• Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Archives
    Archives Contains a list of blog posts that were created previously.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Authenticity, Transparency and Pushing Back Respectfully

Posted by on in UNward!
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 6622


This week I learned that semantics can be a surprisingly insurmountable barrier to positive community action. In fact, it can prevent really, really, really great things from happening. Apparently, even things that we all agree are good and needed can get derailed by a “label.”

Despite the growing popularity of the work being done on school “branding” by Joe Sanfelippo and Tony Sinanis, this week I discovered that the term has a deeply negative connotation for some.

As I was comfortably laid back following #edchat with the rest of the committed lead lurkers, Heather Rocco @heatherrocco dropped a tweet bomb that grabbed me by the collar and forced my hands to the keyboard. 


Wow, 36 people shared this sentiment (many more, I am sure). I tried to stay out of this one, especially after someone posted that when chat topics involve conflict, the level of participation significantly declines. My head said shut up, Smith, but my fingers kept crawling to the keys like a thirsty man to a well, so, foolishly, I jumped in.

In the end I thought the discussion that followed was riveting and the lessons learned invaluable.  

Lesson one:  From Heather Rocco @heatherrocco, @LoringandSmith and William Chamberlain @wmchamberlain, I learned that for some, labels are non-negotiable and inseparable from meaning.  For those who feel this way, terms may have a fixed and immutable definition. 


Lesson two: From Steven Issacs @mr_isaacs, @JoeSanfelippo and @TonySinanas, I learned a little more about how “bridge builders” work in our wired social ecosystem. They each represented their truth, but looked to understand both sides and find common ground. 



Lesson three: From Nancy Blair @blairteach, Bill Tozzo @PDCorner, and Don Gately @donald_gately, I learned how others respectfully push back on issues where the opposing views are deeply held. 


In a world that increasingly thrives on dividing us into white hats and black hats, good witches and bad witches, those who are for us and those who are against us, it was encouraging to see what authenticity, transparency and pushing back respectfully looks like.  All views were represented and as far as I could tell no one said, “Meet me outside afterschool and we’ll settle this.”

This #edchat was a master class in navigating diversity of opinion. On the way out, William shared how he deals  with semantic differences.  "I always try to get us to define terms. It's like hearding cats though :)"  Clearly,  if doing great things requires group action, sometimes we just have to agree to disagree on the minor points. so we can keep moving forward on the major points. 

Picked up some nice gems in this Edchat, though it left me with one perplexing question: I’m wondering what it means that for three out of the last four weeks the most important things I’ve learned were somehow connected to William Chamberlain, Tony Sinanis and Joe Sanfelippo. Are they simply deep wells of  great wisdom? Am I just a rabid fan mindlessly following their brands of thought?  Do I have father issues? To be continued…


Last modified on
Rate this blog entry:

I'm the executive producer of BAM Radio Network, which means I get to eat, sleep and drink education talk radio. Over the last 10 years, I've been a fly on the wall in over 4,500 discussions between some of the most thoughtful, passionate and fascinating educators in the nation. On these pages I share the most important lessons I've learned from them, along with an occasional rogue insight of my own. BACKGROUND: I am a 25-year veteran of the media. Over those two-and-a-half decades, I had the opportunity to author four books; write for The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Times; and spent three years as a popular radio talk show host on KIEV in Los Angeles. I worked for seven years as an "on air" political commentator and co-hosted the Emmy Award-winning program Life and Times on PBS television. I eventually moved on to become a business reporter at KTLA in Hollywood. Owing to some great mentors, some good timing and perhaps a shortage of available talent, I managed to pick up five Emmy nominations and one Emmy Award along the way. Oh by the way, I went to Harvard. Well … actually, I was invited to speak there once, but I really learned a lot from the experience. :)

  • Guest
    WmChamberlain Sunday, 08 March 2015

    Daniel Pink got it wrong, we aren't all salesman and the meanings of words are really important. When we fudge the meaning we create dissonance and education is hard enough without it. :)

    BTW I can't imagine enjoying watching a debate, I don't know how you do it.

Leave your comment

Guest Tuesday, 19 March 2019