Fake it ’til You Make it

Have you ever had someone tell you that they were surprised about some part of you? For me, it is that I am an introvert. As an introvert, I do not like big crowds. I also am not a fan of speaking to people I don’t know, but I am an educator and frequently not only teach, but also speak at conferences. I am a big believer in faking it ’til you make it. Public speaking is terrifying to me, but I do it all the time. Here is a story about my last experience:

My last conference speaking session was to a packed room of library staff at our state conference. They even had to bring in more chairs! Before the session started, I was shaking. I didn’t recognize a single person in the room. I wasn’t positive that I could remember my notes. What if something I said offended someone? What if I went under time? What if I went over time? What if something went wrong? Well, what if everything went right?

My topic was on workplace creativity. I had attended a session at that very conference the year before on a similar topic, but I left the session feeling like it was all fluff. So I decided to take a risk (one of the facets of creativity) and apply to be a speaker at the conference the next year. So I did…and it got accepted. I didn’t know if I was excited or scared out of my wits.

I got lucky though that I got to present my topic at an annual meeting with our trustees. I was the keynote speaker. Here was a group that I was familiar with, but I was still nervous. I had scripted out my talk, but it was a little short. My director told me that would be fine since it would leave time for questions and one of our other speakers might actually run over. Well, you know you are doing something right when you have a group of trustees taking notes on what you are saying. Plus, they had a lot of questions. That trial run gave me a little more confidence that my topic and content would be good, but I felt like it was a little too static. So I borrowed from another facet of creativity and improved upon the original. With a few tweaks, I interspersed a little humor and audience interaction into my talk.

That session with the trustees was small compared to the session at the conference. Honestly, I was surprised by the number of people who had started trickling in for my session. I watched as the seats all began to fill. The size of the room meant I was going to have to use the microphone (something I hate doing), which meant I was going to have to sit at a table at the front of the room since that is how the AV had been set up. I admit I have a loud Jersey voice, but it is not always loud enough.

The first five minutes, I was shaking, but my voice was strong. I had done this before, I could do it again. At one point, my iPad decided to restart which meant I did not have my notes. So I winged it. I told an anecdotal story to illustrate the point I had been making. Everything was fine. People were laughing. No one was leaving the room. I had made it to the half-way point and everything was still smooth. I kept my eyes on the clock. I was getting confident and I think that is where I messed up because my passion for my topic started showing. In the end, I skipped three slides and still went over by three minutes. Reading the surveys after the session, half thought it was perfect and half thought it was too academic, but overall, everyone liked it. I also received two offers to speak again. So it was a win.

But why am I telling you all this? In her book, Presence, Amy Cuddy talks about striking a Superman pose for just a couple of minutes. Hands on hips, back straight, chin slightly tilted, and feet set apart. By taking this confident stance, we are sending our brain a signal that we are confident. I wish I had remembered this before my presentation, but I didn’t. It was okay though because after I got started, everything worked out. The hard part is taking that first step. No one else knows that you are shaking up there. If you show you are confident on the outside, that confidence will kick in on the inside too. By the time I was into the flow of my presentation, I was confident. Heck, I even suggested bringing this session to another conference in the Fall. But, well, we will see.

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Personal Learning Networks

As was mentioned in a previous post, one of my classes this quarter is on Social Media. More specifically, it is about social media usage in K-12 schools. Since I do not work in a school system, I approach the topic more as someone who collaborates with schools and that is kinda how I approach my Personal Learning Network (PLN). The people in your PLN should extend beyond your current field or friends. But I am getting ahead of myself…

So what is a PLN? Let’s start first with the PLE- Personal Learning Environment

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Everyone’s PLE is going to look a little different.

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This is what mine looks like:

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I have it broken down into five sections: Resources, Curation, Networks, Communication, and Locations. Your PLE is always in flux and could change depending on what resources are available to you, your current interests, or even your current career. For example, in my course, we are using Wikispaces, but the platform has just announced that they will shutter the site this summer. This reminds me a lot of the Digital Media Concepts and Production course I took as part of my graduate degree. I was introduced to a lot of great resources, but many of them don’t exist now because they merged with other products, the company was sold or went bankrupt, or there just is no more interest in it. Then there are some that we think are gone, but still exist…did you know MySpace is still up and running?

Now to focus on the network part of the PLE, we have the PLN:

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There are three types of PLNs: Synchronous- meaning real-time, Asynchronous- meaning not in real-time, and Semi-synchronous which is a blend of the two. This blog is an example of asynchronous.  If you visited my social media links, those would be semi-synchronous because we could connect in real-time or play a virtual version of phone-tag. *hint* I am usually always online with either a tablet, a phone, or a computer somewhere close by. So there is a good chance you will catch me via one of the social networks.

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Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook make up a big part of my PLN. I try to keep everything separate depending on the platform. For example, Facebook is for friends and family, though I have been branching out to include some private FB groups related to blogging. Next is LinkedIn which I keep strictly professional. I will connect with librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, publishers, and many others related to my scope of professional interest like educators, STEM, training, etc. I find people through conferences, trainings I have attended, and even follow several authors. Twitter is a mish-mash of the two. My Twitter contains people I know in real life, but also many others that I have never met. Some I follow for entertainment…my current Twitter obsession is following David Harbour’s adventures with his Twitter ReTweet challenges.

I am waiting for those “dad dance” pics with the penguins…

Then there are others that I follow for professional reasons such as the current Kid Lit controversy about notable male children’s authors sexually harassing other authors.

While I don’t attend the conferences mentioned in the articles, it is important that as a librarian, I am aware of stuff like this. This is why it is important to have people in your network from outside of your silo.

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I admit that I am not very active on the socializing part when it comes to using my Social Networks to their best advantages. I am working on that. In the meantime…

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Sometimes just observing can be okay while you figure out what is okay and what is not for a particular platform or group.

The International Society for Technology in Education (ITSE) has developed standards when it comes to technology usage in education. As a student, I think I am rocking it as far as the standards are concerned. This blog has gone a long way towards helping that along with sharing information and trying towards being a global collaborator. I teach at the graduate and professional levels rather than K-12, so the teacher standards also look pretty good to me, but that is because I have a lot of resources available to me. I teach via virtual classrooms and learning management platforms on a regular basis, so technology and my teaching are pretty integrated. Many of my students are current or future media specialists, so we try to also include resources that they can use in the schools (which is why I am taking a school focused Social Media course).

One thing I have learned is that when you plan on using a particular social media tool, plan on a backup as well. Last time I taught my grad course, we planned on using VoiceThread which allows you to narrate slides via a cloud upload. It only worked for half the students. So I quickly came up with an alternate submission platform using the course’s discussion boards. Now when I teach the course again, I will have that backup already available as an option.

I used to be a member of the Association for Library Service to Children‘s Children and Technology Committee, so teaching best practices, or media mentorship, when it comes to technology use and children is something that is very important to me. Technology is not going away, so it is important that we teach our children how to be responsible technology users. If we shelter them from it, then they are going to make mistakes because they haven’t been taught what responsible usage looks like. If we want them to learn, we are going to need to show them that we are willing to learn as well. So the question is, where can we go to learn?

As a librarian, the archive of resources from Little eLit has been a valuable tool that I still use with my grad students. ITSE has great educator resources. The perfect blend for me of librarian and educator is following the Daring Librarian who is a middle school librarian. She posts great tips and resources for her PLN. Pinterest also has great resources like app reviews and how-to manuals. Twitter has Tweet Chats on various topics. Your library may also have resources like Lynda.com for learning how to navigate the various tools and platforms. I currently have learning about Instagram on my to-do-list.

The closing down of Wikispaces does bring one question to mind…we are posting all this great content. So how can we make sure that we are archiving or preserving it for the future if the place we posted it will no longer exist? Where do we go from here?