‘Who is your target audience?’
I have been asked this several times in reference to my reflective postings. Mostly it is related to my podcast Chasing Squirrels. And the question lands on many different spaces for me.
Admittedly, the term ‘audience’ rattles me a bit.
Contemplative, I push back with rhetoric.
I can’t help it.
What is an audience? I rather think of us as co-learners, actually.
Where is my audience? Seems more interesting and vibrant.
When the audience is engaged, what then? I like this ambiguity, change happens here.
Why is there an audience? Pokes at bigger broader themes in EDU.
How did I get an audience? May reveal a new communication fluency.
In my reflective practice, I rarely think of or for the audience.
Most times the process of working through my thoughts is singularly structured . Focus on capturing my random. Tether the ideas to a form. Acknowledge it outside my brain. And then I move on.
This happens semi-automatically.
There is a fraction of this process that makes it to a public post. In much the same way, a fraction of my thoughts make it out of my mouth into conversation.
This happens intentionally.
I choose to engage in these conversation spaces, so my OS is constantly updating itself.
Because it is good digi-cit practice to post-positive.
Also because it is impossible to ignore the waves of challenges for professional existence in social media learning spaces. Ignorance, of the fine print that is buried surreptitiously in both digital social spaces or actual governing bodies is an error that can be devastating.
This has not happened yet.
The cathartic release of cognitive pressure sometimes results in pieces I like, other times not so much. But what I dislike, usually falls by my own sword of distraction. I didn’t focus, or capture, or tether very well.
I have never really accounted for where my posts may land, nor set them intentionally adrift through social media currents with the absolute expectation of a reply.
That’s not how conversation works for me.
If there is a question implicit or otherwise in my pieces, I am not always aware of its clarity. Despite the fact that some of my sentences end in a question mark.
In some ways, when I do get a message back, I am shaken from my process with happy astonishment. Cool … time to explore this idea further. Surprise!
Some may say that this type of broadcasting is too singular and I would agree in part. I think that reflective practice or contemplative learning is by nature, a solo mission. I would further posit that it needs to be. In this focussed space I become aware of the space between my thoughts and my actions.
This buffer is necessary.
This buffer is intentional.
I have been on the receiving end of reflective pieces that are targeted at me. Or someone like me. Either way, I move on quickly.
The brands that formulate these pieces are legion. That drive to distinguish a single voice, from the multitude of options, is obvious and sometimes brow beating.
That’s not me.
That’s not a learning space for me.
Finally, I guess I do wonder…
‘Who is the target audience focussed on?‘
While they read my thoughts?
On Wednesday October 4th, I shared the story of the program I co-facilitate with @pamsheena, the kids that I support, and the context of challenge that wraps around the work.
In the room were members of the EdCan Network, comprised of EDU upper leadership from across Canada – directors, superintendents, and corporate heads listened as I unfolded my lived experience from the classroom.
Here’s the link to the audio.
Hello teacher candidate. I have been thinking a lot about you this week.
To be honest, I think about you often in the last month of school. There is something about the energy at the end of the year that makes me nostalgic. I think about do overs and do no mores and new beginnings.
I have seen you once or twice in the hallways, staff meetings and meant to connect with you. See how you’re doing. Whatcha up to?
But, I’m going one way; you the other.
Each with some pressing task to complete.
Now with the summer upon us, I really do wish that I had made a greater effort to make time with you. Just to sit for a bit, share resources, trade stories. Relate.
I feel lousy that I looked busy, because I’m not really sure that I was.
Sometimes I was just ‘hustlin with paper in hand’. Not really in the moment. Not really minding the gaps. In automatic transition.
We all have stuff to do, yet at the end of the year I wonder is it always the right stuff.
Besides wrapping up this school year; the reports, the clean up, the archiving. I also start to lean forward into the next school year. So many possibilities, so little time to map out a reasonable plan. And I suspect that September will arrive, like always, in the same Navy Seal sneak attack pandemonium that it does every year. I emphasize LIKE IT DOES EVERY YEAR.
Blindly, I fall into the overplanning trap every summer. And I am tripping into the trapline every June. So, in September, I have a whole lot of stuff that may or may not be en pointe because my planning has not met my students yet.
So, unofficially my summer will be spent imagining new paths, resting, relaxing, getting bored, and still trying to get life stuff done.
What are you up to?
Degree, done. Faculty of Ed, done. 60 days from now you will have officially arrived – an occasional, part time, or full time teacher.
What are you feeling?
My dad once told me that 1 year of workworld equals 10 in school. In his view, textbooks and lectures got you to the door with a random set of keys. Too many to count, too little time to examine them all.
You may have felt this reality in one or both of your practicums.
He riffed on this idea whenever he was involved in hiring new team members. Other times, it was when he was nostalgically accounting for his humble beginnings with the bank.
I started with the bank, in the mailroom, right out of highschool … now I hire business graduates to do the same job.
Pete Cluff – on job competitiveness
When he reflected on the value of experiential learning to his success he accepted open mindset in its fullest form. And I hve come to appreciate the power of taking risks because of it.
I often said yes before I fully understood what I was getting into.
Pete Cluff – on risk
My dad upgraded or upskilled with surgical precision. His continued learning and growth mindset, was the edge he had on his competition. And he always knew the where and what of the next wave of change because he was generally standing in water chest deep, watching the white caps forming in the distance.
This approach served him well. He choked on a wave or two, but somehow managed to swim with sharks throughout his career. This brings to mind the vastness of the invisible bits in teaching. Some just below the surface, though not necessarily sharklike, can still surprise and nip.
Had I sat with you, I would have shared a word or two about wellness, and mindfulness, and community. All are powerful repellants for EDU bugbites. All are bits of me that only connect over lunch time chats and coffee runs to Tim Horton’s. These micro structures build immense internal supports in my EDU world and could for you too.
I really wish I had shared them with you.
For now, I leave you with this.
Tina Zita @tina_zita posted a great question about teacher leadership on her FlipBoard https://flipgrid.com/ead74d and in my response I proposed that leadership means openly and obviously stepping into uncomfortable spaces, learning on the fly to fly, and maybe even supporting others in the process when you are not completely sure of the destination.
I plan to take my own advice and meet you in September.
I challenge you to do the same.
I have not engaged with big picture EDU in a responsive and responsible manner.
And to get global in my pedagogy, I will ned a mentor.
I became aware of the U.N.’s Global Goals back in September. I thought connecting a newly formed TED-Ed Club with these elements would be awesome. Somewhere between merging constant connection with global connectedness, I let the goals fall to the wayside.
Seemed like a big bold leap to get the kids inspired in their TED-Ed thinking. And it would have been great. The problem was, well, me.
I didn’t do my homework. I didn’t have a depth in delivery. I couldn’t see the necessary bread crumbs to bring the big picture within reach of the students.
In short, I did not prepare well.
And I did not return to them.
The principle goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done. — Jean Piaget, 1896-1980, Swiss developmental psychologist, philosopher
In my head and heart, I know that I want to move my conversations in EDU to a larger scale. I also crave to bring more of that world into the classroom. But I am unsure of what to ask, or who to ask.
So far, I have had several frustrating episodes of surprisingly paradoxical disconnection with my PLN. This is the irony of a bigger silo I guess, where the questions I was pursuing could not be answered with my current set of resources.
There are plenty of challenges in my board that need attention. But the bulk of the heavy lifting can be done locally with the resources available. For now, I feel like I should spend time reconnecting global goals with my local pedagogy. Look at bigger and broader challenges. The kinda challenges that are beyond my silo.
My learning spaces need [re]consideration.
In a previous life I would have sat through a two hour PD session, then probably bemoaned my aching back afterward.
from Make Space – Doorley & Witthoft
I also probably would have, in some way, evaluated the quality of the PD by how my head and body felt afterward.
Then I would have been judgy, that somehow the overall quality of PD needs to be changed, personalized, or updated.
All of these positions are flawed. All passive-aggressively critique from the sidelines. And all of these are completely alien to my personal pursuit of professional development.
The professional development moments that I have chased on my own this year have been intrinsically motivated. And the awesome I found is always pretty much smorgasbordian.
But that is me driving the bus.
I learned when and where according to best fit. I found my why and often many other people’s why as well. And in doing so, I feel like my expanded and supported views of EDU equally helped me to help others as for myself.
When I reflect on the learning spaces that I have created for my students, I’m feeling underwhelmed.
I really do believe that all learning is personalizable. Up to now, that meant how the curriculum is approached, rarely have I explored the positive impact this could have on learning spaces. Going into 2017-18, I will be rocking the phrase ‘nothing’s precious‘ -striving to shift through my comfort zone to see the unintentional outcomes of weak learning space design and push forward with as many student-centered design decisions as possible.