Archive for the ‘Courage’ Category

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Sunday evening as I walked to my hotel from the ISTE 2010 opening keynote I was struck by the difference on the downtown Denver streets compared to 25 years ago.  In a surreal coincidence I saw 2 young men dressed in white shirts and ties and saw myself those many years ago when I served the people of this city.  As a 19 year old young man, I spent my time downtown and in the Five Points area helping many people that could not help themselves.  I don’t share this to shine a light on what I did, but I want people to understand tough times.  In several of the sessions I attended at ISTE the current dire state of affairs was shared.  Come back in time with me and we shall compare and contrast.

25 years ago I spent 18 months of my life, unpaid (I saved money as a teenager to do all this on my own dime) helping people.  The time was 1985, the organization I represented had shortened service time from 24 to 18 months because we were in an economic recession, interest rates were 13% and higher, unemployment was up, and there was an influx of Vietnamese and Hmong refugees from Laos and Thailand here in Denver.  The streets I walk today were filled with desperate people, and I spent time with them, helping them.  We delivered clothes, beds, food, helped them find housing and jobs, gave them rides, did whatever we could do to help them have a better life.  Many of the young children I knew back then are now adults, and are out in the world helping to make it a better place.

The service I was involved in was meaningful, frightening, rewarding, painful, full of heartache and joy at the same time.  I had worked hard growing up on a ranch in western Wyoming, but this was something else:  a different kind of hard work.  I benefited from each experience, I am a better man because of these times in my youth, but where did all the people go?  There are a few I see, but are they all still there?  Do we not see them because they were shooed away, because they are hidden elsewhere, were they cleaned up like crude oil on a sandy beach and taken away out of sight and out of mind?

It is easy to be concerned when we have something shoved in our faces.  It is right there, not to be ignored.  We may get concerned for awhile because it is a popular thing to do, it captures our interest for a time, or it impacts our personal lives so directly that we have to deal with it.  I was taught at an early age to serve people.  I don’t mean the occasional helping the neighbor.  I mean consistently giving of my time, money, and life to those that I live amongst with an eye to the big picture of things and with a hope that others will do the same across the globe.

I heard a comment during an ISTE session on Monday that we must think global first, and I wonder if that is misguided thinking.  If we can’t think about our neighbor and help them, how can we know what it really takes (time, energy, heart, etc.) to help around the world?  It may be a case of semantics, but family first, community second, and global third seems like a natural progression of thinking, or in the case of students learning.  We can make a huge difference for good where we are at a given time. I think we should.

Yes, these are tough times.  There have been tough times since I took my first breath in November of 1965.  We live in a troubled world, we face great challenges, and we do need to help our children prepare to meet problems head on just like I was taught to deal with things by great and noble people in my past.  We do that via authentic opportunities of service.  I shall restate the key term:  do.

Doing something requires action.  Yes, I can join a social network group and discuss the issues, make a plan, but it serves no real purpose until that action is carried out in the form of service to others.  Hands on, get your hands and white shirt dirty, help a guy stand up on California Street in Denver, feed him, get him some clothes and housing, take him to a job interview, check back and make sure life is getting better kind of service.  Selfless service, not out to make a dollar service.

We can talk about it and it is a noble, idealistic effort, but until you act I have a hard time listening.  Would you really help someone you see in need on California Street?  Will you?  If you came back 25 years later and saw no one in need, was the problem solved?  Today, the economy is tough, but I would say better than it was 25 years ago.  A trip to the Exhibit Hall of ISTE 2010 sure makes me think everything is okay in the education world.  Tax dollars will buy many of the gee whiz items that grace the hall, but will these items help our kids go out and find people in this city, in your city, that are in dire straits?  Maybe that is a lens that we can use to help us decide before we choose that new interactive whiteboard, set of clickers, or information management software.

I listened to a man on Sunday night speak of solving the world’s challenges.  Would he go out on California Street, just a few hundred yards from the very stage he stood on (25 years ago California Street ran through the Convention Center!) and help someone in need?  I hope so.  I have.

Let’s help our children, students, young people look the hundred yards and go out and help.  That is good hands on experience that will help them look a mile, 100 miles, 1000 miles, and all around the globe.  It will help them to see the people on California Street that we may not see anymore, but they are still there in need.  Most of us already do this in our classrooms and schools, and we must continue to extend that vision beyond those spaces keeping an eye on that young face within our view making sure they see the challenges ahead and that they learn how to do something about it as we do something about it with them, today.

Technology can be deceiving, and what is inside is really what counts!!!

Nice work and it’s healing well!

8 years ago I stood and delivered information and became involved in one of the most important classroom discussions with some wonderful, scared, and bright students.  September 11, 2001 changed each of us that day, and it was an extra honor to be my student’s social studies teacher that day.  We shared shock, sadness, love, and respect for all those that were directly touched by the events of that day.  We all were influenced in a meaningful way, and I will never forget those that lost their lives that tragic day.

As always  I have found interesting information at Miguel Guhlin’s blog Around the Corner!  The following three videos are worth reflecting on.   Thanks Miguel!

In this first video I hope the answer is YES!!!

Since I reside in Nebraska I wish I could have caught this act, but alas tragedy struck!!!  It’s kind of like my trees the power district cut down and the one they butchered (I have to let this go, but this song captures some of what I feel!).

It seems amazing to me that we would need to create a sense of urgency in education, but the ideas presented here are valid for any organization.

Lost Generation

Posted: March 6, 2009 in Courage, Education, Inspirational, Youth

Well, here we are again closing in on the end of the first quarter of a school year and deep in the grips of things that always seem to take our valuable time.  What are these things? Paperwork, government guidelines, red tape, laggards, etc. Requirements, necessary evils, challenges, dips whatever you want to call them.

Seth Godin shares the following about his ideas in the book The Dip:

“Every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out exciting and fun. Then it gets harder and less fun, until it hits a low point-really hard, and not much fun at all.

And then you find yourself asking if the goal is even worth the hassle. Maybe you’re in a Dip-a temporary setback that will get better if you keep pushing. But maybe it’s really a Cul-de-Sac, which will never get better, no matter how hard you try.

What really sets superstars apart from everyone else is the ability to escape dead ends quickly, while staying focused and motivated when it really counts.

Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt-until they commit to beating the right Dip for the right reasons. In fact, winners seek out the Dip. They realize that the bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward for getting past it. If you can become number one in your niche, you’ll get more than your fair share of profits, glory, and long-term security.

Losers, on the other hand, fall into two basic traps. Either they fail to stick out the Dip-they get to the moment of truth and then give up-or they never even find the right Dip to conquer.”

David Jakes provided great insight on “The Dip” last year and here is a review with his education spin:

“So my question to all of you is this. Have you thought about the approaching dip? Because it’s coming…

To the teachers out there: What will you do to work through the dip? What can you do to anticipate the factors that will contribute to the dip? What alliances do you need to form or develop that can help to mitigate the dip? How must you alter what you do to provide the time necessary to nurture, develop and extend the things you have learned so that they become a seamless part of what you do? How will your past practice, behaviors, and methodologies contribute to the onset of the dip? How will you avoid these? How will you lean into and push your way through the dip to be the best?

To the administrators out there: What will you do to help teachers through the dip? Do you know what they learned over the summer? Have you learned the same things? What do you have in place to support teachers on those new initiatives? Have you built organizational readiness to support teachers, or will you be a contributing factor to the influence of the dip? In September, will you think of November, when the initial energy of the start of school is a distant memory? Are you planning to help teachers maintain the energy? Are you providing the dollars, the infrastructure, and the leadership to help your school become the best? Teachers can only do so much; administrators have the ability to open the door to more.

And the technology people out there: will you supply that lost or forgotten password ten times, and do so with a smile? Will you answer that email in a timely fashion because behind every email is a whole bunch of kids that need to know. Can you get that site unblocked for that teacher that wants to do more and take kids to the next level?

Look at all the questions. Look at all the potential excuses. It’s easy to see why the dip occurs, and why it’s difficult to get things changed in education.

Start leaning now.”

Again, I’m leaning, I’m leaning!

My blog has been a place where I have met some wonderful people.  These great folks have become my teachers and as they share their knowledge, experiences, products, concerns, and hearts they become my friends.  Kyle Addington teaches me more and more each day, and he created a video that I have been meaning to share and it cannot wait any longer!  Watch, learn, and do:

A good friend and colleague, Larry LaShell, shared the following video with me today:

Web Link

I needed this today. Thanks Larry, you made a difference by passing this on!