Tuesday, December 28, 2021

What if We Designed with Only the Necessities?

This post was originally published on 12.03.21 in a part of a newsletter sent to teachers in the district I serve. 


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Continuing with our last two newsletters and simplifying things so you can get to more of the good stuff, what if we designed with only the necessities?

A 344 square foot apartment was remodeled. It has only what is needed.

NEVER TOO SMALL Paris Architect’s Micro Apartment - 31sqm/344sqft

What are you leaving out to help with simplifying?

How do you know if you’re simplifying enough?

Are you on the right track? To determine this, consult the Most Powerful Flowchart in the Whole World.

Reach out if you need anything or want to collaborate.

May your day be great.

Stay Curious.

Give more than you take.

Try something new.

Matt

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Collaboration is Right in Front of You

This post was originally published on 12.03.21 in a part of a newsletter sent to teachers in the district I serve. 

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A lot of times when I’m out in public I see things like Pareidolia. Sometimes, I seek them out. Other times, they find me. Either way, you’re looking for something that exists within or around something else.

Taking that a step further, when you check out what Jan Vormann is doing with LEGO bricks, you can see the mash up between old and new. The contrast between old bricks and modern plastic. Decay vs. “repairs.” Splashes of color against the mostly plain bricks.

You can also see the blending of two separate art forms. One, older, but providing the structure. One, newer that is filling in the gaps.

I can’t not relate this to education. How the structure of old is still there, but also the new trying to work it’s way in. Filling the gaps. Starting small in little pockets that have fallen or crumbled. Waiting for the old to fall so it can “build” even more.

This also leads to Steve Wheen, the Pothole Gardener. He finds potholes (not normally in the middle of roads) and transforms them into beautiful gardens. See more of his gardening on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/potholegardener or this spiffy little video.

They’re pretty neat. I don’t know what happens when someone steps on them, but you’re probably not supposed to think about things like that.

Anyway, it’s another example of combining two things.

A pothole and a mini-garden.

It’s like they were made for each other like peanut butter and jelly, mac-n-cheese, fries and a Frosty. You get it.

What type of collaboration could you get into with your lessons?

Could you incorporate something from outside of education?

Could you and a colleague work together to create something awesome?

Does something you do in your classroom jive with something another teacher does? Could you WWE Tag Team it?

Take for instance a cat.

These musicians from all over the world collaborated on this piece of music. It’s worth watching all the way through to see all the different artists and instruments.

The Kiffness - Alugalug Cat (International Symphonic Mashup)

If these people started a collab with a cat, I imagine there is something or someone in our district that you could collab with.

Blend stuff together.

Because the world needs more Creators, like you. Yes, you. Go create stuff and Show Your Work.

Reach out if you need anything or want to collaborate.

May your day be great.

Stay Curious.

Give more than you take.

Try something new.

Matt

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The Gap

Note - This post was originally published on 11.11.21 as a part of a newsletter sent to teachers in the district I serve.  



The Gap.

Fight Through it.



It took me at least 5 years to even somewhat feel sort of comfortable in the classroom. Really though, every day is new. So, do we really ever feel comfortable? We’re always experimenting, changing things up, looking to improve, never satisfied, have new standards to implement, have to teach during COVID, no sub shufflin’, and on and on. It’s a daily battle to find your own personal creative voice. And yes, you are a creative.



Do stuff that makes people look longer, think deeper, or even slow down a little bit.

Reach out if you need anything or want to collaborate.

May your day be great.

Stay Curious.

Give more than you take.

Try something new.

Matt

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Rewild Your Attention

This post was originally published on 11.11.21 as a part of a newsletter sent to teachers in the district I serve.  


I came across the above image on Twitter a week or so ago.

It made me think.

First, that there is perhaps some truth to it. Second, it’s probably exaggerated for a wow-factor. Pacman’s mouth should probably be open more. Third, how do we make Pacman’s mouth open wider? and how do we make learning more relevant to students’ lives now and in the future?

Rewild Your Attention

Let’s start by Rewilding Your Attention.

What’s that saying? “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” Or as the cool cats say, “GIGO.” The quality of output is determined by the quality of the input.

We can control the input:

  • What are we reading?

  • What are we watching?

  • Who are we reading from?

  • etc.

I’m guilty of looking for quick fixes or getting stuck on certain authors, but maybe it’s time we find different inspiration: inspiration from others in the trenches doing the dirty work right alongside us.

I asked some of my Five Star colleagues to share some Humans Worth Following that might not be as mainstream or EduFamous. I received some shares, but I’d love for more to be added to the Wakelet collection. Who inspires you?

Humans Worth Following

Maybe it takes, as Seth Godin says, more effort.

  • Expending more effort than most people think is sufficient.

  • This is attention to detail. Care in design. Follow through in customer service. This is an embrace of elegance and wabisabi and the opposite of laziness. This is bringing care (which is rare and precious) to work even if most people would look for a shortcut instead.

  • More effort creates beauty and magic and remarkability.

  • Perfectionism is a false hope and a place to hide.

  • Effort, on the other hand, is our best chance to do work that matters.

But, I know and you know that everyone is tired, effort-ed out, and your plates are full. So, as you go about looking for ways to design lessons, create content, or make school more relevant, toss out the garbage that doesn’t move us forward. Focus your attention and input on the end goal, but zoom into those things that make the most impact. Perhaps less is more?

Rewild Your Attention.

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Monday, December 27, 2021

Your Plates Are Full

This was originally published on 10.05.2021 as part of a newsletter to the teachers in the district I serve.  

Your plates are full.

Shoot, they were full with just the “teaching” stuff you received on your initial trip through the food line.

Add all the other things that you’re navigating and your plate can’t hold them all. It’s like “seconds” were called along with “thirds” and “fourths.” It’d be like a Hobbit eating Fourth Breakfast.

None of the things on top of the pile are bad. They are all more than likely necessary to function in this current state of now. But also, we don’t need a study to know that educators are stressed out. IYKYK. We already know.

So, how do we manage the chaos?

In all honesty, there might not be anything we can remove from our plates and we all know we can only control the controllables.

ʇI ʇ∀ ʞoo˥ no⅄ ʍoH uI ll∀ s,ʇI

While Here’s the Real Learning Loss Caused by COVID is true and we should be looking for ways for students to connect, I don’t think you can abandon everything. So, lets look for small ways that we can save time and energy. There is a section below called “🔆Spotlight: You.” Maybe there is something in there that you have control over to lighten your load? If not, please let me know how I can help look for solutions.

What I do recommend though, is if you add one thing, be sure to take something away.

Perhaps, this is The Chance You’ve Been Waiting For to try something new.

My role - if there is anything I can help you with, please let me know. Want me to come in a teach a tech tool? Want to plan together? Want me to match your standards to a tool? For real. I’m here to help.

Happy World Teacher’s Day today - 10.5.21

Reach out if you need anything or want to collaborate.

May your day be great.

Stay Curious.

Give more than you take.

Try something new.

Matt


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What Are The Stakes?

This was originally posted on 9-1-21 in a newsletter to the teachers in the district I serve. 

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In my mind, I’m always merging athletics and coaching into the classroom. When thinking about an assignment, do your students know what it takes to win and beat the assignment? Coaches come up with game plans and set out to execute them, but do your students know what it takes to win at each particular assignment? What about how will they lose vs the assignment? What are the stakes for not winning at the assignment? Without learning ______ what will happen if you don’t learn it? Students probably need to know the risk and reward for each assignment. See if you get more buy-in from students by providing the stakes for each assignment. If you don’t know the stakes, then what will push you into action?

Reach out if you need anything or want to collaborate.

May your day be great.

Stay Curious.

Give more than you take.

Try something new.

Matt

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Is Your Fear of Loss Bigger Than Your Fear to Gain?

 

This was originally posted on 9-1-2021 in a newsletter to teachers in the district I serve. 

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What once was, the current situation, and the future.

Thinking about all three of those things, I stumbled across this “Embracing the Old and the New” image from a James Clear newsletter. It’s tailored to business, but applicable to what we’re building for the future. Instead of “Brands” in the graphic, switch it to “Classrooms.” How many of the "New Classrooms” would you be able to check off about your own classroom?

Which leads us to: How are you going to move the needle to having more “New Classrooms” checked off? How are you going to “Always Compete” for our students to experience more of the “New Classrooms?”

Is Your Fear of Loss Bigger Than Your Fear to Gain?

Randomly last March, I decided that I was going to be a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. You are probably asking why in the world would anyone do that? Why would anyone want to follow the projected last place team in the league? Well, their AAA team is here in the Indy Indians and it’s cool to see their players grow up and get called up to the Big Leagues. I’ve never really had a team that I loved. As a kid, I liked the Reds, but mainly because they were the closest distance away. I followed the Red Sox during my college years, but that was mainly because I didn’t like the Yankees, They’ll always have a place in my heart because of their 2004 World Series Championship . I’ve loosely followed the Cubs for most of my life, and rode their bandwagon hard during their 2016 Championship season, but I never really connected with them, probably because of the royal blue color. One of my brothers is a die hard Reds fan. The other one loves the Cubs. Both of their wives like the Cardinals. So, I figured why not stay in the National League Central Division where we can trash-talk and what not and so I decided to jump on the Pirates ship.

So, I went all in. I bought the MLB.TV package because you can’t watch any Pirates games locally. I bought a Pirates hat. I bought a Pirates sign. I bought a Pirates license plate. I watched games. I follow their fandom blogs, podcasts and anything else I can soak up whenever I have the time.

But why?

What was there to gain? At first I didn’t know. There wasn’t much good happening. My fear was people asking, “Why are you following the Pirates?” because I didn’t want to go through the whole story from above.

After thinking deeply, I came to the conclusion that I just wanted to belong to a team that I could follow. I’ve pretty much stopped watching NBA and NCAA Division I basketball. I can’t stand it. So, I watch a lot of EuroLeague games because the style is so much better. But, I just watch without any deep commitment. Following the Pirates felt more like I belonged to a team. I also got some bonus points because their farm system is currently ranked number 4. So maybe in 5 years we’ll (see, I typed “we’ll,” like I’m really a part of them) be in the post season, possibly.

Sorry. I’m rambling. Moral of the story. Take a risk. Jump aboard the ship. Go join a group, team, twitter chat, etc. Live life. Don’t let the fear of striking out, keep you from hitting a home run.

What we fear is loss. The fear of loss keeps up from taking chances. We become comfortable, we choose certainty and predictability instead of new challenges. We don’t want mistakes or negative consequences.

We need Freedom From Fear.

So, I give you permission to try something new. To mess up. To not get it right the first time. To grow. To follow a new team like the Pirates.

How to Overcome Fear

Switzerland Skateboard Run - Yikes. This has me fearful.

Find Your Escape

Reach out if you need anything or want to collaborate.

May your day be great.

Stay Curious.

Give more than you take.

Try something new.

Matt

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Yeah, But You Didn't

 


This was originally posted on 4/16/2021 in a newsletter sent to teachers where I serve. 
Banana taped to wall

Back in 2019 (which feels like about 12-15 years ago now) this piece of artwork, a banana taped to a wall, sold for $120,000.

Why didn’t I duct tape a banana to a wall? It seems simple enough. A banana costs usually under a buck. A roll of duct tape is $5-ish dollars. Both are readily available and more than likely you probably already have them.

Which makes me have a conversation with my imaginary retrospective friend that probably said, “You could have done that.”

I would reply, “I could have.”

Then, my imaginary friend would respond with, “Yeah, but you didn’t.”

He’d be right.

I didn’t.

There are so many things I look back on in my life and think, “yeah, but you didn’t.” Maybe they ended up good in the end? Maybe, bad? Either way, I didn’t try to influence or impact those situations. I just let them be.

Since I didn’t, maybe you can?

We know ILEARN and Finals are happening and all of what that entails, but there’s not much time left during this school year. What can you do during the last month of school to leave a large lasting impression with your students this year? Maybe you’ve wanted to try something new? Maybe you’ve wanted to do a cross curricular project with another teacher? Maybe you’ve wanted to do something that you haven’t done before? Maybe you want to try something that you’d like to implement next year? Maybe you’d like to do something more student-driven because you’re a little exhausted from this year? Maybe you want to scrap what you had planned?

Whatever it is, I encourage you to finish with some flair.

Or at least a couple sparkles. :)

In reality though, please take care of yourself, too. This school year has been tough. Don’t do something just to do something. Don’t do something if it’s going to burn you out. Do it to improve, if you have the time.

Reach out if you need anything or want to collaborate.

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Monday, March 1, 2021

First Delight, Then Instruct

 

Think for a minute about the best learning experience you ever had or the most memorable lesson you taught.
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My guess is that there was some joy in that experience. Were you delighted at any time during that process? Was the joy/delight at the beginning, middle, or end?

For me, I think the best learning I encountered was when I was hooked by something that interested me, or there was something that made me smile right from the get-go.

I also know that sometimes, that joy is going to happen at the end of a lesson or unit. As the learning wrapped up there was finally the “A-ha” moment. Until we got to the end, we were just meddling in the middle to what felt like eternity in my ADD brain.

In one of James Clear’s newsletters, he quoted this guy: Gustav Friedrich Waagen. which can be found in HERE in which he talks about the purpose of an art museum.

How can we hook students in at the beginning? How do we make them smile so that joy seeps into the instruction section? How do we delight students in their educational journey?

Maybe it’s getting out of our comfort zones?

I remember in my early years of teaching when I read “Teach Like a Pirate” and it giving me the “permission” to let my guard down and act silly in class. I can’t even remember the learning objective for the lesson that would happen at the end of the day. I asked the football coach if I could borrow a football helmet and a tackling dummy. I wore the helmet all day long. Obviously, lots of questions came from students. “You’ll have to wait until the end of the day to find out.” became my answer to all of them.

In that last class, I tackled the dummy, which was some metaphor for something I was teaching about. The students thought it was funny. Or perhaps, they were laughing at me. :) Either way, they were delighted and hooked. Which then lead right into the lesson. They paid more attention that day than normal and they asked about tomorrow’s plans.

I can remember being fearful of doing something that was not normal, not what most teachers would do, and definitely not by the book. I was most fearful of looking stupid or silly in front of my teaching colleagues. I wondered what they would say about me? Would my “street cred” go down? I decided that their opinion didn’t matter, it was more about the kids, and I didn’t want to be boring, so I went for it.

It was just what the students needed.

May your day be great.

Stay Curious.

Give more than you take.

Matt

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Friday, January 29, 2021

Boozhoo!! What's Your "Workaround Value?"

Boozhoo is an Ojibwe word that is typically used as a greeting. I listened to a video from Eddy Robinson, Indigenous speaker and educator where he explained how the Anishinaabe way of knowing is to announce themselves to the universe when they meet someone. It identifies who they are and where they are from. Typically that greeting starts with the word Boozhoo. He says that it also means “I’m going to learn from you, and you can learn from me. I’m going to respect you and you can respect me.”

How different would the world be if we approached everyone with “boozhoo,” or “I am going to learn from you, and you are going to learn from me”?

I’ve been writing in my pocket notebook my thoughts, ideas, sketches, brainstorms, and randomness throughout the day and night. So, in honor of Boozhoo, I thought I’d share something I created from an Austin Kleon video about how to pay attention.


I've been trying to capture my thoughts more. 



As I have been jotting my thoughts down more, I heard this quote from Michael Bungay Stanier which came from the Year of Living Brilliantly. (Oh, the Eddy Robinson Boozhoo video and the Austin Kleon pocket notebook video came from there, too).

“It’s not what you know that makes you smart. It’s the connections you make between the things that you know. It’s the connections you make between A + B + C that sets you up for success.” MBS

Which then brought me to the idea of something I’ll coin as “Workaround Value.” How many times does our first idea not work? or our 2nd? or 3rd? How many times are we in a classroom and the internet doesn’t work, the website is now blocked, 3 kids don’t have their Chromebooks, the projector is only showing 1/3 of the screen, In the middle of a test, the class lizard escaped and is now running up the wall which caused you to spill your coffee! etc. etc.

Teachers are so resilient. They’ll find so many ways to find a workaround. But I think those work arounds come from all those connections you make between your processes, your systems, your growth mindset, your life experiences, how many random hours you’ve spent on education related social media pinning/saving/liking all the things, and on and on. A lot of times the solutions are easy. Sometimes, they aren’t.

When you run into a roadblock do you get stuck, or do you start to think about connections that could work to get around it? Have you went down this road before? Is there someone that you know has been there before? Is there something similar that could work? Have you tried to Google it? Or Googled “alternatives to _____,” Did you ask the room or your students for a solution?

The next time something doesn’t go as planned, whether it’s tech-related or life-related, what would your “Workaround Value” be?

May your day be great.

Stay Curious.

Give more than you take.

Boozhoo. What can you learn from me? What can I learn from you? Throw some learning in the comments. 

Matt

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