Tag Archives: education

If I Knew Then…

I was pretty stupid my at the beginning of my teaching career.  Not that I don’t occasionally do dumb things now, but I made enormously big mistakes back then that still make me cringe.  One of them was to see parents as adversaries instead of partners.

I particularly remember a conference with a parent during which I gave a recommendation for things that could be done at home to improve the child’s academic performance and behavior.  At one point, I recall the parent looking at me with frustration and disbelief saying, “You don’t have kids of your own, do you?”

I think I redirected the conversation or ignored the question.  But inside I was thinking, “No, but I have a college education and a masters degree, so I’m pretty sure I know what I’m doing!”

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

After I became a parent, I realized what a condescending idiot I had been.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think that childless teachers are incapable of being great teachers.

I do think that condescending know-it-alls can’t be great teachers.

That parent who writes us a nasty e-mail, calls to berate us, or complains to our administrators about us, cares about his or her child.  Presumably, we do too.  So, it’s our responsibility as teachers to build on that common ground. Even if, from our perspective, the parent seems completely uninvolved, that doesn’t mean we are the only ones who care or know what is best for that child.

Now, I often seek the advice of parents.  For example, if a student seems to have trouble focusing in my class, and the parent says they don’t have that problem at home, I will say, “What do you think might be different at home?  What can I do in the classroom to help your child to have that same concentration displayed at home?”

If the situation warrants it, I invite parents to sit in on the class to observe and tell me what might be some changes I could make to help their child succeed.

In my teacher education, I don’t remember being taught how to work with parents, only how to “deal” with them.

It’s easier for me now to empathize with parents because I am one. But empathy doesn’t require that you have the same exact experiences.  You can empathize with someone whose grandparent has died even if that has never happened to you, because you have probably experienced loss and separation from someone you loved before.

Have you been criticized about something into which you put your whole heart and soul?  Then you know what it’s like when parents are told by a teacher about what they should be doing, implying that they are not raising their child correctly.

Have you ever had to listen to someone berating you for mistakes you have made? Perhaps you thought, “Hey, you don’t know the whole story.” That’s how parents feel when they are called into a conference where teachers spit out a bunch of data and never once ask, “What do you think?” or, “How do you feel about your child’s progress?”

I had to find out the hard way that caring about a child is only one factor in helping him or her to be successful.  Another one is to create a strong relationship with the student’s parents.

Teachers may not all have children, but most of us have had parents – and we know what happens when teachers and parents aren’t working together.

Of course, it goes both ways.  If you are a parent reading this article, then you should know that trying to work with a teacher instead of complaining about him or her in front of the student will promise greater success.  A parent who models a lack of respect for the teacher will be encouraging the child to feel the same way.

It’s not always easy.  Negative human emotions can threaten the parent/teacher relationship.  But, to be honest, it is far, far, easier to proactively work on creating strong bonds from the beginning.

Sometimes I think, “Wow, parents respect me so much more now that I have some years of teaching under my belt.”  But then I think, “No, parents respect me more now because I respect them more.”

And I wish I hadn’t wasted so many years figuring that out.

Note: I tried to find an image to use for this post online, but in every one labeled “for noncommercial reuse” it was easy to identify the teacher – the person talking “at” the parents, a subtle reminder of the roles sadly played in many parent/teacher conferences.

 

 

 

English Idioms and Their Meanings

It’s Phun Phriday – and tomorrow is July 4th!  As we celebrate Independence Day, we should remember the rich history of our country and its diverse inhabitants.  We should also remember that not everything we say makes sense to speakers new to the English language!

Illustrator Roisin Hahessy has created a delightful set of posters to help out those who might be confused when we casually say things like, “Hold your horses!”  You can check out the fun series here.

roisinhahessy

Digital Curation Step #4 – Learn a New Code

Okay.  So let’s recap here.  This week we are talking about how to overcome your digital hoarding addiction.  Here’s what has happened so far:

  • Step #1 – Admit You Have a Problem
  • Step #2 – Restore Sanity
  • Step #3 – Examine Your Past Errors (such as thinking one tool would solve all of your problems or thinking another tool won’t help you at all.) My problem was that I couldn’t “Pocket” screen shots b/c they need to have a link.

For Step #4 you are going to learn a new code.  Don’t worry; it’s easy…

IFTTT

IF This, Then That

IFTTT is THE essential tool.  It’s the  Leatherman of the digital world. In brief, it will let you connect practically anything to anything.

I’m not going to spend this whole post shouting out the virtues of IFTTT.  Just go ahead and sign up for a free account and then:

*Note: These steps might be easier to do on a computer than a mobile device.  No worries, though.  You only have to do them once.

  1. Go to “Channels” and search for either iOS Photos or Android Photos.
  2. Click on the appropriate one.  You will need to give information to connect your Photos to IFTTT.
  3. Go back to “Channels” and search for Bitly, and connect that, too (If you did Step #3 yesterday, then you should have a Bit.ly account already.) Connect it.
  4. Go back to “Channels” and search for Pocket.  Connect that one as well.
  5. Next, click on “My Recipes” at the top.
  6. Click on “Create a Recipe.”
  7. Your first recipe will be

IFTTT Recipe #1

Of course, if you have an Android device, choose that instead of iOS. And this, my friends, is how confident I am that you will get IFTTT right away.

I’m not going to show you how to make the recipe. ;)

8.  You aren’t done.  You’ve basically just told IFTTT to make a public hyperlink for any screenshot you take on your mobile device.  Now, you need to tell IFTTT to send the link from Bit.ly to Pocket.

IFTTT #2

Now, you’re done.  I do need to warn you to give IFTTT a little time to rumble through these new recipes.  After about 15 minutes, try taking a screenshot.  Don’t expect it to show up on your Pocket list right away.  It will probably take another 10-15 minutes.

But when it does, you will see how super cool IFTTT is.  From now, every screenshot you take will be added to Pocket for you.

It will look something like this on your Pocket list (you probably won’t have a bulldog in your screenshot, though).

IFTTT Pocket

Now if you’ve followed instructions on these 4 posts, you should have everything streamlining into Pocket, where you can then search, tag, and curate to your heart’s content.

If you want, check out the other Channels on IFTTT.  You can send things to Evernote if you prefer – or even Google Drive.  I’m not claiming my way is the only way to gather info effectively.

It’s just the only way that has preserved my sanity ;)

Digital Curation Step #3 – Examine Past Errors

Click on these links if you missed them: Step #1 and Step #2.

As I mentioned yesterday, I got thrown a curve in my quest to conquer my digital hoarding addiction.  I thought the Pocket app would solve my problems by putting everything I wanted to save from Tweets and other online sources in one searchable list – until I noticed that I wasn’t always given the option to “Send to Pocket.”  It took me awhile to see my error.  If a Tweet didn’t have a link, I couldn’t send it to Pocket.

Now, I know there are other ways to save things.  I could, for example, take a screen shot.  But that would mean I wouldn’t have everything in one place – which is critical for me.

So, I did a bit more research and discovered a possible “workaround.”  What if I could take a screen shot, and automatically give it a link?  Then Pocket would accept it.  But that would still require me having to find the link and send it to Pocket :(

Unless…

Ah ha! I found a workaround for the workaround!  Perfect!

Now, you’re going to have to have a little faith here.  For Step #3, I’m going to tell you to create a Bit.ly account.  Don’t worry.  Like Pocket, Bit.ly is also free.  Perhaps you already have a Bit.ly account, and you are wondering how  in the world this is going to help streamline your digital curation.

That will be revealed tomorrow in Step #4 – learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior or, for short, learning a new code ;)

Bit.ly

Digital Curation Step #2 – Restore Sanity

So, in yesterday’s post, I admitted that I have a digital hoarding problem that is way out of control. Think of it as storing the food in your pantry all over the house and then trying to remember where you hid the marshmallows.

I decided to undertake the task of creating a more streamlined process for saving the great articles and ideas I collect from all over the web.  You can see the criteria in my last post.

Step #1 was admitting I have a problem.  Step #2 was to restore my sanity by looking for someone who knows more than me – which is pretty much anyone on the internet.

I Googled “digital content curation” and found tons of advice. Unfortunately, most of it was for marketing purposes.  However, I found many articles about using “Pocket” as a read-later utility.  It is available as an app and/or bookmarklet for any device.  You can find more information here.

With Pocket, I can save an awesome Tweet on my iPhone by tapping on the three circles at the bottom of a Tweet and choosing to “Send to Pocket.”  I can also do this on the browser and Flipboard.   (The Pocket website gives you easy-peasy directions for connecting other apps to Pocket.)  If I am on my home computer, I can do the same by using the Pocket bookmarklet in my Chrome browser.

Whenever I want to see what I’ve saved, I can look at my Pocket app on my mobile devices or my computer.  This is what part of my Pocket list currently looks like:

Pocket List

Note that there is a Search function in the top right (magnifying glass) so I can look for anything I saved if I remember a key word from the title or the source.  On computers, you can tag items as you save them – or even afterwards.  Unfortunately, you can’t do this on mobile devices.  However, I can go back and tag entries later if I want.

I also like that I can click on any entry that came from Twitter and see the original Tweet.  This allows me to give credit to the person who shared it.

Now, my sanity has been restored.  Everything goes to one place.

However…

there was one little sticking point with Pocket that was bothering me.

Pocket only saves links.  So, if a Tweet does not include a link I can’t save it.  This is a problem.  Often people will say great things or include pictures that I want to refer to later.  Without a link, Pocket is useless.

This problem threatened to throw my sanity back out of whack – but I decided to go to my “higher power” one more time and see what the internet advised me.

I found a “workaround” that fixed this problem.  It adds a little work to the back end initially but will stay true to my “no more than 2 steps” criteria once I lay the groundwork.

Interested?

Read tomorrow’s post for how I examined my past errors to arrive at a solution for my digital hoarding addiction!

Digital Curation Step #1 – Admit You Are a Hoarder

I’ve Scooped, Flipped, Bookmarked, Pinned, and Evernoted. My favorite hobby is collecting information.  In fact, I can pretty much brag that I am GREAT at searching for information and saving it.  The problem is that I am not good at remembering where I saved it.

“Did I save that article in Flipboard or on one of my Google Sheets?  No, I think I Pinned it,” I mumble. Often.

After I spent 20 minutes looking for an article that I knew I had saved on whether or not I am more like Sherlock Holmes or John Watson (Sherlock Holmes, surprisingly), and realizing I could have found it in 3 seconds by using Google, I had to admit I had a problem.

I am a digital hoarder.

I decided to spend this summer looking for a way to streamline the digital content I collect.  Here is my criteria:

  • One place to store everything
  • Accessible on any device and in any web browser, Twitter, Flipboard and other places from which I gather info
  • No more than 2 steps to save
  • Taggable
  • Searchable
  • Maintains the source information (especially if obtained on Twitter)
  • Free
  • Unlimited Storage

It may seem a bit counterintuitive, but I actually found a way to hoard more information – yet become more organized.

I’ll explain more in Step #2 tomorrow.

In the meantime, go ahead and feel free to join the Digital Hoarders Anonymous Program.  The first step – admit you have a problem ;)

image by Grap from Wikimedia
The perfect metaphor for my digital curation before I entered my own Step Program. ~image by Grap from Wikimedia

 

 

 

Hola Llamigo

Today’s Phun Phriday post is an adorable video that I found on Kuriositas.  Hola Llamigo is a creative and fun animated short about a young boy who lives on a pinata farm.  Watch the video to see what happens when his favorite pinata is in danger of being sold.

Screen shot from Hola Llamigo
Screen shot from Hola Llamigo, a short film by Charlie Parisi and Christina Chang