Creativity, Innovation, Inspiration

Putting It Out There

Recently a friend started a blog and I started a book.

For both of us, the idea of ‘putting ourselves out there’ is a scary one.  “What if….” thoughts run through our minds: what if no one reads it, no one likes it, no one cares?

So what?

As I have gotten further along with my book, quite a few people have asked me, “Who is your audience?” or “Who is your target market?”.  And I haven’t had a crystal clear picture.  I am sure there are a million reasons/blog posts out there that would tell me that finding my market should have been done before starting my book.  But I didn’t do that. What I have come to realize is that the person who I am writing this for is me.  I am choosing to respond to something I read that resonated LOUDLY with me.  It inspired me.  It moved me.  It has, daily, motivated me to be a better teacher and a better student AND a better advocate for change in the way we deliver education to kids.

Writing this book has clarified ideas. It is has made me articulate my thinking.  I have questioned my position and I have asserted my opinions.  I have thought creatively, collaboratively and independently.  I have tapped into prior knowledge and I have built new understandings. I have gathered a ton of knowledge.  A ton.

But as Tony Wagner so eloquently said:


What am I going to do with my knowledge? 

I am going to put it out there.

I don’t know how this will look just yet but I think it will be great – no, awesome. And if it is not?

My book is inspired by the work of Seth Godin – specifically his manifesto, Stop Stealing Dreams. I therefore did not find it at all surprising that this morning, I was delivered a special message from Seth to me (ok, he sent it to all his blog followers, but I would like to think he knew what I needed to hear). And what did I hear?  That putting it out there is what matters.  Shipping it.  Committing.  Seeing it through.  Doing something with the information.  Finishing it.

As a teacher, I wondered how this applied to the work I ask kids to do? We are in the middle of our Exhibition and it is a big deal.  I have enjoyed sharing my journey with them so they can see that it really is true that it doesn’t end once you leave school.  That you might always be a little scared of putting yourself out there but the worst that can happen is that no one else applauds.  Feedback from our kids today was that hearing my journey, really helped to clarify how they are going to shape and share their own journey – fantastic!

I know there is more to this though. I have a whole lot of other information swimming around inside my head about effort and grading and rubrics and grading and how that links to putting it out there.  I know there is a connection, I just need to smooth it out a bit in my mind.  Ultimately, I want to focus on how I can support my kids in also choosing to put themselves out there.

What do you do?  How do you encourage them to take that leap?  Or do you?



21st Century, Innovation, Inspiration

Stop Stealing (MORE) Dreams

A while back, I posted about Seth Godin’s manifesto “Stop Stealing Dreams“.  A few people read the post, a couple more clicked the links to the copy of his work and I’d hazard a guess that many saw the length of it and skim read some of it.  I urge you to go back and read again.  The kids in your life deserve it. You deserve it.  It will be one of the best, most inspiring readings on education and the world of possibilites in front of us that you will have read in a while.  If you really don’t have the time, let me share with you a few of my favorite gems – a little amuse bouche if you will to whet your appetite for more.  The numbers refer to the section of the manifesto from which the text has been pulled.  All work below is straight from Seth’s pen (or keyboard):



122.Some courses I’d like to see taught in school

  • How old is the Earth?
  • What’s the right price to pay for this car?
  • Improv
  • How to do something no one has ever done before
  • Design and build a small house
  • Advanced software interface design

114.Let’s do something interesting
Every once in a while, between third grade and the end of high school, a teacher offers the class a chance to do something interesting, new, off topic, exciting, risky, and even thrilling. I’d venture it’s about 2 percent of the hours the student is actually in school. The rest of the time is reserved for absorbing the curriculum, for learning what’s on the test.Just wondering: what would happen to our culture if students spent 40 percent of their time pursuing interesting discoveries and exciting growth opportunities, and only 60 percent of the day absorbing facts that used to be important to know?

130.Whose dream?
When we let our kids dream, encourage them to contribute, and push them to do work that matters, we open doors for them that will lead to places that are difficult for us to imagine. When we turn school into more than just a finishing school for a factory job, we enable a new generation to achieve things that we were ill-prepared for.


My class is in the middle of the fifth grade Exhibition.  They are choosing their own path for this unit.  They each have been asked to identify their passion and pursue it with abandon.  Reality – there is a lot of nervousness in the room!  But there is also the beginnings of the understanding that this really is about them.  Their dreams, their passion, their chance to “do something interesting, new, off topic, exciting, risky, and even thrilling.”  Tomorrow, one of my kids is sitting down with a published author to find out what it takes to ‘make it’ in the world of books and writing.  Another is going to take a flight in a twin engine plane to learn more about aviation and airplanes.  Two more have put together an after school activity where fashion meets soccer.  Do I know exactly what each kid is doing?  No.  Are they engaged, focused, organized and committed?  YES!  Amazingly so.  And I trust them.  I trust that they are making good decisions.  I trust they are using their time wisely.  I trust that they are seizing the opportunity to pursue their passion.  And I trust that they are loving it.

For those who are not quite there yet, here are some sage words from Seth:

Creativity, Design, Innovation

Seth Godin

I did think about changing the title of this post to “My Man, Seth Godin” but that may have come across as strange and awkward, plus, he really needs no further embellishment to his name to make you want to keep reading.

Three things I want to share about Seth – this is going to be short and sweet!

1. Most important!  Read his education manifesto.  Seriously.  He has lovingly prepared in in pretty much any format you could possibly desire.  I would like him to read it aloud to me (not an option at this point) but you can have an onscreen version, html version, printable edition, plus multiple e-reader editions and a few other goodies thrown in for good measure!  His work is good.  Understatement. Awesome.  Really thought provoking in so many different areas.  I found it so easy to read that I read it twice in the same day!

2. When you finish reading that, read his book Linchpin.  The thing that got me reading Linchpin was a plea from Seth himself on his website after you scroll down a bit from Stop Stealing Dreams.  He said:

If I could have every administrator, teacher and parent read just one of my books…it would be this one.

Lucky for me, I happen to have a parent at school who owns the book and loaned it to me that same afternoon.  I threw it in my bag on the last day of Snow School to read in the bus on the way to and from the mountain and that was almost enough time to finish it.  Later that night, when I had finished it, I wrote to Seth to thank him for his work.  Cool thing – he wrote back!  I know!  Awesome!   What I love about this book is that it really challenges you to ask questions like “What do I believe in?”, “What do I want to be doing?”, “How can doing what I want to do also help others?”.  It is great.  Read it.

3. Transforming speech or text to graphics is hugely popular these days.  I experienced it first hand as a participant at the NAIS Annual Conference.  Whilst people were giving their address, artists were off to the side transforming their words and ideas into works of art the size of a bed sheet!  This trend continued at the SXSW conference via Ogilvy Notes.  They went a step further and printed out copies for participants to pick up the next day.  A Facebook group about Stop Stealing Dreams was started and one of the members posted the visual summary (above) as a graphic summary of the manifesto.  That person was Lynne Cazaly  – a creative from Melbourne, Australia who does this for a living.

Here is a video of how the live transformation of verbal to visual works via Image Think who were hard at work during SXSW:

This whole new ‘craze’ of drawing what we are saying and thinking in pictures makes me realize why I love the new app Draw Something.  A word guessing game, players pick a level one, two or three word and take their turn to draw it for their partner.  Gold coins are your reward if they are able to guess it. Aside from the spoil sports who simply write the word instead of drawing it, it is actually very cool to see how different people’s brains visualize different things.  Give it a go – I am always up for a game!