Saturday, September 29, 2012

Love Learning

I just finished up an amazing week of learning.  I find that having a mindset of a learner helps turn difficult situations into teachable moments.  I was meeting with a Principal a few weeks ago and she was sharing how her staff and herself were feeling inadequate.  They’re all embracing some new models of learning and haven’t had much time for training or to figure out good practices.  She relayed that it’s causing stress.  After listening to her story, I suggested that they consider changing iStock_000016576964XSmallthe word “inadequate” to “learner”.  She paused for a moment and allowed that small change to resonate.  If each one of us is honest with ourselves, we would admit we all feel inadequate at times.  I’ve read often how leaders especially feel increasingly alone and inadequate and worry about being “found out”.  I know I feel that way often – this might surprise those that know me but it’s true.  I think we unfortunately spend too much time worry about what we don’t know or that we don’t know how to deal with a situation, or a crisis when we should be putting our learning caps on and enjoy the opportunity.  It’s something I’ve been increasingly working at with intention.

This past Thursday evening I had the good fortune of joining nearly 300 Surrey Schools educators in their first Digital Learner Dinner session.  Thank-you to Elisa Carlson (@EMSCarlson) and Dan Turner (@dj_turner) for extending an invitation to me.  There were teams from various schools there and a few presented how technology was impacting their teaching and student learning.  The teachers who presented were honest about the problems and challenges they faced.  It takes courage to share openly in front of 300 of their peers.  I was excited to also enjoy a keynote, The Story of Pixels, by Dean Shareski (slides are posted here).  I’ve followed Dean on social media for quite a while and have always enjoyed the humor he injects.  Example:

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I’ve viewed quite a number of the presentations he’s posted.  But getting a chance to hear and interact with Dean live was a treat.  I also had a chance to speak with him a bit and we might even get out golfing next time he’s in town.  I just have to share a few artifacts from his keynote with you:

  • Bored Shorts TV – Basketball Class (record 4 years olds telling a story about basketball and adults act it out with the kids voice over) *** beware… this video is seriously funny *** – imagine the learning opportunity here for Kindergarten students working with high school students
  • have your students (or employees) take photos and individually or collaboratively write 6-word stories for what the picture says to them
  • create a one second video – splice one second clips together into a one minute video and add background music; use to tell a story
  • don’t underestimate the power of pictures and videos for story telling – media deeply engages our senses
  • publish yours and your students work for the world to see

Yesterday morning I was in a session with our middle and secondary school computer and media teachers.  We wanted to introduce them to the new Adobe Creative Suite 6 deal our District has signed onto.  After going through the pragmatic aspects they were given time to partner up and play with the software.  I put out a challenge for someone to teach me how to solve a long standing video editing iStock_000016919804XSmallproblem where I need to blur two or more faces in a scene.  One of our high school teachers said it’s no problem, he can help.  Four of us were sitting with him as he showed me how Adobe After Effects makes this easy.  After Effects has a feature where you can set a tracker on an object, in this case an eye, a cheek, etc. Next you add an oval and a blur effect and it tracks the face through the scene.  For a second or third face, repeat the process.  Unbelievable!  I’ve been using Adobe Premiere Pro to try to do that and it’s a lot of work tracking a face frame by frame, manually.  I never could figure out how to do two faces!  This teacher saved the day for me and helped me with my learning.

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Another teacher showed what they learned with Adobe Photoshop.  He demonstrated, in seconds, how to use the magnet tool to outline an object in a photo and have it disappear and the surrounding background fill in as if the object was never there.  Amazing.  Magic.  Sharing our learning with others is a powerful thing!

Technology is driving exponential change.  Society is becoming increasingly complex to “operate”.  Our schools include students with diverse needs.  Every week most people are faced with two choices iStock_000007834176XSmallas they encounter challenges, complexity, and the unknown.  They can throw up their hands and declare themselves to be inadequate and lament the situation.  Or, they can declare themselves to be learners and love the opportunity to embrace change, to explore the possibility of the unknown, and to reflect on the gift they’ve been given.  Let’s all orientate our mindsets to one where we Love Learning!