the actual placement of items on the grid varies depends on many factors, it's clear that my relationships with those I've met face-to-face or voice-to-voice, tend be the deepest both intellectually and emotionally. Online colleagues like Jabiz, challenge me to think more deeply than most, in large part because I can see his gestures and hear his voice when I read his words.

Have we met face to face? If so, does it change the way you read this post? Which professional conversations are most compelling to you? Do your online relationships matter more or less than your relationships with local colleagues? Can you differentiate between those connections you make on the basis of an intellectual connection, and those where you feel emotionally invested?