Sunday, November 23, 2008

public vs. private

One of the sessions from my time at the community organizing workshop that really got me thinking was on public & private relationships. The idea that they were trying to communicate is being able to recognize the difference between the two and act appropriately in the public arena especially as it relates to your community organizing activities. Here's how they laid things out:

How do we act? cordial, relaxed, open
What do we expect? give & take, honesty, laughter
What holds the relationship together? common interests, trust, love
How long does relationship last? extended period of time

How do we act? formal, guarded, agenda-driven
What do we expect? results, respect
What holds the relationship together? agreement, mutual interest
How long does relationship last? as long as needed

That does seem pretty straightforward until I think about it relative to online activities where these lines seem to get blurred. It's one of the things I struggle with - to be part of a public online community yet maintain some privacy. Part of it is my personality. I've always been a modest person - not in a humble way, but more in a prudish way. I think I've certainly relaxed as I've aged, but I'm still not comfortable sharing intimate details, especially about my family. If you've read my blog, you probably know I'm married and you might have picked up that I have a son. I have so much I could share about these amazing people in my life, but I've decided to draw a line - that sharing their details online is for them to decide.

I recently joined Facebook and I admit that I'm a little bit addicted, but there too I struggle with personal vs. public relationships. I've got a backlog of friend requests from strangers - what am I supposed to do with them? On the one hand, I'd love to add them and increase my friend count. On the other hand, if I add them, will I have to more careful about what I share? I've also accepted friend requests from people that I would consider more as acquaintances. In some cases my online intereraction has actually strengthened those relationships and in other cases I wonder what was I thinking (or what they are thinking about me).

As social networking sites like Facebook redefine the term friend while they add yet another path to friendship, I also struggle with how to communicate cautious enthusiasm for these new relationship building tools with my students. How will they determine the difference between personal vs. public relationships online? How do you?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

the perfect date

at least according to my hubby ...

Friday, November 14, 2008

community organizing for justice - part I

I've been in FL attending a DART National Leaders Workshop (sounds pretty impressive, hmmm?). It's all been a bit overwhelming as I feel like I've been drinking from the fire hose of community organizer training with a faith-based twist. On the upside, I met a group of amazingly committed people to solving justice issues from a wide variety of backgrounds. I've never been involved in a more diverse group. On the downside, I worry about translating this info into some real action at Peace and in Charlottesville. I'm still processing the info, but here are some highlights:

what God intended for the community
religious values-shaping system - should bring us closer to God
political system - should ensure justice
economic system - should ensure a fair distribution of God's bounty

what went wrong?
- religious control
- political oppression
- economic exploitation

why is pursuing justice so hard for individuals and churches?
It requires power - the ability to give or take away something that someone or some organization wants or needs. Individuals and individual congregations don't usually possess this kind of power. Power comes from organized money and organized people. Power has risks, but the use of power is required to negotiate with our relationships of necessity (banks, gov't, retail, energy, healthcare, education, etc.). Instead of doing justice and loving mercy, we tend to love justice and do mercy.

how do you build power?
In order to live out our values, like doing justice, we need to organize people by engaging them, being in relationship with them, identifying their self-interests and finding common ground. Self-interest is not selfishness, it is your interests in relationship to others interests. I need to identify my own self-interests, so I recognize common interests with others and I can make clear my values and vision to others.


City of God, City of Satan - Robert Linthicum
Engaging the Powers - Walter Wink

if you're reading this AV, I know why you wanted me to go now and I can guess why you left it to my timing - thanks

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Children are Changing: R We?

I attended my first education conference yesterday. In many ways, it was a familiar experience as I've attended my fair share of conferences in the field of technology and more recently the church-related conference. I was very interested in the theme of this conference, not only as a tech teacher, but also as the parent of a digital kid.

I attended 4 sessions:
the power of mindsets: nurturing resilience in our students and ourselves in challenging times
- reaffirmed the mindset at MCS and what an amazing job the guides & staff do of nurturing resilience in our students

using online collaborative tools effectively in the classroom
- I am so ready to blog, wiki, diigo, yammer and voice thread in the classroom; creating positive online experiences

1-to-1 computer initiative
- speaker described a laptop program for 7th years with good ideas on leasing, remote desktop admin and promoting life-long ethical use - now if we could just find some money to pay for it

our children are not the students our schools were designed for: understanding digital kids
- obnoxious speaker + thought-provoking message = lots of squirming and unfortunately many unasked questions

nurturing resilience in our students

my notes from Dr. Robert Brooks presentation at the VAIS annual conference

Important questions to ask yourself as a teacher and of your school:
- how do we identify islands of competence in students?
- if a teaching strategy is not working out, am I willing to ask myself what I can do differently?
- what is the mindset of my school?
- do I believe in the capacity of students to overcome adversity and become hopeful and resilient?
- am I a person whom children can gain strength from? (Dr. Julius Segal describes this as a "charismatic adult")
- do I focus more on what they are getting "in here" than about what they aren't getting "out there"?
- do I use discipline to promote self-discipline and self-control?
- am I empathetic and able to see the world through the eyes of my students?
- what words would I like students to use to describe me versus what words would they actually use today?

are our students resilient? in school, do they:
- believe that there are people who can help and support them
- believe they can solve problems and make decisions
- define their own areas of competence without denying problematic areas
- believe that they can contribute to and make a difference in the world
- possess self-discipline and the ability to think before they act
- believe that mistakes are experiences from which to learn rather than feel defeated

understanding digital kids

my notes from Ian Jukes presentation at the VAIS annual conference

This guy is obviously passionate about his topic and he must feel he's been pounding his head against the wall in pursuit of educating us digital immigrants about the exponential changes our kids are facing, but he's definitely a little bit nuts too. Here are the highlights I got out of his talk, unfortunately he's left the next steps in our inept hands.

he identified 3 areas of focus for digital fluency:
technological - focus on the task, not the tool
media - understand how our thinking is being shaped by media
information - ability to process readily available, sometimes inaccurate information:
- awareness of the problems with available info
- asking good questions
- accessing info
- assessing info (analyze & authenticate)
- applying info appropriately

Our kids are digital natives - digital has become their language of choice. We are digital immigrants - with all the language barriers that implies. One of the differences between digital natives & digital immigrants is that digital natives are able to parallel process information while digital immigrants process info sequentially.

He gave lots of references to the science that kids brains are actually changing because of their exposure to digital media so that they learn differently than we do, but he didn't give any concrete ideas for what that means to teaching in the classroom except to avoid TTWWADI (that's the way we've always done it):
- iBrain
- brain mapping
- the brain that changes itself
- everything bad is good for you
- brain rules

So Ian left me hoping that I'll be a good enough translator until and when the digital natives take over.