Time and choices we make

Dean Shareski posted a tweet the other day (I hope it was Dean). He said someone asked him how he found the time to do what he did.
"I don't "find" the time," he said. "I make the time."
My first thought was, yes-absolutely. And I retweeted it.
But, now I am wondering if some of this networking and sharing online is easier for me to "make the time" for because I enjoy it.
If someone said to me, "Make time to cook and garden," I'd be hard-pressed to find the time.  Not that I'm equating changing the way we "do schools" with growing squash and baking bread, but you get my point.
I like being online, learning from my community. I'm energized by discussions about brain research and social media. I look forward to checking Twitter for new reads or connections. I love watching my students' learn from each other and share their thoughts on the blogs. Carving out time to catch up on my RSS feeds or comment on various nings is not difficult for me.

The other day someone said to me, "Your face lights up when you talk about this stuff."
I don't know why all teachers don't find discussions about learning with social media enjoyable. But I also wonder if our personalities, our tendencies, or whether we look at the world in black and white or gray, play into any of this.

 I also know colleagues who don't necessarily "enjoy" this, but they do it because they understand the value in learning, sharing, and connecting professionally–much as I understand the value in cooking food so I don't eat junk. I cook because I know it's good for me, not because I want to.

Being online isn't my whole life. I run and go to the gym each day, I visit with friends, and occasionally watch movies.  And there's nothing better than plopping down at the beach with a good book and soaking up the sun. Given a free moment, though, I'll login to see who's online or what people are talking about.

Some of you will argue that making "the shift" can't be a choice, and teachers should just get on board.
But I'm thinking it's a whole lot easier for those of us who love change and jumping into new things to gravitate toward this new media and what it offers.

What do you think? Am I way off on this?

22 thoughts on “Time and choices we make

  1. No, I think you are right on! I agree we “make the time” because we enjoy making connections and networking. On the other hand…would those who didn’t get excited become more interested if they “practiced” for say a month with one tool (rss, tweeting, etc) in their personal lives. Hopefully this would get them “excited” about the possibilities. Instead of being burdensome, it would be a natural flow of learning being brought into the classroom.

  2. I struggle with these questions every day.
    Too many times I’ve heard things like “not everyone is like you.” (One time is one time too many.) After awhile, it’s easy to wonder if this is something of a private, personal obsession. Something idiosyncratic, like a love for a particular food, or band, or artist.
    Those thoughts are hard to bear, for two main reasons:
    1. If they’re true, and liking all this online stuff (crude phrase, reductive, not sure what else to call it now) is just about what *I* enjoy, then my sense that this is important and in fact a way to make school better for everyone is really just self-serving. Now, I don’t think these thoughts are true, but I do worry about it, mainly because I don’t take my own ideas as the gold standard for anything. Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes it’s just bad and stupidly self-defeating.
    2. If the thoughts aren’t true, and all of these technological affordances are like alphabets, printing presses–fundamental agents of change, and essential possibilities for radical and positive transformation–that is, if we really are at the turning point I think we are–then I need to make that case despite the worried voices inside and all around me. But that can be very hard. Sometimes I want to say “ok, I’m wrong, everyone go about your business” … but I don’t really believe *that* either.
    Hard to know what to believe, some days.
    But the part that won’t let me alone is the deep conviction that we’re seeing huge possibilities emerge that are connected to everything essential about our shared humanity–if we choose to see them clearly and whole.
    Every day, though, I worry and wonder.

  3. I think a large portion of teachers, especially lower-school need more like a push to get started. Making the time…guess we need some speed, then push, push, push. Perhaps we start with “speedgeeking”!

  4. I think a balance can be struck. I think I am one of the people Susan refers to :) that she knows does this but does not LOVE it. Do I like it? Yes, much of the time. But it is hard for me to make (I do not say find) the time. I leave for school at 7:15 AM, I each/meet/conference most of the day with only dips in and out of my inline networks, I come home from school at 4:15 to two children, I have a family dinner with the husband and kids (after a whole hour of time spent together doing something), the kids are in bed by say 7:00, then I have all of two hours before I crash at 9:00 to get up at 5:00 and start it all over again. And I do not write all of that to say I am unique and to ask for pity — I think I am like mos everyone else. My two open hours a day is for _all_ of me, not just the tech side of me. And as you all know well, being online consumes more time than you ever plan it to, so quickly my two hours is almost gone when I make the time for tech. I think this is worth thinking about. Just because it is not my favorite thing in the world does not make me less of a user. Instead, I think the world is not headed to everyone using technology as the main aspect of their time. I do not know if you all see that diferently though because sometimes I feel like major users do — that they expect the world to be wired in all the time in this future we are all planning for. I don’t. And if I can only _make_ the time for 2 or 3 hours of online collaborating and learning in a week, then that is what is enough. I am always behind on Twitter, I never write on my blog enough, my ning involvement is spotty at best, and my RSS reader is collecting dust most days. But my students hear from me right away in their collaborative work, and I do learn new things when I plug back in to all of the great tools waiting for me. But what is enough for the people who talk of this impending future? How do you envision people who you feel have _really embraced_ this new world? I do really want to know because I wonder this nearly every day.

  5. Melissa, you are right. Experience will change how people view this–and become a more natural way of learning, as you said. I still wonder if there isn’t some kind of a mindset that makes this a more comfortable world for some of us. Thanks for your thoughts…

  6. Melissa, I definitely don’t think you are off about this. In fact, I think it’s one of the most important things to do today — to help find and teach effective use of the media available to us (including awareness of why and when NOT to mediate our attention and communications). Anyway, I was just writing the following today for a potential blog post:
    Will our grandchildren century grow up knowing how to pluck the answer to any question out of the air, summon their social networks to assist them, organize political movements and markets online? Will they collaborate to solve problems, participate in online discussions as a form of civic engagement, share and teach and learn to their benefit and that of everyone else? Or will they grow up knowing that the online world is a bewildering puzzle to which they have few clues, a dangerous neighborhood where their identities can be stolen, a morass of spam and porn, misinformation and disinformation, urban legends, hoaxes, and scams? I have amassed evidence that the humanity or toxicity of next year’s digital culture depends to a very large degree on what we know, learn, and teach each other about how to use the one billion Internet accounts and four billion mobile phones available today.

  7. Gardner, you are right, of course. We are at a turning point, and I see the possibilities in my own classes. I take such joy in reading posts from my students like this- http://fablogs.org/ndbfa12/2009/03/28/chap-13-14/ that can be easily shared, responded to, and supported. And, of course, it is not just being “online” that matters. Connectivism changes the student-teacher relationship, the learning environment, and even assessments–everything. Ah, me. Some days it is so unsettling.

  8. Melissa, you are right. Experience will change how people view this–and
    become a more natural way of learning, as you said. I still wonder if there
    isn’t some kind of a mindset that makes this a more comfortable world for
    some of us. Thanks for your thoughts…

  9. Gardner, you are right, of course. We are at a turning point, and I see the
    possibilities in my own classes. I take such joy in reading posts from my
    students like this- http://fablogs.org/ndbfa12/2009/03/28/chap-13-14/ that
    can be easily shared, responded to, and supported. And, of course, it is not
    just being “online” that matters. Connectivism changes the student-teacher
    relationship, the learning environment, and even assessments–everything.
    Ah, me. Some days it is so unsettling.

  10. Thanks for your thoughts, Susanne. You and I have talked about this often,
    and you know I respect you as a true teacher (and learner). I love what
    you’ve pulled from your networking this year, valuable connections for you
    and your students. You won’t hear any easy solutions or answers from me on
    this one…
    My brain (gut?) tells me we are, indeed, entering a new world–filled with
    exciting possibilities but complex, complicated situations which we can’t
    envision yet (could we have ever imagined this
    <a”>http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2009/04/07/world/0407-MOLDOVA_3.html>a few
    years ago? Let’s keep the conversations going.

  11. Howard, that teaching is critical. I wonder, too, how this will play out as
    those who *do* connect effect change and those who *don’t* (or don’t do it
    effectively) are left out. This is the true digital divide, isn’t it? And
    when NOT to mediate our attention….or to use tools for all the wrong
    reasons–I suppose that’s the place to start.Thank for sharing your
    thoughts. I’ve been following you for some time…and even jumped into The
    Well once, oh so many, many years ago.

  12. yes it my tweet.
    I might ask the same question to people I perceive as fitness fanatics, avid readers or heaven forbid, golfers.
    You’re right we do things because we enjoy them. I’ve not seen someone dedicate much time to things they don’t enjoy.
    When someone says “where do you find the time?”, it implies that it’s like disposable income. Someone also might ask “How can you afford to take a trip to….?” Our family values experiences over things so while we may not have new or expensive vehicles, we travel a fair bit, we choose to spend our money that way.
    We make time for what we value. Not profound but is the response I add to the question of where we find time.

  13. What we value…yes, that’s it. And given that teachers are all in very different places in their lives, what people value differs. And I love what you said about your own family–value experience over things.

  14. Not a simple response at all — one that highlights the divide with any activity. People who love something do it all that they can. People who value something do it as much as they need to — and I do think there is a difference there. You can value something that you do not enjoy (exercise is this for many people). So, you do it enough to get the benefits. And I think this gets back to my question above (and sorry for all of those typos up there — ugh). For those of you who value AND love the online world, can people also do it enough to get the value? I think you can — I can find great ideas and connect when I need to, but what I struggle with is the daily personal connections. I have to be honest when I say I hardly do well connecting with my family every day, so I do not want to make the time for online people in this way. I value the learning I can do, and I know they are very nice people who, at another stage in my life, I would probably be friends with, but not right now. So, I do what I need to stay a little linked in and focus on the collaborating that I enjoy the most which is with my students as they exploe their work. That (my class ning, my email) is always where I go first when I go online.

  15. My face also lights up when I talk about “this stuff” and when others ask how I find the time, I remember my beginnings–I made a small investment and found myself mightily rewarded for it. Soon, I was sold on the notion of contributing to and growing within my own learning network online. It’s really rewarding–for me.
    I do question whether or not it is necessary or even possible for *everyone* to embrace “this stuff” in the end though. For example, I know that kids are more connected, that it is engaging for all in some ways and for some in all ways, but I work with many children and have a couple of my own. I’m not so sure that “this stuff” is the all-or-nothing proposition some might have us think it is. My kids are pretty tech-savvy for their ages, but it isn’t their favorite way to engage with others, and it isn’t their favorite way to learn either.
    There is much to be learned from those who aren’t passionate about what happens via the web, and there is much for kids to do and accomplish that has little to do with what happens here. I think we all have a responsibility to tap into the diverse expertise and passions of those we work with and serve. This isn’t to say we have a choice when it comes to creating tech-literate kids….that’s a non-negotiable. But I agree that this isn’t the end-all be-all.
    I think it’s important that we meet the people we serve–adults and kids alike–where they are at. I try to value people for all they bring to the table…regardless of whether or not we are interested in the same things. Ironically, if this hadn’t been my approach from the start, I wouldn’t have ever found myself here. Someone whose passions were different from mine introduced me to the web.

  16. Susan,
    I think what you love about this is the relationships forged and the thrill of changing the world together. Education is about relationships. Emerging technologies afford us the ability to connect and develop relationships (through which we learn and grow) with a dizzying speed and grace.
    What’s not to love about that?

  17. Angela, I appreciate what you’ve said–stepping back to learn from people where they are. And Sheryl is right in her comment below–it’s about the relationships for me. I do feel that we may be headed into a future where people will learn and grow online in ways we’ve never imagined. And we need to prepare our students for that. Right now we are at a divide.

  18. Yes, relationships. As Howard said above–using our social networks to assist us to learn and grown. And, of course, the friendships that are formed in this challenge to do something better for our kids. Absolutely.

  19. No, Susan, you’re not way off. Making the shift is easier for people so inclined. And yes, many good teachers who know they are not so inclined will dutifully push themselves out of their comfort zone because they recognize that these tools matter to their students, and they will achieve a measure of proficiency that students will recognize.
    Years ago, I made myself read a lot of fantasy fiction, even though I despised it, because my fourth graders loved it. I learned to understand why they liked it, even though I didn’t. Teachers everywhere do this sort of thing all the time.
    I guess I just worry about the handful of folks who just want to ignore the whole thing. Our kids can’t really afford that, no more than we can afford teachers who would choose not to teach writing because they weren’t good at it themselves. I think it’s become a matter of basic professional competence at this point.

  20. Great examples, Curt. The onus is on us to do this for our kids, isn’t it? That handful is problematic, and until we as professionals use these guiding principals, that handful will be allowed to pretend it doesn’t matter.

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