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How One Tweet Can Flip a Learning Community

Posted by on in Education Leadership
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Commatters2

“Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.”    Amy Fast  @fastcranny 

Courageous communication is extremely powerful.  With one tweet and a 40-minute follow-up phone call, Rosa Perez–Isiah changed the priorities of our learning community. 

Rosa is a veteran educator and principal based in Southern California. I discovered Rosa during an exceptionally engaging Twitter chat she was moderating. Rosa was artfully posing a litany of penetrating questions that provoked a lively and thoughtful discussion. 

One question she posted moved me from lurker to engager: 

Moral courage is part of the culture in a healthy learning community. Who sets the tone for courageous behavior? "  - Rosa Perez-Isiah @RosaIsiah 

The responses to her tweet suggested that I was not the only one seduced into deeper thought by her question.  The rest of the chat was robust and her post continued to resonate on Twitter for days. 

For me, her question was a clarifying, encouraging, galvanizing and an indicting dose of reality.  It triggered a tsunami of follow-up questions: 

-       How much is moral courage a part of the learning communities of which I’m a member? 

-       How does moral courage impact our ability to make a difference? 

-       What inhibits moral courage and what encourages it? 

-       What impact is moral courage (or the absence of moral courage) having in education? 

-       At BAM Radio Network the moral courage buck stops with me. What kind of job am I doing at setting the tone for courageous behavior in our learning community?  

Talking at the Surface 

We all know that there is often a gap between what we think and what we say.   Call it diplomacy, discretion, a filter or fear, some of the most: 

- enriching,

- life-altering,

- game-changing,

- problem-solving,

- progress-producing,

- relationship-advancing 

conversations we *could have* with each other are stillborn.  They are killed by murky social dynamics we don’t fully understand or discuss. 

For almost a decade, I’ve struggled to reconcile the gap between the education discussions we produce for public consumption and the ones we routinely hear in private.  Too often we’ve ended interviews with the feeling that the most meaningful and valuable exchanges occurred before and after we went “on air.”  But how could we possibly change that? 

The Call 

Rosa and I eventually ended up on a call, sharing thoughts, experiences and war stories about moral courage in education.  We mused about how courage plays a role at almost every level. 

- It takes courage to be candid with kids and say, “I don’t know; let’s figure it out together.”

- It takes courage to navigate challenging parent/teacher discussions when there’s disagreement about what’s right for the student.

- It takes courage to resist a culture, policies or programs that may be a disservice to kids.

- It takes courage to act on principle when doing so might mean unemployment.

- It takes courage to speak to the elephants in the room that often show up when discussing everything from assessments to professional development and culturally responsive instruction.  

The Follow-Up Call

Many educators believe passionately that education can change lives and feel called to teach. Similarly, we’ve seen the powerful impact media can have on our lives and feel called to use media to make a difference in education. 

This is why the call with Rosa led to a tectonic shift at BAM Radio.  Before Rosa, we were willing to simply amplify the voices of thoughtful educators from across the community.  Post Rosa, we feel compelled to facilitate, model and encourage more courageous, transparent on- air conversations.  We feel a heightened obligation to close the gap between the “good” on-air interviews we’ve helped to produce and the “great” discussions that routinely occur offline.  So we begin 2016 in relentless pursuit of more courageous conversations. 

Leading the Way

UnearthED:

We’re thrilled to kickoff that campaign with a new show by Dr. Brad Gustafson @GustafsonBrad and Ben Gilpin @benjamingilpin. It’s called UnearthED and their commitment to deeper, different discussions has already yielded  extraordinary reviews: 

“These guys are amazing. I’ve never heard such honest dialogue.” – G-Family384 

“ This show has a different feel.  I love the honest commentary and questions.” - Eii508 

“UnearthED launches Twitter chats into a whole new stratosphere! This is the conversation I’ve been looking for.” - Rose653

We Lead ED Radio:

We’re equally excited that Rosa Perez- Isiah @RosaIsiah will be bringing her courageous and experienced voice to BAM Radio‘s leadership channel.  Every exchange I’ve had with Rosa has been thought provoking. We’re confident that she is going to encourage us all to dig a little deeper. 

The Innovator’s Mindset:

Also new on BAM Radio for 2016 is George Couros @gcouros. George is bringing his courageous and innovative ideas to the network as part of  the Innovator’s Mindset collaboration with Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher. If you love George’s thinking, you’ll love the exchanges with Vicki on the new series.

Mattering Mondays:

The collaboration continues with Angela Maiers @AngelaMaiers. Angela courageously persisted to start a movement around a simple, obvious truth - “you matter.”  Angela and Vicki will host Mattering Mondays on BAM Radio Network. Every other week they will share the courageous mindset and tools you need to let students, peers, administrators and parents know that they matter.

Uncommon Learning:

Eric Sheniger @E_Sheninger is one of the most courageous education leaders I’ve met. He’s coming back to BAM Radio Network with his three-minute episodes on creating schools that work for kids.

UNward!:

Finally, under the heading of practice what you preach, I will return to the air to host UNward! The show is a passion project about the UNconventional, UNcommon, UNtraditional, UNorthodox, anything but UNimaginative people, ideas and organizations driving education forward. 

If Not Now, When? 

“We're seeing extreme conditions, unlike anything we've seen before.”  - Tim Cook, Apple CEO 

Whether or not we acknowledge it daily, we are living in exceptional times.  Barely a week goes by in which some pundit doesn’t admit, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”  It’s slowly become clear to all that our times demand fresh thinking and exceptional courage. 

It’s time to update our world view as Oskar Cymerman @focus2achieve reminds us in his colorful blog, “This Ain’t no Industrial Age Homie.”  But perhaps AJ Juliani @ajjuliani said it best: 

Our job is not to ‘prepare’ kids for something; our job is to help kids learn to prepare themselves for anything." 

How do we do prepare for the unknown? Neither your hairdresser nor Google knows for sure.  All we know is that what got us here, won’t get us there!  We’ll all have to be ready to reinvent ourselves, our programs, our organizations and our approaches to the challenges we face in real-time. Jon Harper’s  @Jonharper70bd must-read post, What a Difference a Week Can Make, drove this point home with humility, compassion and yes, courage! 

"A lot can change quickly. So we must be alert. And we must be ready when that opening appears. Because sometimes all it takes is one small gesture to make a big difference." 

So as we jump head first into the deep end of 2016, we’re excited to see where the road ahead will lead. As we reinvent the BAM Radio learning community, we hope to support more relevant, more riveting, more meaningful, more helpful, more useful, and more courageous conversations that matter.  Why?  Because as Todd Nesloney @TechNinjaTodd says repeatedly, #Kidsdeserveit! 

UNward!

 

How One Tweet Can Flip a Learning Community

 

“Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.”    Amy Fast  @fastcranny 

 

Courageous communication is extremely powerful.  With one tweet, a few direct messages and a 40-minute follow-up phone call, Rosa Perez–Isiah changed the priorities of our learning community.

 

Rosa is a veteran educator and principal based in Southern California. I discovered Rosa during an exceptionally engaging Twitter chat she was moderating. Rosa was artfully posing a litany of penetrating questions that provoked a lively and thoughtful discussion.  

 

One question she posted moved me from lurker to engager:

 

http://www.bamradionetwork.com/modules/mod_communityquotes/assets/images/leftquote.png Moral courage is part of the culture in a healthy learning community. Who sets the tone for courageous behavior?   - Rosa Perez-Isiah @RosaIsiah

 

The responses to her tweet suggested that I was not the only one seduced into deeper thought by her question.  The rest of the chat was robust and her post continued to resonate on Twitter for days.

 

For me, her question was a clarifying, encouraging, galvanizing and an indicting dose of reality.

 

It triggered a tsunami of follow-up questions:

 

-       How much is moral courage a part of the learning community of which I’m a member?

 

-       How does moral courage make a difference in our ability to make a difference?

 

-       What inhibits moral courage and what encourages it?

 

-       What impact is moral courage (or the absence of moral courage) having in education?

 

-       At BAM Radio Network the moral courage buck stops with me. What kind of job am I doing and setting the tone for courageous behavior in our learning community?

 

 

Talking at the Surface

 

We all know that there is often a gap between what we think and what we say.   Call it diplomacy, discretion, a filter or fear, some of the most:

 

- enriching,

- life-altering,

 

- game-changing,

- problem-solving,

- progress-producing

- relationship-advancing

 

 

conversations we could have with each other are stillborn.  They are killed by murky social dynamics we don’t fully understand or discuss.

 

For almost a decade, I’ve struggled to reconcile the gap between the education discussions we produce for public consumption and the ones we routinely hear in private.  Too often we’ve ended interviews with the feeling that the most meaningful and valuable exchanges occurred before and after we went “on air.”  But how can we possibly change that?

 

The Call

 

Rosa and I eventually ended up on a call, sharing thoughts, experiences and war stories about moral courage in education.  We mused about how courage plays a role at almost every level.

 

- It takes courage to be candid with kids and say, “I don’t know; let’s figure it out together.”

- It takes courage to navigate the challenging parent /teacher discussions when there’s   disagreement about what’s right for the student.

- It takes courage to resist a culture, policies or programs that may be a disservice to kids.

- It takes courage to act on principle when doing so might mean unemployment.

- It takes courage to speak to the elephants in the room that often show up when discussing everything from assessments to professional development and culturally responsive instruction.

 

The Follow-Up Call

 

Many educators believe passionately that education can change lives and feel called to teach. Similarly, we’ve seen the powerful impact media can have on our lives and feel called to use media to make a difference in education.

 

This is why the call with Rosa led to a tectonic shift at BAM Radio.  Before Rosa, we were willing to simply amplify the voices of thoughtful educators from across the community.  Post Rosa, we feel compelled to facilitate, model and encourage more courageous, transparent on- air conversations.  We feel a heightened obligation to close the gap between the “good” on-air interviews we’ve helped to produce and the “great” discussions that routinely occur offline.  So we begin 2016 in relentless pursuit of more courageous conversations.

 

Leading the Way

 

UnearthED: We’re thrilled to kickoff that campaign with a new show by Dr. Brad Gustafson @GustafsonBrad  and Ben Gilpin @benjamingilpin. It’s called UnearthED and their commitment to deeper, different discussions has already yielded  extraordinary reviews:

 

“These guys are amazing. I’ve never heard such honest dialogue.” – G-Family384

 

“ This show has a different feel.  I love the honest commentary and questions.” - Eii508

 

“UnearthED launches Twitter chats into a whole new stratosphere! This is the conversation I’ve been looking for.” - Rose653

 

# WeleadED Radio: We’re equally excited that Rosa Perez- Isiah @RosaIsiah will be bringing her courageous and experienced voice to BAM Radio‘s leadership channel.  Every exchange I’ve had with Rosa has been thought provoking. We’re confident that she is going to encourage us all to dig a little deeper.

 

The Innovator’s Mindset: Also new on BAM Radio for 2016 is George Couros @gcouros. George is bringing his courageous and innovative ideas to the network as part of  the Innovator’s Mindset collaboration with Vicki Davis. If you love George’s thinking, you’ll love the exchanges with Vicki on the new series. 

 

Mattering Mondays: The collaboration continues with Angela Maiers @AngelaMaiers.  Angela courageously persisted to start a movement around a simple obvious truth - “you matter.”  Angela and Vicki will host Mattering Mondays on BAM Radio Network. Every other week they will share the courageous mindset and tools you need to let students, peers, administrators and parents know that they matter.

 

Uncommon Learning: Eric Sheniger @E_Sheninger  is one of the most courageous education leaders I’ve met. He’s coming back to BAM Radio Network with his three-minute episodes  on creating schools that work for kids.

 

UNward! Finally, under the heading of practice what you preach, I will return to the air to host UNward!  The show is a passion project about the UNconventional, UNcommon, UNtraditional, UNorthodox, anything but UNimaginative people, ideas and organizations driving education forward.

 

 

If Not Now, When?

 

“We're seeing extreme conditions, unlike anything we've seen before.”  - Tim Cook, Apple CEO

 

Whether or not we acknowledge it daily, we are living in exceptional times.  Barely a week goes by in which some pundit doesn’t admit, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”  It’s slowly become clear to all that our times demand fresh thinking and exceptional courage.

 

It’s time to update our world view as Oskar Cymerman @focus2achieve

reminds us in his colorful blog, “This Ain’t no Industrial Age Homie.”

 

But perhaps AJ Juliani @ajjuliani said it best:

 

http://www.bamradionetwork.com/modules/mod_communityquotes/assets/images/leftquote.png Our job is not to ‘prepare’ kids for something; our job is to help kids learn to prepare themselves for anything. 

 

 

How do we do prepare for the unknown? Neither your hairdresser nor Google knows for sure.  All we know is that what got us here, won’t get us there!  We’ll all have to be ready to reinvent ourselves, our programs, our organizations and our approaches to the challenges we face in real-time. Jon Harper’s  @Jonharper70bd must-read post, What a Difference a Week Can Make, drove this point home with humility, compassion and yes, courage!

 

http://www.bamradionetwork.com/modules/mod_communityquotes/assets/images/leftquote.pngA lot can change quickly. So we must be alert. And we must be ready when that opening appears. Because sometimes all it takes is one small gesture to make a big difference.

 

 

So as we jump head first into the deep end of 2016, we’re excited to see where the road ahead will lead. As we reinvent the BAM Radio learning community, we hope to support more relevant, more riveting, more meaningful, more helpful, more useful, and more courageous conversations that matter.  Why?  Because as Todd Nesloney @TechNinjaTodd says repeatedly, #Kidsdeserveit!

 

 

UNward!

 

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I'm the executive producer of BAM Radio Network, which means I get to eat, sleep and drink education talk radio. Over the last nine years, I've been a fly on the wall in over 3,500 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
    Rosa Isiah Wednesday, 27 January 2016

    Thank you, Errol! I'm excited about this new journey. -Rosa

  • Guest
    Rosa Isiah Wednesday, 27 January 2016

    Honored! Thank you, Errol. -Rosa

  • Jon Harper /  @Jonharper70bd
    Jon Harper / @Jonharper70bd Thursday, 28 January 2016

    Wow!! It's 4:30 and I was gradually waking up. But now? This piece is exciting on so many levels. First, Rosa is a tremendous leader and a voice that must be heard. I am so excited that she will be having her own show. Additionally, the first episode of Ben and Brad's show was great and I look forward to the next one. The other amazing podcasts that are starting up this year sound incredible. It is all about courage as you and Rosa point out. We all struggle with it from time to time because it is not always easy. But we can do it together. Great piece!

  • Errol St.Clair Smith
    Errol St.Clair Smith Thursday, 28 January 2016

    [Revised] Guess I was gradually waking up as well!! Just realized that I forgot to acknowledge and thank you for your very supportive post!!! Exciting indeed, and Rosa is one of the most impressive new voices emerging today. "Ben and Bradstreet" as we call them around here, are doing groundbreaking work on and offline. Thanks for taking the time to comeback and give them a shoutout!

    Separately, I found your closing comment very interesting... I'm reflecting on a point you made. "We all struggle with it, (courage) from time to time." I'm wondering if "the struggle" is as infrequent for most people as your comment suggests? Do most people rarely, or only occasionally, struggle with courage? I'm wondering whether I am a cowardly lion or whether my experience is simply more challenging than most. I find that living with integrity, on purpose, in the moment, from day to day requires enormous courage. I find that leaning into the increasingly complex challenges, the accelerated pace of change and the uncertain future requires super-sized servings of courage. Is it just me? Or do others routinely find that the demand for courage, quite often, eclipses supply? I think this is a very important question. Is courage a native quality that just requires an occasional "top up," or is it a quality that has to be nurtured, cultivated and strengthened daily? Thoughts?

  • Jon Harper /  @Jonharper70bd
    Jon Harper / @Jonharper70bd Sunday, 31 January 2016

    You bring up many good questions Errol. I think living with courage, or at least attempting to, is infinitely more difficult than not even bother trying trying to. Courageous acts always take a little bit of ourselves with them. They often are right and they often leave the world a better place. But they are not as easy as quotes and memes may imply. I think surrounding ourselves with courageous people makes it easier at times because it gives us someone to lean on when we feel as if we may fall. By the way, Rosa and the other members of my amazing Voxer group are examples of courage personified and they inspire me to be better each day.

  • Errol St.Clair Smith
    Errol St.Clair Smith Sunday, 31 January 2016

    Your insights resonate with me, Jon. Living courageously, daily, is "not as easy as quotes and memes imply." I've found that your subsequent point is also very true -- "surrounding ourselves with courageous people" is pivotal. I've experienced how both timidity and temerity are contagious. Most of us live on that continuum and are often driven one way or the other by our colleagues. I've sensed Rosa's grit in our exchanges. You are fortunate to be connected to her. Thanks for sharing her with the rest of us! :)

  • Guest
    Rosa Isiah Tuesday, 02 February 2016

    Gentlemen! I am winding down after a late night at work and floating after reading your comments. I am simply attempting to do what so many educators do on a daily basis. We live what we preach and we do it with courage...even when our voice shakes and our palms sweat!
    Jon is a dear friend and part of my voxer support group! I'm delighted that you have connected with each other. Onward!
    Rosa

  • Errol St.Clair Smith
    Errol St.Clair Smith Thursday, 28 January 2016

    Rosa, thanks again for the thoughtful push in the right direction! Looking forward to seeing where your thinking goes next!

  • Guest
    Rosa Isiah Tuesday, 02 February 2016

    My pleasure, Errol. I'm looking forward to our journey together. :)

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