Cycling and the Zone of Meditation

When I ride I get to an internal space that my riding buddy tells me about, that I read about – The Zone.  For him it is the quiet space when the noise in his head goes silent.  For me it is the emerging, afterward, that is so powerful.  Becoming below-consciousness, becoming conscious.

Different things to different people, maybe.  For me it is that quiet space, all there is is the trail and forward.  I am not listening to my breathing, nor focusing on the pounding of my heart.  My eyes focus on that sweet spot in the trail, that one that informs my mind and body, absent of conscious thought, how to move, what to do.  I cannot hear my legs and am wholly unaware that a blissful void, a total Focus, consumes me.  I don’t know I have been in the Zone until I come out of the Zone.

When I chase it, watch for it, wait for it, it eludes me, but before I know it, the next thing I know, I am coming up from that space, the void that exemplifies total focus.

When I get in this space even the internal iTunes loop that is always playing in my head is quiet. Sometimes I am approaching the Zone when I think about names for the ride, that I will later post on the Strava app of the ride.  The name is always to do with a song that represents how I am feeling, happy, sad, quiet, loved, unloved, needed, needy, retrospective, introspective.  Or I will be running a mantra in my head that is about the marvels of the ride, note that cactus, I should have stopped to move that rock, envisioning, on the trails I always ride, what’s next, what could be different, details, details, tiny details, so important to remember, like that last glorious sunset..  readiness … for … open … to… anything.

Before I know it I am emerging from that Zone space, unaware I had moved into that blissful stillness and quiet where my body and mind are in unconscious synchronicity.

Try as I might, I cannot usually recall the song that went round and round before the Zone, and when I can, cannot understand why it was so important, so primal.  Nor can I conjure the ride titles that seemed so vital, transcendent, as though their knowing would explain my deepest heart, soul, essence, everything.  All that is left is the simple joy of the ride and the bliss that comes from meditation.

I realize, years after giving up Transcendental Meditation, that this is what my Zone is.  The song, the title, they are the mantra, the Zone is T.H.E. Zone.  I am drained, I am renewed, I am ready to ride, and chase the ethereal, elusive wisp of the ZONE, again.

on ‘Story’

Site ‘re’work in progress. Links may be broken, outdated… Be Happy! Don’t Worry! No Hurry!

I have blogged for maybe a decade now, on again – off again. I began with the advent of what was once known as the ‘Read, Write Web’.  That amazing series of technological advancements that allowed us to begin to interact with the internet CONTENT without being a coder or an uber-back end techie.  Mostly I blogged about Education Technology, Integration in Education, Trends, my experiences with graduate school (Trust the Process)… Early on, not many of us were blogging about these things, but the topic (breadth of related topics, quite a while back now) has gone mainstream and happily, over the years so many really interesting people, connected to so many different ideas, perspectives and experiences, have begun blogging about these same topics (and the partner promo system – twittering) that I mostly began to FOLLOW and use these folks as my professional learning PLN. Then it gets hard to track all the good stuff passing under my fingertips..

New and different things motivate and inspire me now – 21st Century authentic, real-world, creation, experiential learning has given way to a new name, MAKER.  I’ve renewed my love for camping and all things outdoors and in the past 18 months have taken up mountain biking with a passion i have only felt in the past for educational technology.

But something else has driven me to open this last of my many blog formats and hit the old keyboard.  It’s a recognition that many things interest us.  We are human, diverse, complex.  When I speak of passion it can be my own recent odyssey into the world of competitive and sometimes not so competitive mountain biking.  it can be a teacher trying a student-tech-centric approach she has never used before, it can be about people I encounter that have a story to tell.  I do not know what will inspire you, but I draw mine from many places.

These fingers want to fly again, about anything.  Not about me, that’s what FB is for, right?  But, I am pretty busy, so maintaining one blog is quite enough digital space, my topics will wander, meander, sojourn, uncover, discover – like me.

Oh yeah, FOCUS!  Why blog, again, after a long hiatus?  It was at dinner, in NYC, a little over a month ago.  A small (as they are in NY), intimate bistro, maybe 8-10 tables, walls of glass opened to the sidewalk and the air and the urban clatter of buses, cabs, sirens, the din and shout of voices.  Sitting with my mom and 2 of her friends we all launched into chatter.  As friends of mothers are wont to do, they began to ask about me and talk about my happenings and after that topic was spent, I began to ask about them.  Did you work, what did you do? Did you travel, where did you go?  Somewhere in the conversation I had mentioned how my mom used to take us to sit-in’s and protest marches and the most incredible story’s emerged from her friends life experiences.  From a family vacationing in Washington DC in the 60’s so they could take their children to the March on  Washington for Equal Rights for Blacks, to marches for Equal Rights for Women, to Anti-War/Pro-Peace movements.  To what it was like to be the first women working in major television news – as secretary’s (think ‘Mad Men’) to moving on up.  When we hot home, I told mom, I want to blog about these amazing women and their quiet, but powerful story’s.  Then i recognized that I know such a diverse collection of men and women, from all walks, ages, classes.

So many rich experiences and ideas are kept inside of us, or are reserved for our children, our grandchildren.  What have you seen? Tell me a story so that I may share in it and see it too!

I have always had a secret yearning to be a storyteller, the face-to-face kind, the one who weaves a tapestry of belief and curiosity, interest and inspiration through the mystical use of voice, crafted movement of body, choice of words.  But I do not have that natural skill.  I can type, I see the tapestry in my head and the work is to impart to correctly across the dancing keyboard.

The conventional wisdom says that to acquire a blogging audience one must post regularly.  (1) Time, precious time.  I’d really rather be hanging with my family and always wish to be riding (2) I’d rather post when I feel compelled.

I loathe so many of the obligatory social rites and expectations of modern society, I don’t wish to tie myself to this pleasure in a way that someday  risks it feeling like effort.  I am nothing if not about trying to wrest the enjoyment and fulfillment from each thing I do.  I tell the story’s to remember, to share, to relive, to understand and maybe to find a larger lesson. Maybe. Sometimes, it is really just a story.

These are the story’s I wish to share, interwoven with anything else that moves or interests me. If you are looking for a single theme and a new article a week, save yourself.  Plenty of great places to acquire precisely that.  Here will be the hodgepodge that for me is reality of life: different things, different people, new challenges, other perspectives.  Messy, varied, always something.

See you in the Virtual Spaces!  A:)

Technology Rich Classrooms need HS HQ Math & LA Teachers: AZ 2012-2013 School Year, Now Recruiting

Technology Rich Classrooms need Teachers

8 Title I Teaching Positions now open:  Language Arts; Mathematics

 

INNOVATION:

Have you ever longed for the opportunity to help design a new program, using your experience and mastery to implement your best instructional ideas and practices in a new way?

CREATIVITY & PASSION:

Do you seek opportunities to stretch, reaching beyond your personal comfort zone, in a technology rich environment, as you become a vital part of creating something amazing, where once there was nothing? Are you passionate about teaching, infusing technology to ignite a passion for learning in your students?

COLLABORATION & PROBLEM SOLVING:

Do you seek out opportunities to collaborate with peers across the district, state, nation, world and problem solve in your classroom?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, this opportunity may be for you!!!

Please consider applying for the CGUHSD 21st Century Language Arts Lab or Math Lab, Title I Classrooms for the 2012-2013 School Year!

  • Casa Grande Union High School; 1 Math; 1 LA
  • Casa Verde High School; 1 Math; 1 LA
  • Desert Winds High School; 1 Math; 1 LA
  • Vista Grande High School; 2 Math
  • That means we are looking for 5 Math and 3 Language Arts Teachers

See full description and application instructions, by selecting link to AppliTrak: http://www.cguhsd.org/index.php?q=content/job-openings

If you have the drive, passion, interest and capacity, there is a capable and passionate team ready to help support you and your Title I students!

More… what’s in a name … EdTech Leadership

Celebrating and Supporting
Educational Technology Leadership for Innovation in Instruction
ETL-i3
TechUrriculum
Making learning … sticky!


In the beginning….what matters most is what’s best for learners…

TechUrriculum is a term I coined several years ago, articulating my belief and understanding that technology integration must not stand alone; in support of and enhancement to curriculum.  The most effective use of technology supports the curriculum, school culture and maximizes learner interests, ultimately supporting development of the whole learner.  Educational Technology is a seamless yet crucial tool for making connections, digging deeper and preparing all learners for the evolving future.  ETL-i3 is a more recent term designed to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate the need for strategically aligned EdTech Leadership.  Explicit Leadership is a key indicator for moving schools toward excellence, add a robust focus on 21st Century Educational Technology to achieve Innovation in Instruction.

We all know that a name is just a name, it bears no intrinsic meaning beyond what meaning it bears to others.  The ultimate question is does it serve the learner, what is best for the learner?  If we say yes, and if the work is valued, let us acknowledge that a rose, by any other name WILL smell as sweet.  But in reality, when we say ‘Rose’ we conjure images, scents  and memories, thus we give it its meaning and its associated value.


IT Directors and CIO’s are (rightly so) focused on infrastructure, backbone, capacity and security.  Sometimes these individuals are charged with supporting educational technology, sometimes not.  I firmly believe that educational technology is not and should not exist as a function of the business management side of a school district, but rather the work of educational technology makes it part of the core of the instructional side of a school district: a partner to Curriculum; a partner to Students and Stakeholders; and a partner to School and District Level Administrative Leadership.  
While this may be a controversial stance, when the work of the Information Technology Department is outside of the Business Services side of the District and overlaps  – as it so often will – and meanders into the educational, instructional and professional development neighborhood, Information Technology should be and must be driven by Educational Technology and their Leadership for Innovation in Instruction.  Thus in the same way that Information Technology supports and responds to all other functions of the district, so should it be a support service, not the leadership entity for Educational Technology.  I propose a new name that assigns the appropriate value to our highly effective, passionate, skilled and visionary educational technology leaders:  Chief Educational Technology and Instructional Innovation Officer (CEdTIO).  Let your educational technology leaders out from behind closed doors, provide them with access to decision making – at the highest levels of your organization – help them to thrive and find their leadership voice and you , your staff and your students will reap the benefits  and rewards of the good work they shall sow!
Educational Technology Leadership is glue, and this glue helps exemplary, creative and robust, project-based and student-centric instruction to — stick!

ISTE 2011, Philadelphis

In the end….what matters most is what’s best for learners

Who is the learner?  Student, Teacher, Administrator, Parent, Community, Support Staff, Legislature.  The learner is you, the learner is me!  We are us, we are them!

FLIP that Classroom, NOW!

No, it is not a sign of poor classroom management, tipping chairs and desks.  Rather, the Flipped Classroom is a shift in behavior, in instruction, in the role of the teacher. The flipped classroom is a transformation of the pedagogy of teaching.

If you research the term and practice on the internet, you will find that some educators find it a recent, ’21st Century’ phenomenon, related to updating and upgrading classroom practice to align with our often hyper-connected students, while other educators observe this as a clarification and practice of constructivist education. (See also Constructionism)

If we accept the notion that state standards and mandated state and national exams are a measure of the baseline, achievement of the educators ‘starting’ point rather than the ultimate goal, we can quickly realize there is both room and need for adapting the classroom. 

In order to move beyond this baseline of expectations, in order to provide a world class education, in order that we help our students to engage in critical thinking, education of the whole person and support the development of not just the future work force of America, but literally, it’s citizens, we come to recognize that constructivist theory and practice is a powerful opportunity.  The flipped classroom is a creative and dynamic way of achieving these ends, utilizing the teacher not as a lecturer but rather as a resource for deepening understanding and reinforcing prior learning.

There are a multitude of ways that a teacher may begin to apply the ‘Flipped’ philosophy… one example I learned of last year (out of the Tucson, AZ area); the teacher assigned the course work (theory) to occur out of the classroom, at home, study hall. Teacher had content online (Moodle – for our District this is CGOL), but one could use a variety of web based media (See Salman Khan TED Talk Video below) and resources, the students came to class 3 days a week, versus 5 (2 days were study hall/Media Center) and during the days in the classroom, students were discussing with the teacher, practicing the theory in a practical sense, developing products and artifacts as evidence of understating.  The teacher was the resource not the answer, the teacher challenged – through inquiry – students ideas and understanding. The teacher could easily guide dialog to real-world connections.  This teacher explained that his students were exhibiting self-reliance and personal responsibility for their learning, they were achieving a meta-state, learning about their learning through supporting their fellow learners.  The experience took the students, and the teacher, far beyond lecture, note, passing a test on Friday afternoon. 

Your environment may not allow for you to actually alter student schedules and whereabouts, but you can look at how you spend your class time, and how your students spend your class time.  Are you all putting into it, what you are getting out of it?  If not, maybe you’d like to Flip, maybe it’s modified to fit your environment, your students, your content, your need.  But give it a try.

Remember as a child, doing a somersault and giggling with joy, then doing another?
Go ahead, Flip your classroom and let yourself giggle for joy!

Resources:

The Flipped Classroom & Webinar an Wiki Resources
How the Flipped Classroom is Radically Transforming Learning
The Flipped Classroom Model: A full Picture, Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D
I had the pleasure of participating in a session and speaking with Dr. Gerstein at EduBloggerCon and ISTE 2011, she is a sharp, passionate dynamo with powerful ideas for teachers and learners!
Link to Dr. Gerstein presentations HERE
Learning Conversations, Flipping the Classroom

Video – TED Talks: Salman Khan, Khan Academy on Video as Flipped Instruction

We do what we must, and call it by the best names.

We do what we must, and call it by the best names.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Still wondering what to call this thing I do.  Mostly ‘Educational Technology’ seems to have taken deep root in the US, there are a few other names beyond the states.  I stumbled on ‘Academic Technology’ on LinkedIn and tried that on for size.  But if Emerson is on to something here, we need to call it by the best name.  Way Back Machine to 2008: http://tinyurl.com/26m5qme

A few years back I thought the words ‘Educational Technology’ would continue to propagate and reinforce the stereotype of this scope of work/study/practice being a stand-alone, separate activity – reinforce ‘otherness-ness’.

Have I lost you yet?  Words have power, they reinforce belief, they invoke bias.  What is this scope of work now?  It is embedded, in curriculum, in professional learning communities, in communication.  Embedded, entrenched, immersed….  How about this one:  Digital Academics! I think I shall put it on my email sig and see if anyone even notices.

Amy Chayefsky
Digital Academics Coordinator

Well, I may just like that?  Et tu, Brute?

PM for ClearCutter:  DAC?

Desperately Seeking … Balance. Easy as 1-2-3-4-5!

While developing and managing two disparate departments or fields of work, I have lost balance and the capacity to move concisely, decisively and most of all successfully in a broad range of work.  My scope ranges from helping new staff sign onto the network to deploying 1:1 in partnership with Information Technology to updating Libraries to Media Centers to managing software licensing to overseeing online curriculum to partnering with schools and staff to develop students access to professional development to grants management to visioning Educational/Academic Technology for the future and utilization of educational technology that supports creativity and self-expression to department head for Career and Technical Education (Vocation) to managing the related reports (to ADE and a myriad of other connected entities and agencies) – and I am exhausted.  Yawn, Snooze.  Everyone is busy, most of us have been tasked with more and more with less and less since the earlier recession of the 70’s.

Both of these roles are run by (what I like to call) my mighty department of one.  CTE was to be a portion of my work, not all of my work and EdTech has taken a sad back seat.  This has set my heart, my brain, my soul and my passion out of balance.

I have struggled with how to move forward and right my ship.  I reflect back to what believe about (1) ANTs and I am reminded of Gina Pinch’s words about being able only to (2) ‘change oneself’ versus changing others and having the ability and capacity to (3) ‘affect change within your own personal sphere of influence’.

I add this to some of the messages from our new leadership which practices and celebrates: (4) Leaders at all levels; (5) Decision-making closest to the point of implementation.

In these simple statements I find philosophical guidance – those things you know, but lose sight of as faced with the urgencies and fires of each day.  But become new again, obvious again when you hear them said, when the time is upon ou and your ears are wide open!

My ears are wide open!

Here is my pledge to me:

1.  I shall work to balance ANTs with the things I can influence through positive change
2.  Focus energy on improving my perspective/bias/beliefs, not attempting the impossible – trying to change others
3.  I shall focus on the optimistic people (like me) and the positive experiences within my sphere of influence (professional and personal)
4.  I shall seek opportunities to help develop leaders at all levels, within my personal and professional sphere of influence
5.  I shall stop to smell the roses.  By this I mean that I will permit myself the space to STOP (before reacting), OBSERVE (before acting), REFLECT (before doing) as I seek to recognize opportunities to move decision-making closest to the point of implementation.

Serious Gaming – Critical Friends for the Autistic

Can World of WarCraft provide relevant social interractions for the truly isolated, the autistic?

Serious Gaming on my mind, its (and related evangelists) are suddenly everywhere I turn – beyond trend in educational technology, finally, the next big ‘shift’ in relevant educational technology.

Visions of Serious Gaming (as ‘Critical Friends’) for my Autistic friends.

That’d be my new twist an older theme: ‘Critical Friends’.

Video from TED 2010, Jane McGonigal ‘Gaming Can Make a Better World:

C’mon my game designer friends, let’s PLAY!

Blend your passions and achieve surprising and unexpected new flavors!

Climbing downhill, backward – as fast as we can?

How is this good for society? Campus gun bill (permitting college faculty to carry weapons) is still progressing through AZ Legislative process BUT services for children of working poor and that benefit our most vulnerable persons and our Heritage spaces were CUT.   Yet again, who is minding our store?

As educators, we are under constant pressure – and I believe personally obligated – to elevate our students, ourselves, our leadership and our communities into the (now 10 year old) 21st century shift to regain our (U.S.) competitive and innovative edge (Educate the ‘whole’ learner).  These decisions take education – and even more crucially, our society – back down that long hill.  Can we EVER hope to regain what we are abandoning in education and social programs now? We have not yet acheived our most  noble dreams and visions, if we continue to fall behind now, how many decades till we ‘catch-up’.  Can we ever make up this lost ground?  How much irreparable damage is being inflicted – now? 

Rapidly evaporating educational funds (in the form of state and federal grants) make it to some, which are quite often the innovators ‘at the top’ and those so far ‘at the bottom’ – all noble, but what about the majority in the middle?  Focus of funds only to classrooms ‘feels’ right, but can the classrooms elevate themselves all alone?  If they could, would we be having this discussion?  Legislators must begin to take the harder path, throwing out the notion that layoffs and teacher blame are any kind of solution.  We must explicitly support innovative and effective leadership that creates the infrastructure for, recognizes and sustains innovative and effective instruction.  Leadership that affects change to the culture and environment that impedes teacher success with students.  It is the long tail approach over knee-jerk reactions, that change too frequently for impact or measurement to meaningfully occur.

Is the our Sisyphus moment, can we ever get back to where we were? Is ‘where we were’ a reasonable goal?   What about where we hoped to be, meant to be? Don’t we still need to get over that hill? 

Children, Public Spaces, Free and Public (and I would add …. RELEVANT) Education for all. Isn’t one measure of an advanced society how we treat our vulnerable persons?   If this is true, does AZ get an F- as an advanced society?

After all – Society is Us!  And, through our vote, we get to decide.

 

 
Image Courtesy of Google Images (License: labeled for reuse)