Information(!) (?)

In 1993, the music group Duran Duran released a song entitled “Too Much Information.”

Again, this is in 1993.  I was a freshman in high school at the time.  I do not recall whether or not my high school had any internet connection.  At that time, we used computers in a keyboarding class and maybe some programming courses.  So the immediacy of information as we know it today was not a part of my life at that point.  And yet, that feeling of being overwhelmed by information was something that was real in that time.  Now, over 20 years later, I think about that time and it brings a smile to my face to think about the bombardment of information then compared to today.  I suppose that 20 years from now, I may look back and feel the same way about this current era.

What got me thinking about this?  Twitter.

I like to read various educational, leadership, and theological articles throughout the week and then I tweet them out a couple of days each week.  As I read articles and blogs, I’m struck at how much good information is out there!  There are so many great thinkers that now–due to technology–are able to share their thoughts with the world.  What a great time and place to live.  In fact, God has called us to be here and now and that is not an accident.

Of course, with this overload of information, there are couple of  things to consider:

1–Social media is a GREAT way to share our thoughts and build a professional learning network.  There is much to share.  Unfortunately, we are sinners.  As we share our entire lives with people, that means that they will occasionally see our sinfulness.  We must be very careful to watch what we say.  Sometimes in ministry we hear stories about peers who are fired for online comments or behavior.  We may think to ourselves that such events are unfair or question how invasive school policy should be on teacher social media.  But that type of thinking deflects from the issue of personal responsibility and sin.  Sin is still sin.  And it is still serious; there are still consequences.

A question with which I wrestle:  As a church of the Gospel, how can we convey forgiveness to those who have sinned in social media?  We are good at the Law side… how about the Gospel?  This is something that I think we are all working on.

2–Unfortunately, now that everyone has access to information, now everyone is an expert.  I guess this blog is living testimony to that.  Anyone with internet access and a keyboard can post something and look authoritative.  This leads to many challenges for teachers.  First, there is the threat of misinformation leading us (and our students) astray.  Second, the “everyone is an expert” mentality undermines the teacher’s authority in the classroom and can lead to a contentious relationship between home and school.

My simple advice?

1–Get started.  Don’t worry about catching up with a blog.  Just start now.  Find good sources.  I like to read Grant Wiggins, Tim Elmore, Dave Black, and Pernille Ripp to name a few.

2–Use an app to find articles.  Zite is the app I currently use, but in March, Flipboard acquired Zite and it appears that Zite will be going away soon.  This is too bad.  Hopefully Flipboard becomes more like Zite.  As it stands now, I find Flipboard to be far too narrow (and far too politically left-leaning) in the article suggestions.  Furthermore, Flipboard does not give you great blog posts suggestions.  So… let’s see what happens.

3–Always be careful with what you share, what you say, and with whom you connect.

4–Have FUN and LEARN!

Accreditation, part 2

A couple of weeks back, I wrote briefly about accreditation.  We are going through a new process this year that we find very exciting and challenging.

As our principal and I sat through an explanation of the AdvancED process, I noticed that everything went back to “the student.”

Huh… imagine that… education focused on the learner!

I know, I know… it sounds like a fairly obvious statement, but in that moment, I had a very brief, fleeting bout of panic.  “Wait!  Does our classroom walkthrough model focus enough on what students are doing rather than teachers??”

The answer?  Of course it does.  Our school has created a culture that is focused on the student and on how we can best reach students.  We are at a stage where we are looking at ways we can stretch students and reach students of all ability levels.  It is a difficult task, but it is important.

When I first started as a school administrator, I believed that it was important for the teachers to feel comfortable with what they taught and how they taught it.  And to a degree, I still believe so.  The danger in this type of thinking, however, is that it can give teachers a free pass to not grow as educators.  Teachers can fall into such a rut that students who do not fit into that narrow groove cannot succeed in that teacher’s classroom.

Why should we allow this, or (even if subtly) promote it?

“School” and “education” is for the student’s benefit, not for the teacher’s ego or edification.  Keep it Christ-centered and student-focused… and then see what great things can happen in the lives of teachers, students, and parents!

When education is student-focused, the teacher becomes a life-long learner.  When the teacher is a life-long learner, the teacher has a passion to reach all students and is unafraid to try new things in the classroom.  When a teacher is passionate about students, students notice and get excited about learning.  When students are excited about learning, parents notice and want to know what is going on in that school.  And when parents and students take a look at what is going on in our Lutheran schools, they see Jesus.

And it doesn’t get any better than that.

Generations

Much has been written on Generation Y and future generations.

Many people are trying to find out where Generation X is going.

The Baby Boomers are in the discussion concerning retirement, social programs, etc.

Last week I went to a funeral for a family friend.  This woman was 90 at the time of her death.  I thought back on the previous two years in which my own family has seen three members from that generation (often dubbed The Greatest Generation) die.

Oh the stories they told!  The lives they lived!  The hardships and struggles that are unfathomable to us today.  Stories from the tail-end of the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and World War II.  How many of these stories will be lost to history?  How much of our family histories are lying in a nursing home, with no one to listen?

Please, before it is too late, take the time to talk to the loved ones in your life.  Learn from their experiences and wisdom.  A generation is being lost, but let us never forget them.

Accreditation!

Our school will be going through an accreditation visit this year.  Now, I know that a lot of people do not like the process, but I love it.  Accreditation is the bare minimum of standards that we meet.  Notice I said “minimum.”  How often do we look at accreditation as the upper (rather than lower) limit?  Accreditation should be our floor, not our ceiling.  Why not take the opportunity to (1) promote actual, ongoing improvement and (2) seek ways to go far beyond the minimum?

 

You are here.

Well, if anyone reads this, you are here.  That’s kind of obvious, I suppose.

But I mean that in a larger sense, too.  I am a big, fat guy who has bumbled and stumbled throughout his life from one thing to the next.  I have spent my life trying to stay out of the way.  As a result or maybe as a part of this, I find myself apologizing for my existence much more than I should.

And that is not right.

To view myself in that way is to deny vocation–the position and places in which God has placed me.

Some of you may experience similar internal battles.  Maybe you are entering a school year unsure if you are prepared (mentally, spiritually, or physically.)  You may look at your colleagues and administration and question whether or not you will make it through the year.  You may find yourself jaded.  You may question the attitude, motivation, and effort of parents and students.  You may be tired… and there is so much left to do!  So much time on the calendar!

But you are here.  And because you are here, you are called to make a difference.  

Every day that you teach your students you are leaving an impression.  Every conversation with your colleagues has the power to encourage or discourage.  Every day that you talk with a parent, you represent yourself, your class, your alma mater, your school, your congregation, and Christ Himself to that family.

Quite the responsibility, isn’t it?

But you are here!  That YOU exist; that YOU live in this time period, in the place YOU reside, speaks with a deafening roar. God has called YOU and equipped YOU to serve in this place, in this time.  And that has made all the difference.  Do not be afraid.  Are you tired?  That is great!  Now you can find true strength and peace through Jesus!  Are you nervous about “that parent?”  What a great opportunity for you to minister to a family!  Are you concerned about declining enrollment?  Now we can see what the Lord will do!  Not all of our conversations will be HAPPY, but they can all be JOYFUL.  Not all we experience will be “nice” but we can learn from ALL experiences.

Thanks be to God that we are called to be a part of His ministry.  God bless your year!