Blink of an Eye

I’m a visual learner, so visual media and literacy excite me. I’ve been looking forward to this course since I read a couple of other COETAILERs blogs on course 3 (nerd alert!). To me there is nothing better than a well structured document or presentation that is appealing to the eye. There is nothing worse than watching people suck at PowerPoint because of glaring mistakes. I’m really excited for this course not only because it is something I like, but also really want to improve in.  

Image by Richard Wells
Image by Richard Wells

I am not a big Star Wars fan, in fact I have never seen a full movie (don’t judge), but after reading this article and listening to him speak here I want to see all of them.  George Lucas spoke to my heart when he said, “We must teach communication comprehensively, in all its forms. Today we work with the written or spoken word as the primary form of communication. But we also need to understand the importance of graphics, music, and cinema, which are just as powerful and in some ways more deeply intertwined with young people’s culture. We live and work in a visually sophisticated world, so we must be sophisticated in using all the forms of communication, not just the written word.” I would add to Mr. Lucas’ thinking all forms of communication are needed in our world because we are so diverse and different forms of communication help us overcome the obstacle of not speaking the same language. Graphics, music, and cinema break down the written and spoken barriers of different languages and are great for our English language learners.

In all the readings and videos (particularly this one) this week my mind kept going back to a Blink by Malcom Gladwell. I devour anything he writes and particularly loved this book.  Gladwell says, “There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis.”  He also talks about visuals trigger emotions, “People are in one of two states in a relationship. The first is what I call positive sentiment override, where positive emotion overrides irritability. It’s like a buffer. Their spouse will do something bad, and they’ll say, ‘Oh, he’s just in a crummy mood.’ Or they can be in negative sentiment override, so that even a relatively neutral thing that a partner says gets perceived as negative.” I connected this to watching a presentation or reading a website, if the initial feeling I get from the visuals isn’t positive the whole presentation or reading I find myself overridden with negative sentiment. To tag along on that I found this article that found incorrect use of visuals can deter learners. When the visuals don’t match the information or messages the audience is confused and tries to find the connection instead of taking in the information.

I loved watching the videos and checking out all of the sites this week. There are some great resources to use with kids.  During my messing around I came across some others that I found interesting and useful:

Now for this week’s assignment:  What do I want to change on my blog?  I looked over all the different sites I have–class website, COETAIL, professional resume, and personal blog–and nitpicked them all. I just started my professional resume site, so I gave myself a little grace on that one, but I jumped right in on the other two sites.  The more I thought about it the more frustrated I got because there was so much I wanted to change. I didn’t like the layout, they all seemed too busy. I wanted readers’ eyes to go to the important parts, which are unique and different for each of the sites. After playing around and changing them all, I realized I could to it over and over again and still be unhappy.  I came to the conclusion what I want to do is make them all cohesive, I want them to look like they belong to each other. I’m not sure how I will do that since one is Weebly, WordPress, and Strikingly. I’m researching different website builders that allow for uniformity between the different existing platforms I am using.


Before and After Video

After playing around for longer than I should have I now have a similar color palettes for all my sites, and I have simplified them which I think makes them easier to navigate. To do this I added categories on my menu bar on my COETAIL site so people can access my posts by courses. On my class teaching website I simplified the menu so it was less wordy. On my professional resume I took out the school icons and cut down my beliefs.

My end goal is to create a uniformed appearance for all of my sites, but I think that will take way longer than a week to do. The problem with visual literacy is that there is so much out there to get ideas from that I feel like I will have a hard time deciding on what works for me. I’m not there yet, but I’ve taken the first step.



First Semester Reflections

This past semester was a whirlwind, returning from maternity leave and starting a new job as elementary assistant principal. Over the course of the semester I kept a document where I wrote little notes to myself about learnings`.  Since I finally have time to write them out I thought I’d use my COETAIL site as the place to house my thoughts.

I have so much more to learn, but here are TOP 10:

1. Relationships: Spend time to build relationships with your staff, parents, and most importantly the students. Having a trusting relationship makes things easier down the road.

2. Feedback: Teachers crave this, not just a “good job”, but specific timely feedback. This is something I can improve on, I get into classrooms but feedback isn’t always right away.  I think I will start carrying a post-it pad around so I can write feedback and leave it for them right away.

3. Communicate Cleary (and Concisely): I made the mistake of assuming people understood things from previous meetings and/or discussions so in my emails I just referred to them, rather than explaining the why and specific how.

4. Be Fair: This is for discipline issues mainly, but could apply to working with my teachers too. What is fair for one person may not be fair for another. Again, by knowing your staff and students this becomes easier to figure out what is fair for each student/teacher and what’s not.

5. Empathize: Everyone is coming from a different place, don’t expect everyone to be on the same level. Understand that people are trying their hardest and meet them where they are with understanding.

6. Be Flexible, but consistent: Things come up. People forget. Emails get lost. Be flexible, but not a wet noodle. People need to know that there are expectations and consequences, but don’t take out the human aspect. I think this ties into number 5.

7. Lead by Example: Work alongside teachers, with parents and students. People will watch your actions more than they listen to your words. Of course we have all heard this, but I found this to be so true.

8. Follow Through: Easier said than done. I never knew how crazy an administrator’s schedule was. I will come into work with an idea of how they day will go and things will always come up. I have to make it a point to prioritize and make sure I get to the things I promised. Also, this goes along with #6–it’s okay to shift your schedule around and push things back (hard for my Type A personality, but I’m learning!)

9. Take the Blame, Share the Success: Even if it isn’t your fault, take the blame. It goes a long way, same goes for complimenting others and giving them credit for their roles.

Lastly, and most important…

10. Don’t Forget the WHY: It is easy to get caught up in the logistics, planning, communication, discipline, emails, professional development, assessment, program coordination, and more–I don’t want to forget why I started teaching…to impact students. I started writing past and current students’ names in my planner and it is a little trigger for my brain to remember it all goes back to the students.