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?

It’s Not My Story To Tell

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Hailey showing off her temporary Emoji tattoo

I am writing this post as I sit in the airport waiting to fly home after a few days in central Florida facilitating our last 3D Leadership sessions for the spring semester. I am going to miss doing these in June and July, not just because I love doing them and working with all the great leaders that I have the opportunity to serve, but also because of all the learning and reflecting I am able to do as well. We have had so many great discussion and I have a whole list of topics I want to reflect deeper on and study.

This post is about communication, but not the normal topics related to communication like the leader that talks in espoused cliche´infused declarations like “Students first,” or “Customers first,” “All hands on deck,” or “We need to move with urgency.” Over and over again, they present grand, overarching and fuzzy statements of who really knows what. Too often we assume that everyone shares the same definitions for terms that go on and on like vision, value, move with urgency (does that mean I’m supposed to run everywhere?), teamwork, focus, strategy, and on and on. While it is important for great leaders to get a handle on this communication issue, this is not the focus of tonight’s post.

Tonight, I remembered a statement by one of our North Carolina members, Hailey Odum, made in her first session while reflecting on what she wanted to be as a leader. Hailey said it bothered her when people talk about things they either shouldn’t be talking about, or really don’t know all the details about. She said she does not tell the story if: “It’s not my story to tell.” This really hit me because this is a pet peeve of mine as well.

You know the individuals Hailey and I are talking about here:

  • need to know everything and probably don’t.
  • want you to know they know something.
  • usually don’t have all the details.
  • flaunt that someone called them and let them know something before you, or even say, “I’ll bet they haven’t told you yet.”
  • start with: “I’m not supposed to know this, but so and so told me.”
  • you hear in a meeting an announcement and are told it is not public yet, but you heard a group talking about it the week before with all the details you just heard.

When I look at these items in bullet list form it almost reminds me of being in the third grade again. I am sure you could probably add another six bullet points to this list, but you get the point. Now this is not to say that I do not know things at times in advance of others or that others don’t confide in me at times, but I really do try to use Hailey’s sniff test of asking myself “Is it my story to tell?” If it is not then I shouldn’t. Notice I did not say I don’t because I am not perfect, but I have to say I am much better at applying the sniff test since Hailey pointed this out as a leadership trait that needed to be followed.

This then goes to thinking about how communication is handled. For example if you work in a team, it is probably not healthy for certain team members to find out things ahead of others. If we have to say things like “Oh, I thought you knew.” or “You didn’t hear this yet.” or the worst one “So and so probably didn’t tell you, but she let me know (you’ve just been told you are not worthy of knowing at the same time as everyone else).” Now in reality what we may have just experienced is simply terrible communication skills, but even so, this is a little bit like leadership by the game of telephone. And, because it is probably not the person who is telling you story to tell, things maybe are not represented correctly.

I really appreciate Hailey bringing this up as a topic of discussion because it has now been something that I consciously think about. So next time you know something, or think you know something, ask yourself, “Is that my story to tell?” Nine times out of ten I’ll bet you answer, “It’s not my story to tell.”

Welcome To Your New Addiction

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What’s At Your Core (Value)?

Where to begin? There is so much I want to say! Yesterday we had a great gathering of our Florida 3D Leadership group outside Orlando at Renaissance Charter School at Boggy Creek. I love going there and spending time with this group. Yesterday’s topic was core values. We spent the morning setting the stage with some cool activities (Emoji tattoos, making graphic mantras) and discussions around core values and what they wanted to do with their lives and what they wanted their legacy to be.

Then, the coolest thing happened – Lunch!

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Our lunch was delivered and catered from Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. First of all, as the truck, bright yellow, pulled up, it caught my eye out the window I had immediately seen the shiny object and was off topic. Check out the picture of the truck and you will understand what I am talking about. So, as they were setting up at one end of the room we were in, I asked one of the workers, Mariah Miller, whether she liked working at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop and if she did, why? Well, let me tell you, she jumped right into our core values discussion and said that she liked it because her boss did not act like a boss and did not want to be called a boss. He wanted to be considered a coworker.

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Graphic Recording by Amy Reynolds

Then her coworker (boss), or leader, as he likes to be called came in, not having heard me ask the question. I called him over and asked him what his workers would say his mantra was (this was a core values discussion from the morning). He then basically reinforced everything Mariah had told us. We were amazed by the message that David Morales had for us in what became an outstanding extemporaneous luncheon keynote, literally.

IMG_8404David explained he had ended up in Florida, via Texas, because he quit his job, and I quote, “because my core values did not match those of the company I was working for at the time.” Of course I am beaming at this point and everyone was looking at me like I had set this up, which I had not. We had discussed how individual and organization core values needed to match. I had said earlier in the day that is was just a fact that if at any point your own core values become much different from the organization you work for, that it was time to quit. He was affirming everything we had talked about earlier in the day, but with the flare of personal experience and a lot of passion.

IMG_5535He then told us about looking for a job and finding Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. He told us how he cut the deal for Fuzzy’s Taco Shop to cater for the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers. He told us about how he has opened 29 businesses. Finally, he explained how core values build communities of commitment. We had been discussing how core values communicate what is important, influence behavior, and inspire people to action. We had also talked about how core values enhance credible leadership. David Morales from Fuzzy’s Taco Shop had become our exemplar. We did not need to spend very much time with his employees to know he was credible.

…it is clearly necessary to invent organizational structures appropriate to the multicultural age. But such efforts are doomed to failure if they do not grow out of something deeper; out of generally held values.” ~Vaclav Havel

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Graphic Recording by Amy Reynolds

Core values are what support the vision, shape the culture and reflect what an organization values. They are the essence of the organization’s identity – the principles, beliefs or philosophy of values. Many organizations focus mostly on the technical competencies but often forget what are the underlying competencies that make their organizations run smoothly — core values. Establishing strong core values provides both internal and external advantages to the organization. Clearly, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop and David Morales have mastered this.

Needless to say, we were amazed at this outstanding example of a company and it’s employees living out shared core values. Would you, your organization, or school have been able to extemporaneously keynoted our lunch today with the same level of authenticity related to core values as David Morales, Mariah Miller, and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop were able to?

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?