They See Us.

(This was the basis for my #140edu presentation called “They See Us” delivered on July 31, 2012 at the 92nd Street Y.  Slides for that presentation are found here)

My wife and I haven’t finished a conversation in nearly eight years.

What I mean is that the same conversations keep happening on a fairly regular basis–a sort of marital Groundhog day in which, our thoughts, still as profound as they were back when we first met, are never fully finished.  Rather, they are partly made then broken off as one or another emergency shrieks in from the outside:

  • Charlie poured the water from the tub into several of the small mini-Tupperware cups that Audrey set up for him on rim of the tub.
  • Parker got a bug lodged so far back in his eye that we actually couldn’t see it anymore.
  • Audrey hasn’t found the matching dance outfit and leggings to wear to the playground, because, everyone knows, and they really do, that you always wear leggings, a dance outfit, and rain-boots to the playground.  Sheesh, Dad.


We’ve practiced the art of relationship bookmarking–a highly adapted social skill in which you can pick up the fragments of interrupted conversations, often days later, and not have missed more than a few gist’s or so.  We have it down to an exact science.

Both of us being educators, our friends, parents and extended have some unique expectations for our kids.  They live with the stigma that they probably will do well in school because we are teachers and that they will love school because we obviously did. They also get the unique perks of having parents that are teachers: an odd love of stickers that smell or shine, the perpetual reliance on a 10-month calendar that no one else in the world above the age of 22 uses.

And we are hyper-aware of this, and our experience with our two oldest children and school has been rife with situations where we ask ourselves if the problem merits further looking into or whether it’s just a blip that the teacher shouldn’t be bothered with.

And it is those blips that began the stunted conversation that led to me being here.

It’s true that you are never the same once again as a person after having a child of your own.  I’m not here to argue that point.  What I do believe now is that after our children were born, our ideas about teaching changed.  It’s not as if having children suddenly opened up our empathetic pathways and we saw the light, but rather that certain things sharpened.

Our aspect ratio changed.

We realized we had some things to more consciously consider as we went back to our work as teachers.

Be present

We learned that we needed to be present when we were home.  We learned that the example we set in terms of our attention span and the gadgets that we have is of the utmost importance with our kids.

The same is true for the students we have.  We wanted to make sure our students feel like they have all of us, all the time.  There have been countless examples we remembered where a student wanted our attention and we just didn’t give it, or gave it with the most horrible body language.

We could see the message were sending when we were either plugged into our devices or too preoccupied with our own lives to be present in theirs, and we didn’t like it.  We are consciously aware of how much they matter and that what they say has value.

Be the teacher that you would want your child spending 45-40 hours a week with.

Both of us now work, and our kids are either in school or in childcare while we are there.  A typical day for us gives them a full eight hours in the care of another in one day.

Our children spend close to 25% of their week in the care of their teachers.

As we prepared for this, we really began to see how many of our students’ parents were in the same position.  How would that shape the work we did?

The time they spend with us has to be a time that is sacred, anticipated and adored.  Everything from the things we learn about to the space we learn in have to be designed with the idea that our job is to make them matter.  To make them love to learn and be with us.  Parents drop off their most prized possession every morning to us and say, “please take care of them and teach them,” and it’s our responsibility to to do just that.

Make the work matter

Parker, our seven-year-old, loves math.  Neither my wife nor I can figure out a) why he likes it so much, and b) where those tendencies stem from as not one of us can think our way out of a matrices or balance an equation to save our lives.  However, even he was struggling with measurement last year.  He muddled through that unit, with my wife and I being of whatever consolation we could, but did not truly grasp the concepts.

Then, in June, after school let out, our neighbor’s son learned from a cousin of his that you could make wallets out of duct tape, and he and Parker began asking if my wife if she could teach them how to do it.  Enter the world’s newest teaching tool–YouTube– and within minutes the three of them were on their way to learning how to make wallets out of duct tape.  But, each video stressed the need to be precise in the length of each piece of tape used to make the wallets.  Guess who learned measurement?

We both realized that the work we ask our students to do in school should at least make an effort at reaching kids where the duct tape wallets did for Parker.  Does it matter to them in a way that would push them to learn more about it on their own?

kids can see through it from a very early age.

Deliver the Goods

If you say you are going to do it, do it.  Nothing eats at me worse than when I make a promise to my kids that I don’t deliver on.  It doesn’t matter if the reason for not delivering is a natural disaster, seeing them disappointed is difficult to bear.

A wise colleague of mine told me when I arrived in a new district to spend the first year listening to the various constituents within that district and ask them what is one thing I could do to make their jobs easier.  Then, after listening, spend the next year trying to make that one thing happen for that group.

We need to be wary of the promises we make to children, because we as adults have learned that there is disappointment all around.  But the children we teach have not.  Let’s not be their first lesson in it.

 

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One Month in the Cloud

It’s been a month with the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook.  In late December, I made the move away from my Macbook and decided I’d test out whether or not I could use the cloud solely as a means to get my work done.  Granted, moving to an internet-only machine was a big leap, as I could have done it gradually via a regular machine.  Or was it?

To provide some backing to this, here’s a quick pro/con list:

Pros:

  • It works, mostly. I have some issues with the wireless network at my office, but other than that, it hangs in there really well.
  • Integration of all things Google. The ability to work within Google Docs seamlessly and create my file structure so that regardless of the machine I am on I can access my exact browser is amazing. I know you can do this with other non-Chromebook type machines through the browser, but this simplifies things.
  • Form factor. It’s lean, light, and solid–one of those machines you wouldn’t worry too much about dropping by accident.
  • Independence.  I’ve never been one to rely heavily on a “networked” machine, but this takes the cake.  The only reliance I had was to use the desktop machine in my office to set up the printer via Google Cloud Print.  Once that was done, I was able to live solely on the wireless within the buildings I work in.

Cons:

  • Hangs when I am really pushing it with open tabs. I’ve never been one to watch the CPU performance of a machine, but with this, I am aware of how many open tabs I am running. Which, when you think about it, is just good practice anyway–teaches me to bite off only what I plan to chew on in the short term.
  • Extensions cause more problems than they solve. Most of the crashes or hangups I have seem to be coming from extensions that hang up or just die.
  • Graphics chip. I use a larger monitor at work, and I love to extend my desktop. The graphics in the chromebook don’t allow for that, only mirroring.

After one month the pros definitely outweigh the cons.  This machine works exactly as I need it to, when I need it to.  I’ve presented from it, written from it, uploaded photos and videos, and asked it to do everything I need from a machine at this point.  True, video editing and anything requiring Java are not options, but in one month, the only time I needed to do either was to view a webinar, and in retrospect it really wasn’t worth it (are they ever?).

The next big step with these is to see how they roll out to staff and students.  Where do they fit?  Are they legitimate teacher machines?  Or are they a better fit for students?  Would love some feedback.

Culling the Story from the Sources

If ever there was a time to be good at telling stories, it is now.

For the past two weeks, I have been attending the James Madison Seminar in American History at Princeton University.  We’ve been immersed in the elements surrounding the birth of our nation, most specifically how the ideas of Republicanism, Liberalism, and the Enlightenment all had tremendous influence over the founding of our nation.

Most of what we have done has been fairly traditional: we’ve sat in class and been talked to, albeit by some talented and learned folks.

Today, however, looked and felt very different.

We spent the day at the Philadelphia Museum of Art exploring collections within the museum and architecture in nearby Fairmount Park.  Doing so amounted, in my opinion to some real moments of clarity regarding what we do as teachers, and specifically as teachers of history.

One of our guides, Justina Barrett, took us through two homes in Fairmount Park managed by the museum: Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove.  The houses were distinctly different in their architecture and function, but Ms. Barrett, in her discussion of the homes crystallized something for me.  On the second floor of Mount Pleasant, she asked us a simple question about how they came to know what each of the rooms functioned as during the initial life of the home (over 225 years ago).  With that question as a springboard, she spoke about how the job of a historian, especially art/architectural historians is to cull the story from the homes, the historical record, and each room individually.  Her main role, and that of teachers of history for that matter, is to deduce an interpretation of what happened right from the primary sources.

Think about that.

We laugh at how little people in later life remember of the “stuff” of history, but I ask, if they forgot a good amount of the stuff, but could still distill a relevant story from several sources, was the stuff important?

Secondly, during our time in the museum itself, we examined the following works:

I’d forgotten what it was like to sit around with a group of intelligent folks and dissect a work of art, fully basking in the multitude of perspectives each one of us brings to the painting.  The work of Peale astounded me, and as our guide, Mary Teeling, explained, brought forth so many of the ideals we have spent time studying over the course of the last two weeks.  Peale was a natural philosopher, a true enlightened man, who brought into his work the polymathic principles of the period.

Ms. Teeling asked us to examine these pieces with playfulness, to see what came to us and what struck us.  We took stabs, we built off of one another, we contradicted one another.  I thought for a while on the way home about how much fun that was to project out those thoughts and then listen as the group interpreted them or rejected them.

Sadly, in education, whether in teaching our students or in collaborating with colleagues, we rarely get that time to build what is known as neuroplasticity–that time we take to re-shape our minds through engaging play.  Today provided a window into that for me once again, and gave me that time to wrangle with some conflicting ideas, and it took a visual medium to do that.

The Nerd Knack.

I’ve talked about it before here, this idea of withitness that is truly hard to quantify when it comes to teaching, but I think it coincides nicely with the idea below.  Both Dr. Cleeves and “Frank” would be traditionally characterized as “nerds” both by physical appearance and society’s intellectual qualifications.  Kids react one of two ways to teachers of this ilk: embrace or terrorize.

Dr. Cleeves was wicked smart.  So smart, in fact, that he held several patents that he created during his time in the pharmaceutical industry, a bit of information he shared with us on the first day of microbiology in my Junior year of high school.

“Frank” was wicked smart too.  His collection of jarred specimens in formaldehyde gave his room a distinct Shelley-esque feeling as I sat raptured in both his Biology class as a sophomore, and Anatomy class as a senior.  That coupled with his encyclopedic knowledge of tissues, organs and systems clearly matched the degrees that hung on the wall of his office.

Both men had obvious intelligence, and the paperwork to prove it.  One was a great teacher and had to fight off students trying to get a moment of his time during his prep periods.  The other didn’t make it past November before a student lit up a cigarette with her Bunsen burner.

What separated the two clearly knowledgeable men?  Simple.

The Nerd Knack.

Dr. Cleeves provided us with a wealth of content knowledge about the inner workings o single-celled and simple life forms and showed us proper procedures for working in a lab; however, we never knew him.  We never saw him as someone who was in it for us.  He loved science, he loved figuring things out, but he lacked the capacity to share that passion with us.  Soon enough, once the initial politeness of being in the presence of a learned person wore off, students were figuring out ways to disrupt his thought process away from nucleotides and towards the nonsense happening between the aisles.

“Frank,” played it entirely differently.  From the moment you walked in, your name changed to something associated with either what you did outside of school, a sibling that had gone through the school, or something he noticed about you.  How did he find this stuff out?  Because he cared to know who you were and where you came from.  Whereas Dr. Cleeves was literal in his definitions, “Frank” was descriptive and hyperbolic, often taking the time to find obscure images of things such as filarial worms, or onchocerciasis (all really, really nasty things that leave lasting impressions on adolescent minds).

One taught science, the other taught kids.  And we understood the difference right away.

Selling Their Wares

Last Sunday featured an interesting article in the New York Times by Winnie Hu, “Selling Lessons Online Raises Cash and Questions,” in which she unveiled, at least to me, that the sale of finished lessons by teachers is a booming business.  I knew it was possible to purchase lesson plans online, but I had no idea that is was actually a profitable endeavor.  Some of the teachers profiled are making a killing.

As the title suggests, there are a lot of issues that this brings up for society as a whole.  There are the usual:

“To the extent that school district resources are used, then I think it’s fair to ask whether the district should share in the proceeds,” said Robert N. Lowry, deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents.

regarding the intellectual property of teachers in which they use the resources that taxpayers provide them with to turn a personal profit.  And there are the professional, brought up by Joseph McDonald, a professor at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University:

“Teachers swapping ideas with one another, that’s a great thing,” he said. “But somebody asking 75 cents for a word puzzle reduces the power of the learning community and is ultimately destructive to the profession.”

This one hits at home a little for me, which after my initial shock at the dollar amounts that could be made subsided, was the next gut reaction.  Does the fact that we are no longer just sharing through our networks cloud the nature of collaboration?  Or does the minimal dollar amount automatically take that off the table?  Some may not see the harm in paying an iTunes-equivalent fee for a great stock lesson on Beowulf, but the cumulative effect could be much greater.

Where I am with this as I right this in a wholly new direction, however.  Could this be the beginning of freelance teaching?  a return to the time when a teacher found a good spot in the center of town and hung up a sign that said “Great knowledge here.  Be enlightened for small fee?”  This sounds odd, yes, but think of how easy it is to set up an online portal that tracks student progress, provides immediate feedback, exposes their work to a global audience, and allows for real-time collaboration and communication.  It’s something we all might be able to create with a web server, a good friend who can code and will work for food and beer, and a little marketing savvy.  Is this the future of learning as we know it?

We are still in the infancy of online learning and virtual schools, but as we see more teachers and schools embrace it, the shift may be for teachers to gather together and form their own schools this way, because, let’s face it, it’s not rocket science to set up these portals.  Also, how many teachers that you know truly believe there is a better way to do things than is being done in the schools they work in?  This might just be the way to create the schools they want to create, or at least one in which they have the locus of control.

Seth Godin has been quoted as saying the following:

If you think the fallout from the newspaper industry was dramatic, wait until you see what happens in education.

Could this be what he was talking about?

Late edit to this post:  Larry Cuban has an excellent view on the call for technology to change schools that fits nicely with this post here.

Anagnoresis and Peripiteia

In my house, we are huge fans of Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel (we call it “Yucky Jobs”).  I saw his name pop up in my iTunes library the other day in my TED Talks subscription and I wondered what this was going to be about.

Rowe speaks of two elements that arrived in his mind at a moment that no one can likely relate to.  These elements, anagnoresis and peripiteia, which I am sure I once used in a literary analysis back in the day, both deal with Aristotelian tragedy.  Anagnoresis, which is a literary device used to show how the protagonist moves from ignorance to discovery, Rowe used to describe the awakening he had at the moment when he was illuminated by his faulty reasoning, and peripiteia, the point in a tragedy whereby the tragic lead realizes the irony of the moment he or she is in (think Oedipus realizing that his wife is not who he thinks she is), he shows us that there may be a whole string of faulty reasonings that underpin his belief system.

Heady, I know.

The idea that it takes a moment of unexpected clarity or irony to show us our flawed assumptions is scary, in that we could last a long time in our own rut until that moment occurs.  Rowe’s ultimeate discovery is that he feels he should challenge all of his “platitudes.”  For example, in the talk, Rowe points out that if people took the advice and “followed their passion,” we would have a whole lot of economic difficulty within this country.  See this pig farmer’s story. Rather than follow a passion, what if we just “looked and saw which direction everyone else is moving in, and moved the other way.”  What if we just analyzed situations to find where the needs were, and acted upon that?

His ultimate understanding was this:

dirtyjobs

As I watched the talk and gained a new appreciation for Mike and the show, I did what I always end up doing–I related it to my own work.  What if the ideas I hold dear in education, the very things I have been focusing on over the last few years, are wrong?

It made me go back to my notes from BLC last summer.  I’ve mentioned this before, but on the last day of the conference I hadn’t planned on attending Dr. Pedro Noguera‘s keynote, but I ended up there.  Three things I wrote in my notes were triggered by what Rowe talked about:

  • Too often we use this equation: Talking=Teaching.
  • We shouldn’t be asking what does good teaching look like, but rather what does good learning look like.
  • We need to connect the way we teach to the way they learn.

I hadn’t thought about Noguera’s ideas that much lately, and hearing Rowe talk about anagnoresis and peripiteia brought them back.  What is it about education that causes you to lose focus on the big ideas that should be driving you?  I’d like to shift the focus onto student learning; I’d like to be listening to students the way Ryan has been and getting feedback from students on how they learn best, and I’d like to share that information with teachers that will act on it.  These are the types of discoveries that lead to real change.

I am guilty of trying to find out what “good teaching” looks like through my observation of teachers.  Perhaps I should have been looking at what the students were doing.

Open Letter to the Teacher who said “I Hate Technology.”

Dear Teacher who Said “I hate technology,”

First of all, I want to thank you for your candor and your willingness to openly share your opinion regarding the use of tools for learning.  I am a firm believer that we should all have an open forum for expressing our opinions about our profession and the factors that influence it.  That is why I am writing here.

Rather than do what most readers of this letter are expecting me to do and refute your claims, I have to admit that I concur–I hate it too.  Yes, I must admit, that comes as surprise, I am sure, but something tells me that our reasons for this shared loathing will not be the same.  Let me share mine with you and then we can have an informed discussion to compare and contrast.

First, I cannot stand that I have had to give up hours of painstakingly annotating papers with carefully crafted comments and editing marks.  I’ll miss that fullness of self when I return the essays and research papers back to the students and they scurrilously thumb to the last page, jettisoning any comment or edit I made, to find out their total score on the paper.

Secondly, the fact that there will be conversations about topics in my class that occurr UNABATED and not in my presence is inconceivable and incorrigible.  Thoughts about the content of my class that do not occur during the sanctity of my 50 minute class period belong either as one-on-one conversations with me in the hallway, clearly stated on their homework papers, or held onto in the working memory of the student until the next class period or hallway conversation with me.

Lastly, the assignment of group projects should be a rite of passage that includes several if not all of the following situations for students: one student should do most of the work including but not limited to: writing, researching, organizing, and assigning ancillary roles to other team members, one student should lose the flash drive that has the slide presentation at least once during the assignment duration, one student, most likely the one who pulls down 30+ hours at the local burger joint, should not be able to meet with the rest of the group at any time outside of school, provided the other group members athletics and extracurricular activities schedules do not preclude any outside of the classroom meetings.  Additionally, I should not be able to see the extent to which each of these students worked on the project until the very end of the process.

As you can see, my role as a teacher is being compromised by the intrusion of tools that render aspects of my daily goings-on as obsolete.  This I won’t stand for.  Plus, adding to my ire is the fact that there is all of this talk about new definitions of literacy.  Reading is no longer just the deconstruction and reconstruction of text, but now I am being asked to help students make sense of rich media, data sets that are visualized, and more streams of immediate news and information on a daily basis.  If you ask me, there is just a whole lot of noise.  What do you say we just don’t listen to it?

We had teachers growing up who were able to teach us the finer points of composing, of calculation, of geography, and the greater literary works of both North America and Europe, yet their technology was limited to chalk, and blessed be, an overhead projector.  Can’t we do as much or more with the same?

So I am with you, I think, in resisting this move, and I’ll do just what’s mandated of me by my building principal.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go close my classroom door…

Cross-posted at Ecology of Education and TechLearning.

It’s OK. You Can Let Go.

Last year, I used a book on assessment from Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey in a study group with teachers.  When I saw their name attached to this morning’s panel discussion on Literacy in the 21st Century, I was intrigued.  My thinking was that they would have some great foundational elements to add to the what I’ve been thinking lately.

What happened was much more than what I thought.  Amy Sandvold, a colleague of Angela Maiers, was also on the panel as well.  Here is what I pulled out.

Fisher, Frey and Sandvold advocated a Gradual Release of Responsibility in the relationship between teachers and students.

grrA few years back, when I really began this journey, I saw Alan November present about the need for teachers to outsource what they do to the students to prevent them from being the only voice in the classroom.  What they advocated and described here is exactly that.  Focused instruction, according to Fisher, is pointed modeling of expert thinking and behavior. It’s in this mode of instruction where we help students build the requisite background knowledge and vocabulary they need for success in higher level tasks.  This argument, which is raging throughout the educational world right now, about content v. skills, then becomes moot.  Is there direct instruction in this model?  Absolutely, but it is followed by gradually removing the emphasis on what you as a teacher do in front of your students.  Once you model and instruct, move into more collaborative and shared modes of teaching and learning, until the end result is full on student responsibility.

And this from Frey:

Students and teachers must know stuff in order to do stuff.
Teachers now stuff.
Students know stuff too
Teachers and students learn from one another by interacting and collaborating.

I truly believe that learning takes place in many forms and through many processes.  One that I will recommend to anyone is that of conversation and communal learning among students and teachers.  Even today, sitting there discussing our greatest learning experience we ever had (my partner had a great one where she remembers finally being able to move from snow-plow skiing to parallel skiing), I didn’t realize my own until we began talking to others in the room and listening to the stories of people learning.  Collaboration is a powerful tool for learning.

There is so much more to come out of this session, but I am finding that it’s hard to process, especially in light of what occurred directly after this session.  That’s coming too.

Energizers

The other day in our New Teacher meeting, we used one of my favorite “tricks:” we asked them to move about the room once or twice within the session.  Movement is often the antipathy of teachers within cramped classrooms, and having traveled to buildings within my district and others, I can see that schools are becoming increasingly full of “things” and “stuff.”  It’s time to clear a path and let the students move about the room.

One of the teachers who was present at the meetings on Monday forwarded me this article from today’s New York Times by Tara Parker-Pope: “The 3 R’s? A Fourth Is Crucial, Too: Recess”.  Parker-Pope points to several studies conducted within the last year about the overall effect that play, specifically scheduled recess time, has on academic performance and on behavior.  While she may be preaching to the choir in my case, I still appreciated the fact that one of the teachers in the session found this and thought back to what we did.  Someone pulled something from the day, thank goodness!

I have spent many sessions at this keyboard pouring my energy into writing about the shifting of our pedagogy to include the connective capabilities of social technology, and not for naught; it is essential that we engage our students with meaningful and actionable content, and there are myriad ways to do that now.  However, when we think of dynamic and lasting educational experiences and the types of classrooms we will need to do achieve these new learning goals, I think of rooms that are open, and able to encourage movement.  I think of teachers free to station themselves in several points in the classroom, not chained to one area where the laptop plugs in.  I think of students with seating areas able to be joined and separated into many configurations.  Our spaces need to be opened up, and our students need to be moved around in them.  My wife tells the story of sitting in district meetings for eight hours at a clip, in a room with no windows, and never getting up to move for the duration.  I would be angry, or void of emotion.  But I certainly would not retain half of what you asked me to.

So the next time you are with your students, incorporate some form of physical movement to “change their state.” Have them at some point perform a function that you need them to do anyway, but add something physical to it.  We want them to discuss the theme in the novel.  Have them do it as they walk around the building on a nice day.  Bring them back to the room and ask for a pair share, then whole group discussion.  Or use some body voting to lead to discussion of a current events issue (Do you agree that bailing out major banking institutions is the right thing to do?) See what you get.

Kill the Mothership

I just did a cursory search on the web and within the edublogs I troll for the above phrase.  Kendall Crolius, one of the Friday night panelists at EduCon 2.1 dropped that expression on all of us in the audience in reference to how to innovate.  I can’t stand how cool it sounds, so I named this post after it.

Here was the context in which it was uttered: the panel was asked what the purpose of school is, and in their various answers, the responses between them and the interplay with the audience, someone asked if innovation and change were possible within the current model of schooling in America.  Crolius responded with a reference to Clayton Christensen’s work via Disrupting Class; Christensen states that the companies that are serious about innovation and change that focus on disruptive innovation especially do so by creating rogue “mini-companies” whose sole responsibility it is to innovate, and in essence “kill the mothership” by changing market dynamics.  Think of telecom companies in the early 1990’s.  Those companies that were able to devote time, resources and cutting-edge thinking to developing cellular technologies were ready when the use of these devices became as easy or easier than traditional telephony.

We have been squawking about our pockets of innovation within our buildings, or within certain geographic areas around the world as problematic.  After hearing this take on it, I think we are underestimating what we have.  While threats to the monolithic structure of public education are nowhere on the horizon as we speak, I can see a future where students whose teachers expose them to social networking tools and leverage them in a way that allows them to take charge of their own learning do not stand for rows, chairs, and textbook learning as the sole basis for their learning.  They won’t stand for the idea that the person in the room with them holding the teaching certificate is the last word on any topic.

These pockets we talk about, these teachers who are pushing against drill-and-kill test prep and standardized curriculum, are our rogues.  Where on this continuum are your pockets that you work with, or where do you think you fit?  Listening to the idea as espoused by Crolius on the panel truly made me feel like I lead two lives: I support these pockets with energy and by removing obstacles, yet work very hard to maintain somewhat of a status quo with the majority of the staff I work with.  Yes, we are pushing upward and advancing their craft through various professional development and discourse (as indicated by the linear usage lines above) but it’s the innovators that are advancing at the exponential rate.  In the end, how I support them and push that curve above the “most demanding use” line will determine how I view my success.