Screen shot 2011-07-06 at 8.49.49 PM

You know who you are.

CC licensed photo shared by Flickr user always be cool

So a little bird tweets me that there is some sort of list out and about that has my name on it. Neat-o!

Only, upon further inspection, I examined the list and realized, Hey. Let’s all simmer down here. The fact that my name appears on that list is silliness. I know for a fact there are other edu-tweeters out there that are waaay more influential than me. (And have a significantly higher Klout score, for what it’s worth. (Not much.)) Plenty of fantastic people are represented, from whom I learn an awful lot on a daily basis. But this post is not going to debate who should or shouldn’t be on that list. To do so would give it even more attention than it warrants.

What’s worth recognizing is that the list exists. And why is that? Because someone is paying attention to us. We, as a collective network of educators who care about children and their futures, are sharing with one another on a regular basis and helping to influence our practices in positive ways. People are noticing.

I’m thinking about my network. I can easily name ten people who influenced my practice today. Do I need to publicize it in a list? No.

You know who you are.

This influence is not limited to the intertubes, of course. I’m considering the people who’ve shaped me into the educator I am trying to be today. Most of those people aren’t on Twitter. They don’t blog. They don’t have Facebook accounts, can’t get into Google+ no matter how many invites they receive (thanks for nothing, Google), and they surely were not at ISTE. But their influence, care, compassion, and support have forever changed me. They’re the people that demand I put the phone away when we’re out to dinner. Or at an administrative retreat. (I was taking notes, I swear!)

You know who you are.

Tonight I was all set to compose my post-ISTE reflection post, and it seems as though I am now going to combine both my reflections of that event with my ramblings about online popularity. They’re weirdly related.

Cliques. Clusters. Cadres. Cohorts. Cavorting. Cackling. Keynotes. Abuse of alliteration. Cafes. Conversations. Contempt for Comic Sans. Connected Principals. Some sort of fancy dance. All of this and more, at ISTE 11! Many of the ISTE reflection posts have focused on the power of relationships, the importance of conversations, and the jr.-high-esque social mentalities that can ensue when you bring a whole bunch of people together. #sigh

I’d like to highlight two of my favorite memories from ISTE. First, this: Kids displaying their awesomeness. Like this sharp-dressed young man:

who eloquently explained how his school’s project involved using technology to improve our Earth’s ecology. I listened to his podcast using ear buds that probably 100 other people placed in their ears. And I didn’t really care. He shared his thoughts in carefully dictated English, his second language, mind you. This group had it made. They sent out recruiters – pint-sized bits of adorableness- into the crowds to ask attendees, “Do you want to hear our presentation about technology and ecology?” Heck yes, I do. And then they led me to the booth. Gold.

To the kids who inspire me every day, from those in my first sixth grade class to the children I only briefly interacted with at ISTE: You are amazing. You know who you are.

My second favorite memory of ISTE is Irene from the Newbie Lounge. I wish I had taken a photo of  Irene. She was truly awesome. By no means in her first years on the job (or her first twenty years), Irene sat on the couch with her iPad 2 and called out, “Can you help me with this?” as I walked by, with just a few minutes to go before our Connected Principals panel session. (Thanks, by the way, to everyone who attended. It was slightly overwhelming.) I wanted a bottled water desperately. I glanced at the mile-long concessions line longingly and then thought, What the hell am I thinking? This person needs me. So I sat with Irene for about twenty minutes and walked her through the process of bookmarking a website on her Safari browser. She was truly astounded that whenever she wanted to visit that wiki filled with resources from the last session she attended, she could just go to her bookmarks and … poof! There it was. She was so happy. I was so happy.

Irene, thank you for centering me and helping me realize how much I love being a teacher. I will agree with others that the shared conversations in hallways, cafes, museums, sidewalks, and #Edubros venues were certainly well worth the price of admission. I became a tad bit emotional having to say goodbye to some very good friends on my last day there. Yes, I said it, friends. Real live avatar-people that turned into friends. Shocking! Thank you to the presenters and attendees, young and old, who inspired me at ISTE.

You know who you are.

I guess, that in the end, that’s all that really matters. That you know the positive influences you have on the work and lives of others. I agree with Kristina that many of us felt as though something was missing before we developed this supportive network of professionals via Twitter, blogging, and other media. The connections have certainly added value to our lives.

Yet in a way I also disagree. I am not so sure that something was missing so much as it was lost. Lost inside of each of us. After experiencing powerful learning, working to positively influence others, and doing the right things for kids, every one of us should be able to examine our personal accomplishments and be proud. Be very, very proud. We will make mistakes, falter, and lose our way. We will share ideas and then take too long to act on them. Just pick yourself up, put a plan in place, do something, and continue to be awesome. No list can define our ability to do so. Only you can make that happen.

You know who you are.

35 thoughts on “You know who you are.

  1. Lyn,

    Nicely worded…when I saw that list I chuckled because most of the people on that list are/would be embarrassed to be included in such a list. As with most educators they do their work because they believe in what they do for kids.

    In addition, it is not only that people in our lives know who they are, but they also know “why they do what they do”. Good educators do good work without seeking or wanting recognition. Students growth and success is all we seek and hope for.

    Thanks for the reminder that it is in the little things like a student poster project or a helpless newbie that are truly why we do what we do…not a list!

    1. Hello, Josh, thanks for taking the time to read my rambling thoughts and comment. :) I appreciate the discussions I’ve had with you and other tweeps regarding these topics. I think the people I choose to surround myself with in my “PLN” get it. Great point that we need to keep reiterating the WHYs behind what we do and what we’re sharing. What works for some will not work for all. Education is very personal, but sharing our experiences is certainly meaningful for many.

  2. I love this post. I don’t know anything about a list, but I did attend ISTE. I love your abuse of alliteration! :) And my friend and I were also blown away by those students who were brave enough to stand in front of adults and present!
    I love Twitter, and the connections I have made. But sometimes, I think this whole follower thing makes us forget that in the scheme of things, none of us is better than the other, and we all have something to offer, even children and newbies.

    1. Hi, Lisa, thank you for your comments and reading the post. I agree that everyone absolutely has something to offer. The beauty of forming and nurturing your own learning network is that you can find the value in the people, events, and resources that best meet your needs and the needs of your students!

  3. Beautifully said, Lyn. I am speechless and I know this post will touch people where it matters most: the heart. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Joan, thanks for commenting. Was a pleasure meeting you! Hope to see you again in the future, and I know we’ll continue to stay connected! :)

  4. Lyn,
    Thanks for stating what we all should know. Just like the kids that we teach each one of us is unique with much to share.
    Personally, for me, the poster sessions with the kids is always the highlight of my ISTE experience.

    1. JoAnn, thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts here. I really enjoyed seeing the accomplishments of so many students on display at ISTE. How lucky we are to be able to surround ourselves with such talented young people each and every day!

  5. Lyn I so agree! It is so easy to get caught up in all that “stuff”;. I have learned that it takes time and commitment to focus on what is important, and I am reminded of the Tolstoy story The three Questions: What is the best time, Who is the most important one, and what is the most important thing to do? Your post emphasizes this message: the time is now, the most important person is the one you are with at the moment, and the most important thing to do is to do what is right. Happy summer, my friend,
    Cathy

    1. Cathy, thank you for your comments! It was great seeing you again at ISTE. I appreciate your reference to the three questions! So important to focus on those in our present. Enjoy your summer as well!

    1. Thanks for that link, Susan. It was a great read. So many of us struggle with how our sharing is perceived. I think as long as we stay true to the fact that we enjoy blogging, reflecting, tweeting, because it helps us reflect upon our practice and strengthen our work for kids, we’ll be able to look past any nonsense that arises and carry on!

  6. Hi Lyn,
    As usual, your words are elegant and wise. Your comments about “the list” were right on. You should be excited to be on that list, but you are right – the fact that there even is a list is significant in that it shows that our network is strong and that people are at some level paying attention.

    Your sentiments about feeling lost really hit home. I know that prior to July 2009 when I made the deliberate decision to be more visible that I was lost. Now that I have this incredible network of educators to connect with, I don’t feel that way as much anymore. The big thing I learned at ISTE, both through my little experiment and through the sessions I attended, is that the lines between my professional life and my personal life are more blurred than ever. That, in fact, my personal learning network is my social network.

    Best,

    Tony

    1. Tony, I couldn’t agree more. I think about planning for a personal event like a birthday party or wedding. How many of us think, “Hmm, which of my coworkers would I want to invite to this personal shindig?” Only a few would make the cut. If I was planning a (34th, ugh) birthday party for myself this fall, I’d invite many from my PLN via Twitter, I think. :) The most difficult part would be deciding which city to host it in. :)

  7. Lyn-
    That was a truly wonderful post, and it was inspiring to me 3 reasons.

    1) It was not surpassing at all but nonetheless refreshing to hear from you and others (Vicki Davis in her blog and Kyle Pace on Google+ come to mind) about how little “the list” matters. Not that I ever thought of you or others in my PLN as attention hogs, it’s just that the nature of social media has almost as an underlying theme the notion of self promotion. I mean, built INTO the platform are these sorts of metrics (views, followers, etc). It has been great to observe and participate in conversations with educators such as yourself who truly view social media as a tool for learning, sharing, and creating/enhancing relationships. In Judaism, there is a term called “Lishmah.” It means that one is doing something for the right reasons, with pure motives. This is not an easy level to attain. As an educator, it has been inspiring to see, more in action (selfless sharing, etc) but also in words such as years, the pure intentions of so many educators.

    2) You made a great point about people finally paying attention. I am sure that most educators on twitter have had the “I don’t see how telling people what I had for breakfast will help me become a better educator” conversation with colleagues that don’t get the whole PLN thing. So lists such as this, as much as they may go against the grain of many of the truly modest people on it, are helpful as well in continuing to promote social media as a valuable tool to educators not yet on board.

    3) The notion of “Real live avatar-people that turned into friends.” One of the highlights for me at #ISTE11 was meeting people I had connected with on Twitter such as yourself, George Couros, and many others. It was great sitting in the Blogger’s Cafe and watching so many people spend time together and enjoy each other’s company. There were real friendships there, with laughing and inside jokes and all those other things that make a relationship. As Lee Kolbert pointed out in a really great blog post about the supposed “EduBlogger Snobs,” the relationships that were on display were the product of the same hard work and effort that all friendships are based on, just in this case, alot of the work took place online. I am grateful to have first learned that all of you exist as I got introduced to twitter as a PD tool last year, and for the opportunities to connect with and learn from everyone. And, as time goes on, I look forward to establishing those friendships as well.

    Thanks for an excellent, inspiring post. I wouldn’t have expected anything else :)

    1. Dov, thank you for commenting. First, it was awesome meeting you at ISTE! The only downside to a conference like ISTE, as so many have mentioned, is that there just isn’t enough time to spend quality minutes with everyone you want to see/meet/talk to! I wish the conference included an entire day of nothing planned, just impromptu conversations and get togethers. Would be the most popular day of the conference.

      Yes, I think those of us that share our blog posts, tweet, comment, etc. are looking to develop conversations around important topics. Those conversations don’t arise without a bit of advertisement. I think there’s a difference between actual self-promotion (“Hey, everyone! Look at me and wrote I wrote today! Am I not the most awesomest blogger in history?!) vs. wanting to spark conversations (“Here’s what I am thinking about right now, if you have any thoughts on it, please chime in!”) I’ve actually been working to try to comment more on blog posts where I DON’T necessarily agree, or where I have a differing viewpoint, because it is really easy to get caught in the cycle of virtually high-fiving the same people over and over again.

      Thanks also for reminding me about Lee’s post. I knew there was another one that I wanted to link to in my reflection. Will do so now. Appreciate your thoughts and glad you are a member of my network!

  8. I’m touched that you stopped and helped the newbie! That’s what it’s all about. So often I am on my way to do something while carrying in my subconscious a mile-long list of the next to-dos, and am tempted to steer myself in an obstacle-free, (people-free?) direction. That’s not our job. It’s about people, helping, teaching, taking the time. Thanks for the reminder and example! (And cheers to you and the entire panel of Connected Principals; your sharing was inspirational!)

    Paul
    an aspiring administrator

    1. Paul, thanks for stopping by and commenting. It’s nice to see aspiring administrators out there sharing! I agree that it’s tempting to blow on by others in our attempts to check things off of our “to-do” list. We need to make more time for people. That’s what education is all about!

  9. Well said. As someone else who was on the “list” and has been on and off other lists- I can assure you- none of it matters. What matters is 1) relationships 2) deep meaningful, messy, hard conversation about education and our own practice, 3) how far we are willing to go on behalf of the kids we serve.

    The list I want to be on is the one that suggests after I have long left this world– she left education and her corner of the world better than she found it. I want to be on the list of amazing parents, trusting friends, and a sharer of all things good.

    Thanks Lyn for all you do on behalf of the kids you serve.

    1. Hi, Sheryl, and thanks for reaffirming the fact that what we do for kids and how we feel about ourselves and our work most importantly defines who we are as educators, not having our name appear on a list of who’s-who. Your description of how those who know you will remember you is similar to Daniel Pink’s “What’s your sentence” activity which we completed as a faculty this year. The sentences my teachers shared were really moving. Thanks for your constant support!

  10. Lyn–I love, love, LOVE the story about Irene! One of the greatest things my PLN has taught me is that sometimes, all you need to do is ask, and someone with more expertise will be glad to help you! Great story! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Thank you Lyn for so eloquently putting the ramblings I had racing around in my brain yesterday since that list was posted. I’ve said it a lot in the last 24 or so hours and I’ll say it again. I don’t do what I do to be on some list and I don’t have any desire to learn what a Klout score is/means or how to improve it. I’m here in this space because I love doing what I do for teachers and students. I also am a bit addicted to learning! :)

    Thank you again for writing this.

    1. Kyle, thanks for your comments! I think if there’s anything worth the trouble of being addicted to, it’s learning. :) I enjoyed connecting with you last week and look forward to all that you share!

  12. Lynn,
    Thanks for a great post. I really like how you made sure we are all fully centered on what matters today- good connections and sharing- and not only a list of names. While I did view the list, I did so with the intention of gaining more people that I can follow and learn from in my PLN. In that sense the list worked and I think you highlighted that point very clearly here.

    I especially like how you mentioned Irene and what she does and should represent to all of us. I am sure I am not alone when I say that I too have felt like you did for that fleeting moment when the furthest thing from your mind is helping someone with a technology question. I want to applaud you for remembering in that moment that we in the ed-tech world are here for all of THOSE teachers. The ones who are trying but need a gentle helping hand along the way.

    I will be sure to remember the story of Irene the next time I have that little pang of annoyance in my mind.

    Let’s all get out there and share and help….for all the Irenes in the world!

    Jessica

    1. Jessica, I think your use of the “list” as a resource to find others to follow is a great idea. I could give you a lot of other recommendations of great educators to follow (all of whom have added to my learning!) if you are interested! I was so grateful for the opportunity to help out someone in need. It really was quite rewarding. Sometimes as an administrator it’s hard to realize the impact you’re having on others, but in that 1:1 situation, I really felt as though we accomplished something together. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

  13. Lyn, spot-on. This was my 3rd ISTE and I was amazed at how many people I knew (my colleague from work must have been annoyed at how many times we had to stop on the way somewhere). I do remember in previous years wondering if I was talking to the ‘right’ people or glancing over at some groups of high-profile edtech-ers and wondering what they were talking about. In fact, it sometimes feels a lot like summer camp.

    This year what was amazing was meeting new people and doing whatever I wanted to do without a care as to what others were doing. Keeping the goals in sight–learning, teaching and building relationships–is what’s really important.

    That said, wish we could have chatted more at ISTE :)

    1. Mary Beth,
      I agree, we did not get to spend enough time together at ISTE! And you’re so close, we need to connect more often! I, too, was amazed that I saw a familiar face at nearly every point during the day at ISTE. It felt to me like summer camp, too, but not so much because I was wondering if I was talking to the right people, but more so because I was sad to be leaving such a great time with friends, new and old! Your goals were right-on for this year! I am glad I felt comfortable enough to wander around and join in/explore wherever I felt like it. I hope your colleague had a great time! Looking forward to seeing her around the Twitterverse :)

  14. It was great meeting you in person. So awesome that contempt for comic sans makes the list. How cool was that for me to meet so many people who share my “elistist” contempt for the ugliest and most used font on the planet?

    1. I really enjoyed meeting you as well. Our conversations were some of my favorite from ISTE. You are equally as intriguing in person as you are via your writing, which I greatly enjoy. Looking forward to reading more of your work and continuing to connect with you! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment! If I could change the font of this comment, I would. :)

  15. Lyn,
    I love how you tied in your ISTE11 reflection, your intended post, to what was on your mind in the moment. A great example to your teachers…run with what is current and wrap it around objectives to make leaning meaningful.

    Your remarks were spot-on. The fact that there is a list, or many lists, out there of prominent educators on twitter is amazing. Yes, we were able to connect with others before Twitter, but now our networks and personal learning are enhanced by an even wider range of ideas and sources. As I have become more active with Twitter and become more proactive about my professional identity online, ISTE has become more valuable – for putting faces with names, bringing the avatars to life – and less overwhelming – it is now more about the personal connections than being swamped with ideas. I still come away from ISTE with my head spinning, full of inspiring ideas, but I also come away with new and renewed friendships, personal goals set during chance conversations, and even more motivation to reach out and connect with others, both online and off.

    1. Jayme, I appreciate your comments. So many of our connections have developed into personal and professional friendships, and it’s added such worth to our work with students. Looking forward to continued learning with you!

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