“We are each the average of the people we hang out with and the experiences we choose.”
Seth Godin, June 13, 2016. (Seth’s Blog)
When I really think about it, my average is, well …., it’s average. It’s not in the realm of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. I’m admittedly and certainly not astronaut material. Topics of conversation in my average day aren’t about rocket science or black holes. But I enjoy reading and experiencing stuff that challenges my thinking. I enjoy connecting to people who talk about difficult topics where I’ll mostly listen to learn. But raising my average isn’t why I do what I do. I’m not consciously choosing experiences that will improve my average. I’m not connecting to smart people to make myself appear smart. I risk and push myself into open spaces to raise my awareness, to learn something new. I step out of my comfort zone to show others it’s OK to risk when learning new things by reaching out and talking to smart people.
Seth Godin talks about the courage it takes to raise your average, as an individual or organization. It takes guts to seek out and engage with people who express ideas and sharing information that you know nothing about – it’ll show your averageness. It’s a risk! Agreed! To seek out and actively engage with smart people and challenging ideas is daunting, but in the end, it will make a difference. It’s not about raising my average, it’s about getting in the game! It starts by taking that first step! It starts by reaching out to others!
Over the past year, I’ve had to dig deep into my courage bank to talk to smart people about challenging topics. I keep reminding myself that this is my choice. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone! It’s a necessary risk to improve my practice as a teacher and learner.
- When attending the New Media Consortium Summer Conference, sharing experiences as a conference correspondent and talking to leaders in educational technology were risks with the inevitable outcome of raising my thinking. I raised my game by attending conference sessions, town hall meetings and participating in hallway chats.
- Participating with Virtually Connecting, in conferences of interest, as a virtual or on-site buddy, I continue to push myself out of comfortable spaces to expand my thinking. Participating at NMC2016 as a Virtually Connecting onsite buddy, I engaged in rich conversations with Autumm Caines, A. Michael Berman, Bryan Alexander, Maya Georgieva, Gardner Campbell, and Dr. Ruben Puentedura. Virtual buddies also share challenging ideas and creative thinking that improves my understanding.
- With the Digital Pedagogy Lab in Prince Edward Island and Virginia, I stepped into virtually spaces with smart people that made my mind work really hard. I turned to video annotation to clarify my understanding. This resulted in a collaboration with Rebecca Hogue and Britni Brown O’Donnell (Transcription as Deep Listening) that raised awareness by going deeper into an exploration of listening in virtual spaces. That’s why I keep risking and stepping into the open. It’s a conscious decision to risk and work hard at engaging in deep thinking.
- Collaborating and co-constructing in CLMOOC this past summer raised my creativity. Sharing time and space with participants kept me on my toes, virtually speaking. Humour, insights, honesty, support and understanding were shared in good measure and resulted in an experience in unbounded creativity and media production.
As I begin a new academic year, joining together with students I’m just getting to know, I’ll continue to step out of my comfort zone and risk going deeper. I’ll support students as they step out of their comfort zones by learning something new in digital and media spaces, many who will be blogging for the first time.
Together we’ll deepen our thinking through rich conversations about difficult topics when teaching with media and digital literacies. Ideas and challenges will continue to spark new directions of thinking for us. Collectively, we’ll seek out and connect to smart people who will share ideas we’ve never thought of before.
It’s not about raising our average. Our understanding and awareness will raise up and go deeper when talking openly about topics that challenge our perceptions, biases and beliefs.
It’s not about raising your average. It’s about improving yourself and understanding your part in our collective humanity.
It’s not about raising my average. It’s about being the best I can be to make a difference for others. That’s the risk worth the reward.
How will you raise your understanding? Who will you reach out to? How will you do this? Where will you risk yourself to gain inspirational rewards?
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