Sunday, June 8, 2014

Being a good dad is hard, being great seems impossible

This was originally posted on Devin Schoening's Tumblr
Being a good dad is hard, and being a great dad seems nearly impossible. The symbols of excellent fatherhood often come from the fictional characters of television, movies, or books. These symbols lay out a path for fatherhood that is bathed in simplicity. Fatherhood is complex, and fatherhood is lonely. Dads rarely talk deeply about the essence of their role with their children. They share proud moments. They share stories, but rarely, are dads gathered around the table talking through the finer points of fatherhood.
Tonight, I’m reflecting about my work as a dad, and I ask for forgiveness. I ask for wisdom. I ask for grace from God, my family, and my children. In these dark moments, I remember not having enough time to pay attention. I remember being harsh with my tone. I remember forcing someone to eat food at the table, and I remember yelling when someone accidentally elbowed me in the jaw. As dads, we rarely talk about these moments. Whether we are ashamed of these moments or whether even it is about pride and competition, dads don’t break down their work as dads like they do the pick and roll or a recent double switch in the eighth.
Our parenting flaws as dads are locked in our own heads, and there often appears to be no visible path to improve other than trying harder the next time. Being a dad means sacrificing time with our spouses, time with the guys, tickets to a show, or an opportunity to travel. It doesn’t mean that these things have to disappear, but they are tempered, and this is hard. Being a parent allows us to see beautiful moments in our children, and lore tells us that those are supposed to offset any loss of time, self, and autonomy, but sometimes it doesn’t, and that again is really hard.
Do any dads know what allows fatherhood to be the perfect space of love, compassion, and joy for all? I don’t know many dads that are ready to be the wise sage to lead us into this new level of understanding. Balancing life is hard, and doing it as a dad is even harder. I need a deep grace surrounding my fatherhood. I need grace from my kids. I need grace from my wife. I need grace from my community. I need grace from my God. There are no mulligans in fatherhood. There are just memories of doing things the wrong way and somehow still eliciting smiles from our kids. There resilience isn’t an excuse from my lack of getting better at being a dad.
There are dark moments in our years of fatherhood (and for me this is one) when being a good dad is hard, and being a great dad seems impossible. Tomorrow. Hope. Grace. Renewal.


Landing on the moon wasn't the end of the space program for the US. It was the end of the beginning. After five years of building the edcamp concepts around the country, it feels like edcampUSA hosted at the Department of Education in Washington DC on June 6 was another moment that was the end of the beginning. This time, it was the end of the beginning of the movement to personalize and energize educational professional development. Thanks to Emily Davis at DOE, and the Edcamp Foundation for making this a reality. I was honored to be a part of the inaugural event. Though there would a few connected friends in attendance, there were many more people at the event that I had never met, but everyone had a similar passion for changing learning as we know it. If you have ever been to an edcamp, then you know the energy in the room and the energy of the conversation. You also know the hope that springs from the event, and the sense of kindred spirits that develops. All of those things were present for this event as well. I tried to capture the day in pictures as much as possible, but the beauty of edcamp is hard to capture in pictures. Below you will find a few that begin to tell the story.

Already looking forward to edcampUSA in 2015. It will soon be a must-go event on the schedule of every connected educator, and the talk in the room was how to work the logistics to make this a reality for many, many more passionate educators in the future.

The monuments at night are always a great backdrop for learning.

Learning together. Bringing together educators from around the country. 

The wisdom in the room was incredible. 

A big thank you to Department of Education for taking a chance to grow.

We need to fill the Department of Education with more and more voices from the classroom. 

Some pieces of edcampUSA looked just like every edcamp in the country. 

The board. Excited that I got to lead conversation around The Culture of YES.

A huge thanks to our organizers and more. 

We may not have changed policy, but edcamp has arrived as an important voice of change. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

How the Number 10 is Ruining our Credibility.

Through the firehose of social media comes tweet after tweet that could contribute to the growing and learning of the kids in our spaces of learning. There is an incredible culture of sharing that permeates the connected learning space. Though some of the quality information doesn’t contribute to the work that I’m currently doing, I’m certain that it does for others. The flow of information makes us better and helps us to grow. Our sharing supports learning in classrooms and districts where the fresh flow of information and ideas can be sparse. Having a connected educator lens has revived careers and saved the passion for teachers for many. It is so important that we continue to share with an eye toward quality information. 

Each connected educators has a responsibility to share, like, and favorite the best of the best material so that it rises to the top of the heap for all to enjoy. To hold to our responsibility in this area, it is important that we refuse the quick high of the garbage posts and information that can get a bevy of retweets across multiple hashtags and a slew of new Twitter followers. There are clearly folks that can’t seem to appreciate the harm that this does in the connected educator network. Passing garbage posts and information around and around fills our education air with population that doesn’t have the potential to impact the lives of kids in a positive way. 

I have been guilty of this in the past, so I point the finger at myself first, but over the past six months, I have worked to read, reflect, and curate before retweeting. Rarely and hopefully approaching never will you now see “ten ways to…” anything from my feed. These lists present education as something as simple as a top ten list, and we are definitely in a time when we need to bring more circles of supporters into the understanding of the very complex nature of educating children. 

Share like mad. Share you best stuff. Share. Share. Share. Please though, before you retweet, like or favorite something (at times without even reading it), ask whether it will contribute to a greater public perception of education and/or whether it is something that can truly impact the lives of kids. The information that we have plentiful. Let’s keep it from being polluted with the number 10 and all of its cousins.