Byron's Babbles

Emojis…Creative or Lazy?

fileHere is the sixth and final guest post in this series on Emojis from our top teacher leaders. It has been exciting to bring you a new post every day this week from these talented individuals. The goal was for this cohort of our Focused Leader Academy to experience the thrill of putting content out there for anyone and everyone to read in the form of a blog post. They explained that it was a little scary and intimidating to put thoughts out there for others to critique. The biggest question our reluctant bloggers were asking was “Will I be clever?” While, yes, there is a certain amount of vulnerability, blogs can enable self growth, serve as a journal, and most importantly to me – serve as a library of personal thoughts, research, and lessons learned. I go to the archive of my posts often to get information from the past that I have documented in my blog. Blogs are an incredible leadership tool for your organization’s to know about you as the leader, but I believe blogs are most valuable as a personal tool.screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-9-29-49-am

Check out this awesome post by Ann Semon and Aimee Campbell:

Emojis…Creative or Lazy?

“People who use emojis are too stupid to communicate with actual vocabulary.” This was a quote we saw on the internet, which sparked controversy. Are emojis stupid? Do people use them as a cop-out for thinking OR as an alternate way of communication? The way people communicate in 2016 come in various forms of email, text, tweets, etc. Does this mean we are dumbed down or actually more innovative and creative? It’s your choice.

Benefits:

Courtney Seiter says, “Scientists have discovered that when we look at smiley faces online, the same parts of the brain are activated as when we look at a real human face.” She goes on to say that emojis replace the tone of voice you would hear in typical conversation, thus creating an online version of empathy. When you communicate with emojis, are you using them as a tool to express emotions or as a symbol to replace real vocabulary? Right brained people tend to take a more artistic approach to communication, and like to be shown rather than told. Right brained people also prefer to draw rather than write which may lead us to believe, if you use emojis, you might have right brained tendencies.

Symbolism is often used in things like poetry and art. Emojis are essentially a picture that represent words…so could be considered an art form. For example, silent movies can be enjoyable because you get to interpret the story being told. Pictures books are another simpler form of using symbolism for story-telling purposes…could emojis be the same?

Hindrances:

Left brained people tend to be more detailed and use words rather than pictures. They often find it easier to read things that are straight forward rather than vague. With this being said, a left brained person may find it inappropriate to use these vague pictures to represent specific information, especially if it a message that should not be up for interpretation.

In an online environment, sometimes emojis can be misinterpreted. The simple mistake of a winking emoji in place of the regular smiling emoji may lead people to think you know something they don’t. This could lead to over-analyzing and misinterpreting a simple statement. Emotions are complex things and people can have a differing view on what an emoji could symbolize. General Motors actually introduced a publication in all emojis which caused confusion and intrigue. Some people may interpret this as a positive or a negative public relations move. It can also cause a gap of communication between generations. For example, in my personal life, an older family member used the “laugh so hard you cry” emoji with a post on Facebook about a death in the family. They assumed the tears were sad tears, thus causing major confusion and miscommunication.

In conclusion, do you find yourself relating more to the benefits or hindrances? If you associate more with benefits…you might just be a right brained person. If you tend to agree more with hindrances, you might be a left brained person. Maybe you’re in the middle, and find it depends on the situation. In the end, it’s all about the audience and getting across the message you’re trying to convey. However you choose to communicate, make sure it’s effective.

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Emoji: To Use or Not to Use?

fileSo, here is the fifth of six guest posts from our Focused Leader Academy teacher leaders. If you take a look at the parts of a good blog post we created I believe you will see that Brenda Culbertson and Amanda Case have connected with readers by finding a great hook, have included visuals, and told a story that you, as the reader, can use. Take a minute and check our their view on Emojis.

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Mike Fleisch Graph

Emoji: To Use or Not to Use?

Let’s eat, Grandma.

Let’s eat Grandma!

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Just like punctuation, Emojis can change the meaning of a sentence. The meaning can be changed for the better or the worse. There is a strong benefit and hindrance to using emojis in written language. The hindrance is that emojis can be misinterpreted and the benefit is that emojis can aid in the tone of the intended message.

Hindrance

Emojis can be misinterpreted when something as simple as 😉 is used. This can be a symbol of an inside joke or a flirtation. The problem is the person on the receiving may take it the opposite way you wanted them to…creating a “pinch”. Should you have used the emoji in the first place?

Benefit

The most evident benefit is that the symbol can add to the tone of your message so that the receiver reads the message as you meant. For example, in a message that seems flat, a smiley face can add a tone of happiness. Can the emoji add an emphasis to your tone?

Emojis are here to stay regardless of whether you think they are a benefit or hindrance in your communication. You need to ask yourself, does the emoji help or hurt my message?

Brenda and Amanda

Emoji Exploji

So pumped to be bringing you the fourth of six guest posts from teacher leader participants in our Focused Leader Academy. These posts are a result of a session on blogging. No powerpoints or lists of to-dos, just co-creation of a blog post by pairs of our teacher leaders. They even created the stickers pictured at the beginning of the posts with an Emoji maker. Remember, our essential question always is “What can we create together?” Enjoy this post from Kris Phillips and Berry Wells:

Emoji Exploji

Before, you had to worry about students dropping an “F bomb”. Just wait until you get an “Emoji Exploji” in your classroom! For better or for worse, emojis have exploded in our culture. Now we must choose to embrace or reject them.  

😀What are the benefits of emojis in the classroom?

• Engage students

• Popular

• Expressive

• Fast & Fun

• Easy pulse check

😕What are the drawbacks of emojis in the classroom?

• Overused

• Can be distracting

• Discourages language use

• Can be misinterpreted

• Can be inappropriate

• Can be offensive

Regardless of your personal opinion, emojis are a form of communication, and they are here to stay. The question is will you embrace society’s infatuation with this trend, or will you reject the idiocracy of the emoji exploji? The choice is yours. 😜

Top 7 Benefits of Emojis in the Classroom

Here is the third of six guest posts submitted by our teacher leaders as part of our Focused Leader Academy this past weekend. Jena Davis and Liz Breeden decided to take the angle of how to use Emojis in the classroom. Blogging certainly takes some individuals outside of their comfort zone, including Jena and Liz. But, by working together and doing a fast creation using the “through line” of Emojis that we had been working with all day, they were able to author a great post. Here is Jena and Liz’s creation:

Smiley face! Frowny face! Heart! Emojis are everywhere. Do they help or hinder in the classroom? Used correctly, emojis can be beneficial in education. Emojis offer another method of communication between students and teachers.

1. Communication feeling or emotion: emojis can communicate feelings or emotions of students to teachers. Students who may not know the words to associate with their feelings may be able to communicate those feelings through the use of an emoji instead.

2. Visual: emojis are a graphic and visual representation of thoughts and feelings. Students are often visual learners and drawn to such representations.

3. Engaging: emojis are a way for students to engage with one another, or even with the teacher, in the classroom. Students can share thoughts and feelings with one another.

4. Check for Understanding: teachers can use an emoji to check for understanding or a student’s feeling or attitude about a particular topic.

5. Quick and Easy: emojis are a quick check and easy to use for both students and teachers.

6. Variety: there are a variety of emojis to choose from when making a selection. Students may be able to find and communicate something for which they don’t have the vocabulary to communicate.

7. Icebreaker: emojis can be used to ease the awkwardness of an uncomfortable moment or message.

How can YOU use emojis to communicate with YOUR students in a positive way?

How Do You Emoji?

fileThis is the second of six great guest blog posts from the teacher leaders in our Focused Leader Academy. These guest posts are a result of a session yesterday on blogging as a leadership tool. We had been using the “through line” (a theme or idea that runs from the beginning to the end of one of our design sprints that has a connecting theme or plot) of Emojis, so it made sense to have the prompt of: Emojis: Benefit or Hindrance? Participants paired up and proceeded to write a blog post kowing I would be posting it as a guest post. screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-7-12-22-am

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Graphic by Mike Fleisch

I am really hoping that these teacher leaders will open themselves up to be vulnerable and discover the self growth that can take place from using a blog as a personal journal. As a leadership tool this gives the blogger a way to communicate as a leader. Additionally, the blog also gives us an eventual library of prior thoughts and materials, always at our fingertips. The guest post here was written by Kristen Bauer and Lisa Schneider.

Enjoy Kristen and Lisa’s post:

Pick up your phone and take a look at the last emoji you used. What is it and what could it mean? My last emoji was 😬 in a tweet that reads “Don’t let perfection get in the way of a good blog 😬.”

An emoji can be beneficial or can be a hindrance. Here are our top 5 pluses and deltas of using an emoji:

  1. Supportive/Inspirational-Whether it be 😘 or a 👍 these simple gestures can provide support to a friend in need.
  2. Clarifying- An emoji can quickly add to and create the tone of the conversation.
  3. Telling-Did you know that Siri reads emoji’s as exactly what they are? Take for example when your teenage daughter says to Siri “Call Caleb.” And Siri responds with “Calling Caleb fire, beating heart, face blowing kiss.” 🔥, 💕, 😘. That real life situation was very telling for my husband when he overheard our teenage daughter calling her boyfriend.
  4. Misinterpreted-Could your emoji actually be a pinch to your reader? Have you ever gotten an unexplained winky face? 😜
  5. Unprofessional/inappropriate-There is a time and a place for an emoji and its probably not in the work place.

So choose your emojis wisely. ☺

Emojis: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

fileI am super excited to post the first of six guest posts from participants of the current cohort of our Focused Leader Academy. The other five will come each day for the next five days. The authors of this first guest post are Carlie Coblentz and Brandon Johnson. Today, at our monthly Design Sprint (what others call professional development) we used Emojis to facilitate our learning. Part of our time was spent on how to create a great blog post. I really wanted to stress the use of blogging as a leadership tool. As is our custom in our design sprints, we split into pods and the question of “What can we create together?” was answered by the creation of six blog posts about the use of emojis. The prompt for this creation was: Emojis: Benefit or Hindrance. The pods of two then worked to create a guest blog post for me to post. screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-9-08-22-pm

Of course we couldn’t just stop there. Participants also used our Emoji Maker kits to create Emoji stickers that represented their blog post. A picture of Carlie and Brandon’s sticker is at the beginning of this post. I am very proud of the posts that were written today and am excited to share them with you over the next six days. I have also included the graphic created by Mike Fleisch during our blogging session. Take a look at the graphic. Hopefully you will find some useful tips for your blog posts as well.

Here is Carlie’s and Brandon guest post:

The 👍, the 👎, and the 👺 of Emojis

Take a moment and think about the last time you used an emoji. These silly little characters have become very popular in the past couple of years. They can be used to quickly express many different types of emotions with friends and family. But, there are times that they can be a hindrance. Here’s a list of pros and cons of Emojis:

Pros

  • Fun 🎉
  • Engaging 👀
  • Unique way of expression🦄
  • Quick ⚡️

We could probably agree that Emojis can be a very fun and engaging way to communicate. You’re able to express your feelings with people without the usual long, drawn out stories.

Cons

  • Takes away reading and writing skills 📝
  • Limits communication🗣
  • Misinterpretation 🤔
  • Not appropriate in some situations 🤐

On the contrary, Emojis are very similar to what would be considered “text-talk.” They do not always communicate exactly what you’re trying to say, and sometimes, they could be misunderstood by the recipient, causing confusion and frustration.

What would you consider to be the 👍, the 👎, and the 👺 of Emojis?

I’ve Been BitMoji’d, Literally!

IMG_3776So, I was asked to provide a BitMoji for my work to use on a key card. Sounded fun, but honestly, I had no idea what a BitMoji was. I knew what an emoji was, and have even blogged about them. In fact I just checked and I have blogged about emojis seven times. Click here to find my blogs on emojis. You are probably asking yourself, how did he figure out what a BitMoji was? Well, I did what any baby boomer would do, asked a much younger and tech savvy person. I happened to be working in a school at the time asked, so I asked a teacher. She was kind enough to help me find the app, download it, and show we how it worked. I love this reverse-mentoring stuff. What fun!

Well, do you BitMoji? If not, then you are missing out! I found it to be quite fun and even an exercise in reflection. I like the fact that you take a selfie and then your selfie is right there as you are creating the avatar. I found this to be a metaphor for how we reflect on how we are doing as leaders and in our jobs. Sometimes we need that selfie to help us reflect. Here’s my selfie and BitMoji (how did I do?):

What is funny is that at our 3D Leadership gathering this past weekend, the group was kidding me about using the word “literally” a lot. They created a “literally” hashtag: #literally. How cool was it that there literally is a “lit·er·al·ly” BitMoji. This caused me to reflect about the words and language I use,  because we all know language matters.

Building a positive culture in our organizations takes commitment, consistency, and teamwork…and adding a little Bitmoji may just add that extra fun you are looking for. Don’t forget, it can also bring some reflection time into your own personal development and growth. Next time you are looking to represent your organization or school’s culture, just remember, there’s a Bitmoji for that! How will you use Bitmojis to add to your organization’s positive culture?

Leadership Ink

Regardless of your position on this topic, “inking” is in. What I’m talking about is tattooing. The interest of young and old in getting a tattoo is increasing. Many of our heroes have ink and we maybe want one too. Amazingly, 25% of those getting tattoos regret it within the first month of getting the tattoo. Now, to be clear, I don’t really think I want a tattoo right now, but I do have a temporary tattoo that won’t seem to go away. Let me tell you the story.

This past weekend we used Emojis as a “through line” for our Focused Leader Academy (FLA) December retreat. The first activity we did had participants pick an Emoji temporary tattoo and put it somewhere on their body. Check out the picture of the sheet of available tattoos. The catch was, you needed to explain why you picked the tattoo you did and the significance of where you placed the ink on your body. Needless to say, we had a lot of fun with this.

This was an exciting and inspiring activity. The explanations were very well thought out. Some were comical, while at the same time being very meaningful and heartfelt. I am hoping our Cohort #2 FLA members will reply to this post with their stories. Here’s mine:

“I chose to put the two pink hearts Emoji on the inside of my right wrist. I explained this was because I love FLA and love facilitating the learning of our teacher leaders. In the words of Cohort # 1 graduate, Jill Landers, these weekend retreats are Byron’s “leadership heroine.” She’s right; I’m addicted. Furthermore, I placed the tattoo on the inside of my wrist because by personally working with our teacher leaders it helps me keep a pulse on what is going on with our teachers.” ~ Byron

Now, here we are almost a week later and my temporary tattoo looks just as good as on the day I applied it. At first I got a little concerned, but I have gotten used to it and actually really like it. I keep getting questions about it. Questions like the one at the state board of education meeting this week, “Byron, do you really have a tattoo of two pink hearts on your wrist?” These questions give me the chance to say “Why yes. Let me tell you why and about the journey our teacher leaders are taking through our Focused Leader Academy.”

So, if you were going to get some first time, or new, leadership ink; what would your tattoo be and why?

Teacher Evaluation Norming: “What Can We Create Together?”

file4When creating the ideal school community for meaningful teacher evaluation we must clearly define the expectations for effective teaching at our schools. We must also effectively communicate the criteria that will be used to evaluate teacher performance. Personally, I believe the most important aspect of teacher evaluation is to ensure professional growth for our teachers in order to move them toward being highly effective. Our school has become a part of the Indiana Teacher Appraisal and Support System (INTASS) and I love how Dr. Sandi Cole, Director of Center on Education and Lifelong Learning puts it: “Teacher evaluation must be something done for teachers, not to them.” This statement has become a core value of our work of overhauling our entire teacher evaluation process. The INTASS process rests on four basic elements of a quality evaluation plan: a) Clear, frequent, and transparent communication among a wide base of stakeholders; b) Professional practice measures that are mutually agreed upon by stakeholders; c) Multiple measures of student learning outcomes, and d) Fully aligned post-evaluation processes, including job-embedded professional growth and support for all educators.

Another crucial part of this process is the norming of evaluators. We have chosen to have a monthly retreat of our evaluation team to ensure that evaluators have an accurate and aligned perception of classroom practice and student growth. This norming process also guarantees assigned evaluation ratings that are accurate reflections of teacher effectiveness. During norming, evaluators align or “calibrate” their scoring so that every member of the team applies the rubric consistently across teachers, and of the team of evaluators scores consistently with one another (inter-rater reliability). Having similar scoring and uniform expectations of teacher effectiveness is critical if you want to make meaningful comparisons among teachers.

I have also found the norming to be a good time for our administrative staff to engage in professional development for the purpose supporting effective leading of learning. A healthy team culture—and ultimately the school’s performance—rely on the team’s ability to encourage individual improvement in constructive ways. Through our norming process, administrative team members are learning and practicing the skills and dispositions necessary to mentor, coach, and evaluate colleagues. Our norming process has enabled the team to practice a model of shared leadership. By having regular norming retreats, team members are able to refine their collaboration skills and dispositions to ensure the team’s ability to act according to its shared purpose of enabling and empowering all of our teachers to be highly effective.

At this past week’s norming retreat I was struck by the amount of learning and professional growth that also went on with the administrative team of evaluators. There were discussions of how to more effectively use technology, sharing of best practices witnessed such as for checking for mastery, and new ways of engaging students; just to name a few. We even discussed the use of Emojis for engaging students. I couldn’t help but draw my own Emoji (shared in the picture above) as I graphically facilitated the norming retreat. We also were able to identify areas where we need to provide professional development learning opportunities for our teachers. I believe my role as a leader is not necessarily to always be a better role model or to drive change; my role is to create structures and experiences that bring our community of staff members together to identify and solve their own issues and drive improvement. Holding these norming retreats has enabled this structure of experiences for our administrative staff.

This norming process has become an important piece of being able for our school community to answer the question of “What can we create together?” I believe we are creating a community of continual improvement and one where our teachers are valued as professionals and given the feedback and resources to be the very best. I am attaching images of our notes from our latest norming retreat so you can see what went on:

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