Why I Am Not Following You?

Recently I have reflected on who to follow on Twitter and what blogs to keep in my reader. I came up with following criteria and in no way mean to offend anyone. I was starting to feel overwhelmed with information overload and wanted to be more selective and therefore more productive. Here are some criteria that determine who I follow and what I read.

• I don’t like blog posts that are too long. This may seem negative and possibly lazy, but I prefer posts that are short on elaboration and get right to a topic or issue. For me personally, simplicity is key! I call this the American Idol theory…don’t take two hours to tell me a five second result.

• I will not follow people on Twitter if they ask me to. I find educators to follow based on conversations I have through chats or side conversations. I was actually at a conference where someone was repeatedly tweeting that they wanted to get to a certain number of tweets. For me this is not a popularity contest but a learning contest. Numbers are irrelevant to me but rather I focus on the quality of my connections.

• I don’t have time to follow any more or read any more. I love my wife and spending time with my sons. Little league will always trump reading more blog posts. What I like about Twitter and my Google Reader is that I control how much I read and take in. Everyone has different personal circumstances that dictate what they have time for. I know what works for me may not work for others and that’s ok.

• My brain is full. I constantly change who I follow and do unfollow people from time to time. I follow people and read blogs that I connect with on a professional and personal level. I also follow and read people that I disagree with to always challenge my thinking. I am looking for a wider perspective but not too wide…my brain can only handle so much.

• I will not follow you just because you follow me. This is not meant to be rude, but I choose who I follow based on who contributes to conversations I am involved in and who I learn with. While I appreciate followers, for me that is not what Twitter and blog following is about. This is not a homecoming court voting but a place for me to learn and grow as an educator. If I can do that following ten people then I will follow ten people.
I know there are great educators out there that I am not following and blogs I am not reading. With that being said, I have to draw that line somewhere. I am sure my PLN will grow, but for now I am being selective not as a way to be rude but as a way to not overwhelm myself and make the best of my connected learning.

You've Got A Friend In Me

You’ve Got a Friend in Me is the song we choose for our little lip dub project. Yes, it was a fun project and I had a blast putting it together. However, I think symbolically it means a whole lot more. It is just a small symbol of the connections we have created and fostered through our Professional Learning Network on Twitter. I have only been active on Twitter since October of 2010 and in that time met some truly amazing and inspiring people. Some of these very people were involved in our little PLN Lip Dub project and I consider some of them my friends.

Some people see Twitter and other social media outlets as a waste of time and don’t “get it”. I will say very openly and honestly, Twitter has been the single greatest influence in my teaching career. I have learned more and connected more in these few short weeks than the previous eight years of teaching. The experiences I have had and the people I have met through Twitter is something I could never have hoped to accomplish without it. The song we choose was You’ve Got a Friend in Me, and I think it really says it all. Many of the people in our extended PLN’s are people we have never actually met face to face. Yet, we share with them our latest and greatest resources and even pieces of our personal life. If friends are people that are there for each other and lend a helping hand, then yes, Twitter does help create friends. And you’ve got a friend in me…


Preschool Graduation Speech

Good afternoon friends, families, and graduates. Thank you so much for asking me to come and speak before you on this momentous of days in the lives of these five year olds. We come together today to recognize and honor our preschool graduates. Over the past two years they have come through these doors to play, paint, draw, build, dress-up, read, write, color, and learn. Through the power of play these students have grown socially, emotionally and academically. Through the power of compassionate and love filled teaching, these students are now prepared for elementary school.

Students, as you move into the next phase of your academic lives I have some advice for you. First, forget everything you did here. Especially anything that was fun and playful. You will be entering into a world of testing and strict standards that will dictate your every move. Your play time will be replaced by test preparation and your coloring will be done with a number two pencil in small circles.

My second piece of advice is to hold on to your creativity as long as you can. While you were here in preschool you were creative in the most unfiltered and pure form. You learned new things out of curiosity and a natural love of learning. As you get older your classes will become more rigid, structured and scripted. Do whatever you can to be creative in your work and pursue your natural curiosity.

Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid failing. Yes, when you tried singing your ABC’s and messed up, your teacher gave you as much time as you needed to figure it out and get it right. Even though you failed initially, your teacher did help you learn from it. However, as you move forward, failure is seen as weakness and ultimately will determine your lot in life. Too many failed tasks and you will be labeled a failure with no chance of success in this so called real world.

Now don’t get me wrong, elementary, junior high, and high school will have some great things as well. Those friends that you made in preschool will still be with you. Although as you move on in your schooling, those friends will now be competitors. Instead of playing together you will compete with each other for awards, spots on sports teams, and class ranking. If you are lucky you will come out on top.

My last piece of advice is for you to never lose your hope. If you are fortunate enough you will have a teacher willing to make learning as fun for you as it was here in preschool. This teacher will allow you to think outside the box and allow your natural creativity to flow. They will encourage you to be more than a number on a standardized test or a grade on a report card.

Teachers outside of the preschool world, if you are in the audience I ask you a favor. Look at these bright and enthusiastic faces. They have a love for learning and treasure every day at school. Do whatever is in your power to keep them this way as long as possible. Don’t squash it with test prep, awards competitions, and overly standardized learning.

In closing, my most heartfelt congrats to you and the work you have done in the past two years. Keep the memory of the past two years in your mind and never forget what is possible when you love learning and let your curiosity lead your way.