Find Your Tribe and Fly

“The easiest thing is to react. The second-easiest thing is to respond. But the hardest thing is to initiate.”

Simply stated by Mr. Seth Godin and resoundingly true. For the majority of my 33 years on this Earth, my default was set to react. Recently my needle has shifted to responding more, and now I even initiate on occasion. Shhhh, sometimes I don’t even ask permission! I owe a large part of this transition to the people I am surrounded by, who have given me a sense of belonging. My beautiful tribe. My tribe is connected, we share an interest and a way to communicate.  

This tribe has formed over time and is organic and malleable – it grows with me.  Through a series of very fortunate events in my professional career, I have recently experienced an AMAZING tribal community. After teaching music for nine years, I landed a position as an Instructional Technology Consultant on a rock star team with a stellar reputation. I immediately started “schooling up” on all things ed tech, an infinite subject with limitless information, data, and resources. Two other imperative factors can be attributed to my successful tribal acclimation.  The first: I joined Twitter. My network now transcends classrooms and reaches countries all over the world. The second: I left my comfort zone.  I started presenting at conferences on topics I felt passionate about, meeting & working with amazing people.  Clicking “Submit” for my first presentation proposal was terrifying and life-changing. (Pictured: Laurens-Marathon High School Band, 2015)

This team I speak of – seriously, rock friggin’ stars.  Not only are they experts and leaders in this exciting new tech ed world I was acclimating to, but awesome people in general.  They wrapped their arms around me and welcomed my inexperience, sometimes even celebrating it!  This is when my needle started shifting.  When I had been teaching full time with very little professional support system, I felt the presence of a ceiling, a limit to the learning. Now, fast forward to my first team meeting with my new team…No question – I was now a 100% vested member, my voice mattered, our combined vision (#makeitbetter) was priority and I now belonged to something bigger.  Our work focused on shifting the traditional education system (limited, in-the-box thinking) to encouraging best practice for our 21st century learners. Let us leverage the available technology to be creative and innovative.  With that comes the ability to work collaboratively (face to face and globally) and use critical thinking skills to work through real world problems. How can there be a limit or lid on that kind of learning?!  The roof was raised! (Pictured below: The 2015-16 Prairie Lakes AEA Tech Innovation Team)

I have worked harder the past 16 months that I ever have in my life and not because I needed to keep up, but because I now belonged with this team.  This work, this bigger thing…obliged me to want to keep up. Insert: fire in belly. My transition is a great example of an empowered, passionate learner versus a compliant learner.  

Once support was in place, I also gained more confidence than I ever thought I was capable of.  I started presenting locally and that quickly shifted to presenting globally. The small groups I started presenting to (3,4 or 5 participants) has now grown to upwards to 700!  I recently quit my stable “safe” job to pursue work I am even more passionate about.  I talked my husband into putting our house up for sale so we can move to a city with more opportunities for our children (keep in mind, we’re country bumpkins!).  And just this week, I pulled a stick out of my parent’s Irish Wolfhound’s paw with pliers.  These are just a few things that I wouldn’t have had the guts to do prior to 2015.  

There was a recent online student chat focused on How Teachers Foster Belonging in Schools…great questions were discussed and I have initiated a spinoff set of questions for the “me’s” of the world. (yes, I initiated!)

  • What actions can we take to create stronger bonds with each other?
  • How can we help address real-world issues with each other?
  • What can we do to encourage all to speak freely?
  • How can we facilitate healthy discussions about different forms of oppression and their impact?

I leave you to reflect on the following: Are you reacting, responding or initiating?  Are you celebrating one another in your workplace, family, etc.? Do you empathize? Encourage? Are you learning from others?  Have you hashed something out with another to #makeitbetter?

Seth Godin: “The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.”

Our world needs you to initiate and encourage others to do the same. Sign up for Twitter, push that “Submit” button, expand your network, reach out, meet, greet. It’s your turn.  Find your tribe and fly.

Proof of me speaking in front of a large group of people! #nerves

***This post was cross-published by Sevenzo. Access here: https://medium.com/@Sevenzo/find-your-tribe-and-fly-4a2d7f7027fc#.et29a8fsu

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In Sync With Soundtrap

How is it possible that I haven’t blogged about Soundtrap yet?! Anyone that personally knows me will understand the ridiculousness of this fact.  I’m here to remedy this absolute travesty. 🙂


Soundtrap was first created by musicians for musicians in Stockholm, Sweden circa 2012. Increased classroom practices using this DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) has now transcended to all content areas, abilities and locations….what is this and why would we be using it in schools?!  Soundtrap is an easy-to-use, online recording studio that can be used across any device to create audio without the necessity of being in the same physical space as your collaborator(s). No more anechoic rooms, mixing consoles, orientation
sessions or booking appointments.

That’s all fine and good for musicians and music producers, but what about this “across-content” classroom business I spoke of earlier that is influencing our schools at exponential rates in 2017?  Now that Soundtrap has put these once-complicated, hard-to-obtain tools in the hands of babes, babes can now benefit for the first time – from their phones, Chromebooks, computers or tablets.  And those same babes can create in minutes (it’s that easy!) and invite other babes (from other schools, states, countries!) to collaborate on their project – in real, friggin’ time. I know, it’s incredible.

Basically this is a Google Doc for audio recording.  It has never been done and is now being done beautifully by Soundtrap.

What does this mean for our schools?

  • School districts can now connect and create with other school districts. Think about how impactful this could be to our rural districts.
  • Students can keep creating outside of the 45-minute class period – on their own phone or at home…as long as they have an internet connection. Heck, they could even work on their project from their dentist’s computer if it was online (and said dentist was ok with their computer being hijacked:-)
  • Budding musicians and music producers now have access to a very robust platform, bridging the gap between secondary and post-secondary school programs which will continue to cultivate their passions through school.
  • Speech Language Pathologists have an easy-to-use tool to capture and archive student progress, as well as have an opportunity to invite parents and teachers to access their audio growth portfolio.
  • Foreign language teachers have a slick way of recording their voice (or student’s voice) and inviting collaborators to add comments and/or edit in real time or asynchronously.
  • Countless uses in music classrooms…rehearsal recordings to evaluate and reflect on, practice tool using accompaniments, audition recordings, composition projects, playing assessments, etc.
  • Interviews, podcasts, commercials….the list just keeps going on.


Soundtrap is about all about creating and connecting.  It is simple yet monumental, and this is the time to take hold and experience.  The most recent
NMC/CoSN Report: 2016 K-12 Edition, which examines emerging technologies for their potential impact on and use in teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in schools, understands the importance.  This report charts the horizon for emerging technologies in school communities across the globe by an organization that has the world’s longest-running exploration of technology trends in education.  One major mid-term trend from this report that focuses on driving EdTech adoption in the next 3-5 years…..yep, you called it: Collaborative Learning.  This social construct places the learner at the center, encourages interaction, group work and develops solutions to actual, real-world problems.

When applied in the spirit of deeper collaboration, technology can unite students around big ideas and projects, while integrating web-based resources that will expand their learning. Digital tools are fundamental ingredients in the facilitation of collaborative learning approaches, offering platforms for communication and activities in synchronous as well as asynchronous environments. Cloud computing has been particularly lauded for its role in bolstering collaboration as it instills unlimited potential for teacher, student, and parent communication.  People can easily access and share learning materials with each other, making updates in real time….[encouraging] increased student achievement, discussion, confidence, and active learning. (NMC/CoSN Horizon Report, 2016, p. 12)

There it is.

And that, my dear friends, is why I shout Soundtrap from the rooftops.  


This post was republished by EdCircuit on 1.12.17

NMC/CoSN Horizon Report. (2016). 2016 K-12 Edition. Retrieved from https://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-cosn-horizon-report-2016-k-12-edition/

 

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