How the hell do you get people to dance?

Constant readers of this blog (both of you!) will recall that Jenn shared the "Where the Hell is Matt?" video with us in June and it is something that sort of set the theme of the summer for me. It really captured the idea that our world is indeed flat, but even more importantly, we can find joy in the smallest of things.

In my feeds today, I ran across the video below where Matt explains how we got people to dance with him using a presentation method called "Ignite": a five minute presentation using 20 slides, each slide advanced automatically every 15 seconds.

There is a lot that I love about the presentation. First, the style which calls into play some real creativity and use of time (21st century skills if I ever heard them!) Second, it was done at a conference called Gnomedex which sound a little like a techie TED conference. And thirdly, the technology and resources that Matt used to make those incredible videos.

Watching Matt in all of the videos, including this one, makes me smile. Of course, Jenn and I convinced some folks to dance with us this summer as well but in a much more low tech and local way. We'll never share that video outside our community but it makes me smile just as much as Matt. How can you get people to dance with you?

New Beginnings - Part 2

OK - so maybe, just maybe you will find a picture of me under the definition of gullible in the dictionary. But I really did want to believe that the student featured in the last post was genuine - that he created and delivered the speech because he believed. Turns out - he didn't.

But in reading that post and the comments that followed I started to think about what really hit me about that clip. Sure, that kid was a powerful speaker. And yes - it was a great way to start a new school year. But more than that - the message was that we should believe in our students and in each other. Does it really matter that someone else wrote that speech? Does it really matter that he practiced since June to deliver it?

He believed he could do it - he wins contests in public speaking. Somewhere along the way - lots of people did believe in him.

So - if you ignore the nay-sayers out there and the people who say it was a sad display of marketing and get down to the core of the message for educators: Do YOU believe?

Do you walk into your classroom each morning believing in the potential of the students who are sitting there? ALL of them?

Do you believe in your colleagues and their ability to reach and teach - not just their students but each other? ALL of them?

Do you believe in your administration - from principal to superintendent - and their ability to lead your building, your district? ALL of them?

And most importantly- do you believe in yourself? Believe that you make a difference? That what you do matters each and every since day? ALL of them?

And if you don't - why is that? Why aren't you doing something to restore that faith in yourself, your students, your profession? Teaching can be absolutely exhausting. And it can be the most rewarding thing that a person does. I believe in you - why don't you?

New Beginnings

Driving to work this morning and forgetting about the extra 10 minutes that school buses can add to my commute - I passed the many students waiting outside for the bus. Some in new clothes, most with an incredible air of despondency (for the end of summer) and anticipation (for a new school year) and all preparing for a new beginning.

Depending upon where you work - the first day of school for students can have a very different feel from the first day of school for the teachers and staff. The students some how add an extra level of excitement and anticipation for the school year - it somehow isn't real until they arrive. Each year for me was a time to set new goals for myself and my work, to make it that much better for this group of students than it was in previous years. It was about building relationships with my colleagues and trying new things to engage and inspire our students.

Now that I work with teachers more than students - it still has the same feel for me. I can support and encourage their work and be much more objective about the impact they have on their students than they are. Teachers can and do change the world.

This year is an especially difficult year for a district in which I am honored to work two days per week as curriculum coordinator. We lost a student yesterday - an incoming freshman - in a tragic ATV accident. To begin the school year in such a way is difficult. But the teachers and staff and community have pulled together to help students (and each other) through this difficult time. Neighboring districts have also reached out a hand to lend support and a shoulder to lean on. They are not immune to loss - one district ended their school year the same way that we are beginning.

In times of loss, we often wish that we could have one more moment to say a final "I love you" or "I am sorry" or "You mean the world to me." We don't get those moments back but can learn instead to make sure that we say them to others on a regular basis. As schools in our region come to session this week and we all have new beginnings - I think this student from Dallas has said it to those that matter to him. Will you say it to those that matter to you?

Cross posted on Writing Frameworks.