Tag Archives: leadership

Humility

I am excited about participating in my first Slice of Life Writing Challenge. This is a writing challenge by twowritingteachers.wordpress.com in which bloggers are challenged to write about a slice of their day or a topic that inspired them each day in March. I am looking forward to getting to know other bloggers as I will also comment on at least three other bloggers’ posts to their blogs that will be linked to the daily Slice of Life page at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com.

The grocery store Publix just made its debut in N.C. this week. I went to see it for myself today. I circled up and down the rows of cars in the parking lot being unsuccessful in finding a space to park for about five minutes. Finally, I noticed a customer who was getting help with her groceries by a Publix employee who was putting her groceries in her trunk. I waited for approximately three minutes to be able to turn right and pull into her spot when she left.  Anyone could see that my signal was on and I was positioned to get her spot. No sooner had she left when a car sped the wrong way down my row coming toward me and turned left into the vacant spot.  The driver’s wife or woman passenger in the passenger’s seat was mouthing “I’m so sorry” over and over through the window to me.  I don’t know what happened during the next minute because I was in a state of shock that the guy would do this.  I just sat with my right turn signal on with the clicking signal sound throbbing in my mind.  All I could think was, “How could someone barrel down the wrong way of the parking lot then suddenly turn left into the parking spot that I had waited for?”  Time stood still as I waited.  I thought, “This guy will have to walk by me to get into the store if I stay here, but I am not one who enjoys conflict.” I quickly concluded that it would not be worth it to have any contact with the driver so I was about to drive away. Unexpectedly, I saw the driver’s white back up lights go on. My mind raced with thoughts. Could it be that the driver is going to back out? But what if he doesn’t back out?  He could be mean and say hateful words.  We’ll, I almost drove away.  About that time, the car backed out and drove away.  I pulled into the spot relieved that there was no uncomfortable face to face contact.  My husband had witnessed this entire event while sitting behind me in his vehicle.  I looked in my rearview mirror as he drove past me and he grinned while holding up his thumb as a “Thumbs Up” signal.

This moment made me stop and think about why the guy chose to back out.  I have decided that he had the ability to humble himself and admit that he was wrong.  Maybe his passenger threw a fit and he didn’t want to listen to her complain so he did it for her, or maybe, just maybe, he voluntarily showed humility.

I read an article in the NY Times this past week about how companies want their workers to have soft skills such as humility, leadership and adaptability while also being willing to learn and relearn.  The article was based on an interview that had been done with a Google representative, but applies to companies who need people not just based on their grades, but also on their people skills. The article mentioned that in some cases, people who have rarely failed and gotten jobs based on their GPA’s being off the charts can have a hard time with humility.  It is important to show leadership and state your opinion in your company or school, but it is a wise person who can step back and allow other opinions to be heard.  Even if your opinion is not the prevailing one in a group discussion about a topic, you can be assured that having the ability to turn your back up lights on and gracefully submit to others will be noticed.  Having a grumpy stance or being filled with anger only pushes those with whom you work away.  People want to work with those who can rise to the occasion and suggest solutions but then also be adaptable to consider another’s point of view. Perhaps an idea that someone else has could be a better fit to solve a problem meaning that we can learn from our coworkers.

In school, I think that students need opportunities to work in small groups and navigate through the decision making process to allow them the space to be adaptable and show humility, if needed.  This might take the form of having them decide a topic to research or having them choose the type of project that they will create collaboratively.  I know that there are people who will let the leaders of the group do most of the work, but what if teachers formed groups with personalities that complimented each other?  At Google, their human resource department checks and rechecks the personality types based on how the interviewee responds to questions and scenarios.  Google forms teams of people who can work together and seems to position their workers for the best possible outcomes.

Our lessons should have an eye on the future knowing that the soft skills learned in school will allow our students to be college and career ready. Knowing how to get along with others is something we’ve all learned through experiences in life.  I just think it makes sense to promote collaboration through, for example, collaborative research done in a Shared Google Doc where group members have clearly defined roles.  After the research is done, the group could decide on a Storyboard for making an iMovie or other digital project.  As they map their documentary film out, they could rate themselves on soft skill usage such a humility, collaboration, perseverance, adaptability, etc.  Their ability to be successful will depend on how the group works together.

I know that when tensions flare, it is difficult to stay motivated to find acceptable solutions. I am so glad that the driver today made his choice in the Publix parking lot. I would have driven away if the driver had opened his door, but it just made me relieved when he made the right choice.  In our lives, we can view our ability to humble ourselves in our relationships as successful or not. I’d rather humble myself rather than being pushy and inflexible.

Creation Apps

Discover. Play. Build.

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What makes for great instruction that has educational technology involved?  I have designed lessons this year to my K-5 students that answers this question.  As a classroom teacher who taught 3rd and 4th grade for 20 years, I love to equip my students with tools to help them communicate clearly.  In my opinion, technology enhances students’ experiences with communicating.  There are endless digital options these days for students to use to create and to write, but I will focus on just three apps in this post.  Stay tuned for future posts on Tellagami app, Collins Book Creator app, and Book Press app.

After doing an Interactive Read Aloud with my first graders using “A Chair For My Mother” by Vera Williams, I asked students to collaborate while drawing three pictures that showed the beginning, middle and end of the story in the Doodle Buddy app.  Next, they took screenshots of their drawings and placed them in the Comic Maker app where they added speech bubbles with text.  They clearly communicated their understanding of the story while designing a creative digital product.  Could students have retold the story by drawing on paper?  Yes.  Did my students need pencil or paper to do this assignment?  No.  They drew on the iPad with their fingers and typed using the iPad’s keyboard.  I gave them a way to read and respond to books while adding to their ever growing repertoire of digital writing strategies.

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In December of 2013 I gave 4th grade students iPads with the “Write About This” app.  They could choose their own picture with three levels of prompts to promote creative thinking.  The student who wrote the story above articulated her thoughts while composing vivid verbs, inserting internal thoughts and approximating proper use of quotation marks.  This image inspired her.  If I had just given her this prompt to write about with paper and pencil, I don’t know if she would have been able to write with such creativity.  Asking learners to type while composing is different than having them write with a pencil.  This learner was not only inspired by the picture, also also embraced the opportunity to type on the iPad screen.  She published a piece of writing that looks like one she could read in a book with a type font and beamed when she shared it with the class.

Learners communicating their thoughts is nothing new, but with the ability to use technology, students can design and dive deep into engagement!  Teachers can show leadership by modeling how to use the apps with their students by using the Airplay mode on the iPad and an Apple TV.  My students love to get their hands on iPads.  As I demonstrate the steps of app smashing between Doodle Buddy and Comic Maker or show the components of the “Write About This” app to students, they appreciate the tips and are ready to start their projects.