- Barriers to Learning
The system of education has become very focused on measuring learners – What is your IQ? How fast do you read? Can you memorize 50 new facts? With the focus on how ‘smart’ a learner is, they system looses the ability to understand where their interests, passions and talent really lie. Unfortunately, learners are aware of this misplaced focus and quickly learn to play the game (system) rather than expanding their own interests. They loose their built in engagement, motivation and love for learning that is almost uniquely their own.
I wonder…while recognizing the need for data to understand learning and to drive learning, how do we keep that need from becoming the end game of learning?
See the full TEDxTalk at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5ap9xe8Lrc
- Living in the Question
Children are experts at asking questions – any adult who has spent a long period of time with young children can give a thousand examples of their endless curiosity, variety, randomness and sometimes pure genius of the questions they ask. That natural curiosity and focus on the “why” removes the concept of implausible from their world – they believe anything is possible. Kids are born to live in the question. Educators can leverage their passion and keep them asking questions by asking good questions and not jumping immediately to deliver the answer. The hope we have for the K-12 experience is that the curiosity to know remains alive and well in each student’s soul.
I wonder how we can work together to create a learning culture designed to encourage the asking of good questions versus force-feeding the answer?
See the full TEDxTalk at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5ap9xe8Lrc
- The Pendulum of Engagement
Have you ever learned something new that you would have never thought you would be interested in? Many of the skills needed in college and career are ones that you wouldn’t necessarily seek out yourself – they are so engaging because the need is real, immediate and relevant to solving a problem or answering a question. Engagement has the ability to supercharge a learning situation – to move them from inquiry to investigation, from interest to action. Engagement ignites the student’s hope of knowing, and powers the pendulum of their desire to know. Yet in some cases, the lack of engagement in schools has stilled the pendulum of learning in our kids. Our hope is that the stilled pendulum that is within each child is tapped gently and put back into motion through engagement.
I wonder, what are some methods we could use that would re-start or accelerate that pendulum of engagement?
See the full TEDxTalk at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5ap9xe8Lrc
You entered the educational field for many reasons. Maybe you are passionate about working with children. Perhaps a great teacher inspired you. Maybe you want to influence the next generation of leaders. Whatever your motivation, you focus on your craft, your skill and your profession. You don’t likely focus on your reputation.
Your reputation is what others think of you. As you interact with fellow educators, students, parents, administrators, your community and other colleagues, they form perceptions of you (your reputation) that impact the value they assign you. That reputation can have a significant correlation to whether or not others want to engage you in the kinds of opportunities and activities you are looking to be involved in.
Perception is reality in the minds of your parents, students, prospects, colleagues, and other stakeholders. Managing and directing that perception and building your legacy could be the most critical tool in your professional tool bag.
What is personal branding?
In my book, “Reputation 360: Creating power through personal branding” I offer this definition:
A brand needs to represent a set of values, promises and expectations and meet those expectations at nearly every step. Branding gives experience to something intangible; it gives names to the qualities I feel when I work or interact with you.
Everyone has a personal brand. It is your reputation and what others use to assign value and relevance to you. A brand is an emotional connection you have with others, and it sets the expectation of an experience of working with you.
Personal branding starts with you
Personal branding begins by understanding what you are passionate about, what you value and how you live an authentic life – what sets you apart?
As you begin to define and build your personal brand, look inside first. Ask yourself:
- Do people around me feel I am someone who can be trusted with confidential information?
- Do my students feel heard and respected?
- Do my actions match my words?
- What makes me different than other educators?
- Am I surrounding myself with colleagues who hold the same values I do?
- Am I living in concert with my beliefs?
Understand the needs of your audience
It is critical that you understand to whom you are positioning your personal brand: your target audience. Your audience holds the opportunities you desire, such as a career promotion or the opportunity to teach at desired institutions. Targeting those audiences and stakeholders who will find you relevant is critical, cuts down on your branding efforts, and makes your “self-promotion” feel more focused.
Create a powerful reputation
It may feel awkward to approach your interactions (in person and online) as part of a reputation strategy. Educators are often not sidetracked with self-promotion. The goal of personal branding is not to brag about yourself but rather to become very intentional about the words you choose, the company you keep and the way you represent yourself to your target audience.
Your reputation… online
Today it seems everyone has a Facebook page, Google+ and Twitter account, LinkedIn profile and he or she blogs incessantly. Should you?
For most of us, social networking plays an important role in building our reputation. Today’s social networking platforms offer the ability to connect with colleagues, parents, thought leaders and other influencers in the profession, to research, collaborate and grow our visibility.
In every action you take online (from posting an update on LinkedIn, to participating in a group on Facebook, to posting a YouTube video explaining a complex algebraic theory your class is struggling with), consider how others will perceive you. Become intentional about the words you choose, the way you communicate and engage others, and how you represent yourself consistently with your values.
Build a strategy for social networking:
In choosing to engage with your current and prospective audiences online, consider these points first:
- Apply strategy to your efforts. If you just want to get online and play around, you could damage to your personal and professional reputation – your brand – which is your most precious asset. Create a strategy for how you will engage, where you will become active and how you will measure success from your online activities.
- Articulate your value proposition. Educators entering social media need to be clear on what they offer that makes them stand out. What do you offer that makes you unique in your topic. What makes you different from your colleagues?
- Be careful. The way you represent you and behave online is public. What you post, share and comment on is public domain if posted in an online forum. Consider who might see your content and what that content will make them feel and believe to be true about you and your expertise, values and reputation. Students, parents, administrators and legislators can all see how you interact online.
- Focus on consistency. Educators with strong personal brands show up consistently and authentically. They have achieved genuineness through confidence and experience and through focus and care. Your online contacts expect you to use the same language, tone, posturing and attitude. Across any of the platforms you choose, strive for consistency: be sure to speak, write and represent yourself as the same person I’d meet in the flesh. There is no such thing as “personal vs. professional” since everything online is public.
- Focus on relationships. Social networking is all about interacting and forming relationships – professional, personal, and cause-related. Online, we give and take, collaborate, share and discuss; this is what makes the online forum rich and inviting.
- Know your audience. Spend the time understanding who and where your target audiences are online. Are they students, fellow educators, legislators and policy makers, parents? How do they engage with each other online? Learn as much as you can before you dive in. Also, learn about your institution’s policies for online activity.
- Listen. Your friends, students, parents and colleagues are talking online. They are sharing valuable information about their needs, likes and dislikes. Spend the time to listen and respond appropriately and authentically.
- Decide what to say. Not every educator needs to have a pithy blog to be relevant online. Everyone has something to say and there are many forums to offer input, advice, sharing, awareness and best practices. From LinkedIn Groups, to Google+ and Facebook fan pages, to blogs and community sites like Know New Ideas, there are many places to chime in and connect with others.
- Get started. Most individuals don’t know where to start with social networking. My advice is to begin by taking inventory of 1. Who you are, 2. Who might care, 3. Where they are, and 4. How you can reach them (using social media).
When building your personal brand – your digital legacy – you control much of the perception others will have of you. As you approach your behavior and interactions with strategy and intention, others begin to recognize your value and relevancy.
Lida Citroën is an international branding and reputation management specialist who enhances the identities of companies, executives and individuals globally. As principal and founder of LIDA360, LLC, she practices an integrated approach to branding, marketing and communications that enhances the total experience and reduces the investment for success.
An accomplished speaker, Lida engages audiences with her empowering message about managing your personal brand and reputation. Lida presents programs for school districts, corporations for non-profit organizations around the U.S. Lida is the author of Reputation 360: Creating Power Through Personal Branding, (Palisades Publishing, 2011) is a best-selling guide to gaining competitive advantage through reputation management.
As a teacher, I was always concerned about time. How much time do I have to cover a topic?
How much material can I cover in one quarter or one school year? What if I run out of time to get it all done?
What if TIME isn’t the core issue? What if the problem was HOW I was spending my time? What if it was about how I was LEVERAGING the time I had with the learners? What if I could be more effective using new resources and tools so that I could make the time in my classroom more meaningful and more about learning?
Now that I have had the time to reflect on my teaching, I can see that the concern about having enough time was misguided. It is a popular myth that coverage of more material by an educator means they are more effective – if you aren’t keeping up with the pacing guide or other teachers in your grade level then you are clearly not doing something right, right? The Common Core State Standards should help in correcting that approach, helping me to get past the need to get through the materials and focus instead on getting important and deep concepts mastered by all the learners. What I have also learned is that the time I had is directly impacted by the types and effectiveness of the resources I used to help me accomplish my instruction. It is easier to decide what resources to spend valuable time with using some general guiding principals:
#1: I can create an environment rich with learning opportunities and approaches that put my students first by simply providing engaging and flexible resources – thus freeing up time to teach. As I look at the time I spent preparing lessons, finding resources to reteach, getting different assessment ideas, and even helping my students stay out of resources that were not relevant to what they were working on I was shocked at how little I had left for actually helping them learn. But, when I focused my energies on providing resources that could take some of the ‘overview’ or ‘introduction’ work for me with different topics, I was able to bake that time I saved back into classroom instruction with individual students.
#2: The more efficient and intuitive a resource is for me as a teacher, the more productive I am. The more productive I am in the planning and managing of instruction the more effective I can be with my students because I have changed the focus of my work from gathering and multi-tasking to tasks centered on creating understanding with my learners.
#3: If resources, like netTrekker, are more intuitive for my students, then I give them the ability to drive their own learning experiences. Streamlining searching for materials, making multiple formats of resources easily accessible, offering organization tools for students to save and share resources and even giving students assistive functions that will help them connect to the material in ways that increase comprehension all make students more capable of helping themselves learn and problem solve when they encounter challenges or don’t understand materials.
So, isn’t it about time I start utilizing all the amazing ways to save time and be more efficient with my time?
How do you know when the vision of personalized learning is advancing? Well, believe it or not, recent news coverage in USA Today and eSchoolNews about Autism is one indication. At this point, you might be saying, “Huh, not sure I follow you.” It’s not that anyone’s excited about the increase in Autism diagnosis rates – not at all. But as you dig deeper, you find greater public awareness for children with unique learning needs, an increased sophistication in the diagnostic methods for identification of unique learning needs, a strong desire to discover the neurobiology nuances that serve as contributing factors, and creative solutions that focus on the child’s unique learning needs. All of these are solid, common threads within learning science research that help us identify the unique needs of each child and increase our sophistication with personalizing learning.
I have some firsthand experience with this. My oldest son was formally diagnosed by the TEACCH program in North Carolina when he was four. In fact, we noticed unique traits in him when he was only a few months old. Most parents are left in the dark because of a lack of awareness and sensitivity to those unique traits. Parents don’t know enough to trust their instincts, and often their family members and even their pediatricians downplay their concerns because of a lack of awareness. You’re told “not to worry about it”, “Kids develop at different rates”, and “He’ll be fine; let’s just wait until the next visit.” Fortunately for my wife and me, we had family members and a pediatrician with an awareness and sensitivity to signs of Autism and encouraged us to seek formal diagnosis. Even more fortunately, our son is thriving in school because of the personalized learning approaches he’s received over the past ten years. So I know, firsthand, the benefits of identifying the unique learning needs of a child and personalizing his learning to maximize his growth. That’s why I’m encouraged by the attention given to Autism. I see the possibilities. I foresee how this attention and the success of Autism research will spill over into an increased desire to personalize learning for every child, regardless of his unique needs.