Monday, February 15, 2016

Kindness Matters

Flying home today, My Wife and I stopped in a restaurant at the Phoenix airport.  As I looked at the menu, My Wife noticed a gentleman having a conversation with our waitress.  My Wife nudged me and I started to listen to their conversation.  It became clear in minutes, that the gentleman was not able to pay the bill.  He was using the waitress's cell phone, trying to make a phone call to get someone to help him pay his bill.  What got My Wife's attention was when the manager became a part of the conversation to say, "The problem here is that if you don't pay this, then she'll (the waitress) have to."

There are many, many reasons why I fell in love with My Wife.  What happened next, epitomizes who My Wife is.  She leaned into me and said, "Let's pay the bill for this guy.  I don't want to have that waitress stuck with the bill."  Kindness matters.

A little kindness does go a long way.  Whether to a complete stranger or to our students or to our own family, kindness matters in relationships.  I recently read an article in The Atlantic that attested to the fact that kindness & generosity are the science of lasting relationships.

Celebrating Valentine's Day, admittedly a Hallmark holiday, causes us to think about the relationships in our lives.  What I learned from the example that My Wife today and this article I read is that kindness matters.  So whether with your family, your students, or strangers, practice kindness to maintain and improve the relationships in your life.

As superintendent, a substantial part of my role has to do with relationships.  It is my job to make sure that people feel heard when they come to meet with me.  We don't always have to agree but I do expect that people can leave my office feeling heard.  Today I was reminded by My Wife, in the most wonderful and simple way that even with random strangers, kindness matters.  Be kind!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Do You Just Tweet All Day?

I was leading an in-service recently in Montpelier Public Schools on Twitter.  The goal for the participants in each session was simple: do something on Twitter they had never done before.  For some folks, this meant signing up for the first time.  For others, this meant enhancing their online profile or presence.  For others, this meant learning more about the use of hashtags.  Finally, for others this meant gaining a better understanding of tagging other users in tweets. 

For each session, I toggled between using my presentation on Haiku Deck (click here to see the presentation) and my own Twitter feed.  During one session, my feed was on the projector and a tweet came up.  Someone in the room noticed and said, “Hey, how did you do that?  You’re right here with us and you weren’t typing.”

I explained to the group that I use a platform called Hootsuite.  This allows me to post to multiple social media sites (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook) with one step.  It is an efficient way to take advantage of the unique aspects of each social media platform.  One of the features of Hootsuite is “Autoschedule,” which allows Hootsuite to schedule the post for some time in the future.  I utilize this feature often – which means I can be having a conversation with you and posting an article that I’m interested in at the same time. 

One of the teachers in the room mentioned to me that it would be wise for me to share this in one of my blog posts.  And so this blog post was born. 

Let me be clear that I firmly believe in the value of social media and Twitter specifically.  It is a tremendous opportunity for high quality professional development that can take place at your convenience.  As my colleague Mike Martin (@Mike_MPS) often points out social media allows you to connect with someone on the basis of the merit of the idea.  It’s not about positions, titles, or years of experience.  It is about learning with other people and finding ways to better serve students, colleagues and communities. 

To that end, please celebrate the following MPS teachers, new to the Twitter family:

Emily Wrigley (@emiwrigs)
Emmanuel Riby-Williams (@EmmanuelRiby)
Eileen Wildman (@Eileen_Wildman)
Linda Dostie (@LindaDostie)
Michael Baginski (@MichaelBaginski)
Heather Bates (@heatherbvt)
Joseph Carroll (@iosephus1217)
Chris Hennessey (@UESChris)
Samantha Funk (@TheWiseMusician)
Marie Jennings (@MJvt2016)
Pamela Arnold (@pjarnold15)
Amy Kimball (@vtamyk)
Sarah Loveless (@SarahLCBL)

Welcome them to Twitter, follow them, connect and engage with them.  Show these professionals the power of connecting on the basis of the merit of the idea.  And show them that we do so much more than just tweet.