Archive for category PLN
I have been blessed with a wonderful PLN who challenge me and push me every single day. If you don’t know what a PLN is, it stands for a Personal / Professional Learning Network. For me, it formed about 4 to 5 years ago when I started to use social media and the platform, Twitter, to engage in powerful professional dialogue about education. Being an educator for the past 27 years, I have been in the presence of some great people in the business, first as a music educator and then as a leader of a public school. Once I started using a social media platform such as Twitter, I haven’t looked back.
One of the first tweeps that I followed and who I consider a mentor is my friend Joe Mazza. Though he may not know this, I call him a mentor because he has pushed me to realize the potential that I have within myself. This past weekend, he did a powerful TedxYouth talk in Boston about 10 assumptions he had while growing up and becoming an adult. As noted by my best buddy, friend, mentor and colleague, Lisa Meade, he as well as all of us are on that bumpy journey, that I call life. So in the spirit of Joe, here are some assumptions that I am going to list, in no particular order, other than my number #1!.
1. I thought being diagnosed with breast cancer was a death sentence, It actually woke me up to what is important in life.
2. Crying is a sign of weakness. That’s not true. In my 1/2 hundred years, it is a sign of life, of happiness, of joy, pain and empathy. (And hormones. LOL)
3. I’m not smart enough. That is for sure, but I work my butt off to make good for kids and humans! My mom taught me to look for the good in everyone. (Memory Eternal Flossie!)
4. Friends are the only thing. Nope, have to take my mom’s advice, that friends come and go but my family stays. That’s for sure. My family is #1!
5. Having the next best thing or gadget will give me happiness. My happiness – relationships with humans, my husband (who is my love of life), my family, friends, PLN! They are my happiness!
6. Getting it done FAST is the only way. I am more of a hedgehog. Slow and steady wins the race!
7. That failure is grave and I will be dammed, fired, hurt someone, poor performance. I am learning to overcome this more and more. I found out by sissy, this may be a Vissar trait but the confidence is sure in my sissy #1!
I am sure I have three more in me. But I am procrastinating on other things that I need to get done and there are a few who nudge me to post this, so here it is in all it’s glory.
Thank you Joe Mazza. You are an inspiration and you have touched many with your honesty, empathy and compassion. We are that much better to have you in our midst and in our world. Humbled and honored to know you my friend!
What are your assumptions?
Using Voxer as a tool for professional development really has been a game changer for me in communication, connections, and is helping me form wonderful relationships to grow and enhance my PLN. I have two fabulous book chats that I belong to, one with a groups of 100 educators throughout the world using the book Beyond the Bake Sale (which I will blog about often) and another using Eric Sheninger’s book, Digital Leadership.
It is through the Digital Leadership Voxer group that I met Ashley Hurley. Christina Luce, a NY educator and friend in the Syracuse NY area and I wanted to go to the ISTE conference but couldn’t this year and we were lamenting on the vox thread that we would love to go but it wasn’t in the cards for us. Ashley, in her bright, brillant, creative mind, came up with flattening our images, asked us for permission and used us as a Flat Stanley Project for the conference. I totally couldn’t resist and I knew Christina would be up for it, so we gave her our blessing, and voila, Flat Vicki and Flat Christina were created!
Here is the beauty of social media at it’s best. I haven’t met Ashley as of yet, face-to-face. I can’t wait to cross paths. Too have someone who is so creative to think outside the box and take us “virtually” to an International event says that there is a belief that we are all linked to a common thread, and that is for kids. Thank you Ashley for taking us on your trip. Even though I wasn’t there physically, I was there spiritually and learned so much throughout the tweets! Your the best!
See the Flats on their trip here! Isn’t it great? Enjoy!
I thought I had reached the pinnacle of using social media with embracing Twitter, Google+, Google Hangouts, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, you name it as professional development tools and to create a robust PLN. Folks in my PLN from the southern island part kept saying to me, “Vicki, get the Voxer app. It is cool.” I got it. I “voxed” back and forth with a few folks. To me, it wasn’t much different than the “WhatsApp”. You talk and it relays a message to the person who has the app on their phone or who has it in your contact list.
Well, I was blown away this past weekend. I was driving down to New Jersey, stressed, going from one pressure cooker to another. My buddies and sisterhood, Christina Luce and Lisa Meade were coaching me while I vented first through twitter, then moving to Facebook messenger to make the conversation more private, then to Voxer and then to a scheduled Google Hangout because I had to have a sisterly chat! (There’s something about 24/7 PLN! What a pick-me-up after a stressful day!)
Christina put out a tweet about joining a Voxer book chat on Eric Sheninger’s awesome book, Digital Leadership. I was already enrolled in the #SatChat book chat on Edmodo, but wanted to give the Voxer this a whirl.
Boy, has it been a whirlwind and an AWESOME tool. Allison Petersen set the group up and we have just been chatting, posting, talking, about the book, change process, and everything under the sun. This past Sunday was the kicker. I heard the “bleep bleep” of my phone going off. It was like a wake-up call, calling me out of my slumber and saying, “Come to VOXER and join the conversation, Vicki!” (Yes, you can silence your phone, but why?) Anyway, Brad Curie started it, and then the conversation just flowed. I am not sure if it was because it was the weekend, or if some of us were on the beach, relaxing, (Not me, mind you) but how fun to get a message and not be limited to 140 characters. You can talk and it will record and send it to the folks in the chat!
I was at my nephew’s baseball game – bleep-bleep-bleep. Someone posted a picture of text and then used the text feature for their thoughts. Bleep-Bleep- Bleep: Someone recorded a short thought about change leadership. ( I posted a picture of route 81 North because I was driving and jealous of folks on the beach or folks out of school. (We have to go to the end of June in New York.) I did put the phone away, because I was getting strange looks from folks around me at the baseball game.
The most powerful thing I am experiencing is the connections, relationships, and the powerful conversations we are sharing over a free tool, and I even got to “meet” new folks who are passionate about education. It’s also the beauty of having a PLN 24/7, from my “New York sisterhood” to the new PLN folks that I have met on Voxer.
It has been a busy few weeks, and this is NOT because of the NYS ELA tests and scoring. This is a positive blog and about meeting some AWESOME folks. I am finally getting a chance to sit down and write it.
It all started Monday, March 30th. I had the opportunity to attend the SAANYS and NYSCATE first Learning Summit, Digital Leadership 101 and Beyond. Best part, it wasn’t FAR for me and my PLN was coming to participate and present. It was great to see this workshop come to Central New York. This area as well as the Northern New York near Watertown, St. Lawrence County, is under represented in digital leadership.
The sessions were great. My friend Tony Sinanis shared with us how he is branding his school, pushing out the positives and having his kids share the stories of the school. How powerful is that. Another takeaway: “Administrators should NOT create roadblocks.” So true! Tony has been a connection in my PLN for almost three years or more. We both agree that social media, especially Twitter, has changed our role as lead learners and has opened up a new world for us!
I love listening to Eric Sheninger, Eric is a true mentor for all of us and has written the book on Digital Leadership. There were many takeaways; one being “Don’t say “I don’t have the time.” Make it happen and make the time to be a connected educator. It was great to listen to Eric speak and confirm the direction I have chosen to take with digital leadership.
I used the program Storify to document the tweets that were posted during this conference here.
(My AWESOME PLN at Ichiban in Liverpool NY)
The gang after the Digital Leadership Conference
My friend Tony Sinanis and me.
The next night brought an opportunity for me to see and hear the great Dianne Ravitch at Syracuse University. After the first day of the NYS ELA exam, Dr. Ravitch gave a lecture to us in the crowd of Central New Yorkers and Upstate New Yorkers. It was everything and more that I believe in. Dr. Ravitch received a standing ovation even before she spoke – a testament to a truly brave individual who has taken the cause and making it a mission to set the record straight for public education and to make sure that we do what is best for our children.
Here are some take away’s: “Our children take more tests the the bar exam.” Dr. Ravitch asked the crowd if we had fun giving the first day of ELA 3-8 exams in NY State. “Reformers promote negative, punitive and failed policies that promote the root causes of low test scores” “Bill Gates supposedly wants fewer teachers to teach more kids. His children go to schools with classrooms with 12-14 students.” “NCLB is a hoax did it leave a child behind?” “NCLB and its ugly stepsister Race to the Top are not bad ideas…they’re hoaxes. So is the Texas Miracle.”
One of the biggest points she touched on is that we, as a nation, have the highest poverty rate with our children in any develop nation. Why aren’t we talking about that? Really, we are focusing on the wrong thing, data and test scores, and not taking care of our children. Read The Shriver Report She gets it and nails the nail on the head. It’s a start. (We all know education starts in the home!)
We connected educators used the hastage #RavitchSU to document the lecture. I also used Storify to document the lecture here.
(Getting Reign of Erro signed by Dr. Ravitch)
Then, to end my whirlwind week of PLN was attending the #CELI14 Saturday conference at Farmingdale Middle School in Long Island, New York. This would be the first time that our #NYEDChat was to be together. There are six of us that host the chat every other Monday at 8:3op.m. and the only co-moderator I met face to face was Tony Sinanis. What a pleasure it was to meet my friends Carol Varsalona, Blanca Duarte, Bill Brennan, Starr Sackstein and to see Tony again.
Dr. Bill Brennan organized this wonderful “un-conference” and it was really a treat to see Long Island educators come out and grown together on a Saturday. You can follow the tweets by searching #CELI14
This truly was a special week and it is so important to build a strong PLN because in the end, it’s about the relationships we foster, whether with adults or our kids, that will make our jobs easier and create a better world for our children. Enjoy the Spring!
The #NYEDChat mods with Billy Krakower
The #NYEDChat moderators at #CELI14
Carol is interviewing Tom Whitby for “NYEDChat
Carol Varsalona and me.
A Google Hang Out with Jerry Blumengarten AKA @cyrbraryman1