Sunday, August 17, 2014

Brown-Nosing? Or Giving Thanks?

When I was a young kid, my "showing respect" to a teacher was sometimes called 'brown-nosing'. I always thought that shiny apple I gave on the first day as a peace offering. I always thought having the stapler positioned just as the teacher wanted it was following directions. I always thought the end-of-school-year thank you card was just that--a big old thank you.

Now, as I'm about to blog what I'm about to blog about...I get all concerned that I'll be called a brown-noser again. (I never did like that term and always tried to justify it in order to toss it away. I mean, I don't do nice things to be given something. Karma often works that way, but it's not my purpose.)

But, I'll risk the name calling, knowing this is nothing more than a big old thank you.

***

Kevin Honeycutt is the man.

Last Tuesday, I attended (and spoke) at a conference in Zeeland, Michigan. Great conference, by the way. Good #MichEd folk there. Lots of good learning from West Michigan educators.

But Kevin Honeycutt was the draw. I don't know too much about him, but I know this: he has, after 10+ years in an art classroom and now 10+ years of speaking on education internationally, developed quite a following--allowing his message to spread to thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of educators and, through them, countless students.

What's his message? He's got too many to name. On Tuesday, though, my take away was that creativity still matters in our profession. And so does technology. And so does sharing this with the world. And all of those can work together. At the keynote, Kevin allowed all 100+ participants to try on his GoogleGlass. Then, this paraphrased exchange:

  • Participant: Why get GoogleGlass at all?
  • Honeycutt: To stay relevant. If I'm not staying with or ahead of the technological curve, then I'm going to fall behind quickly and lose my relevance in the classroom.
He then went on to show us some incredible apps and external tools that allowed students of all ability and language to play music. As he demonstrated, music is a common language for people. Music, especially of this handy and efficient technological kind, has connected him to students when language and physical ability could not otherwise. Technology might just be the tie that binds educators and their students. But once it does, he reminded me that we must share that connection.

If we, as educators, do not share the messages and stories of the incredible things that are happening in our schools, then we are allowing others to do that for us. In a time when funding is hard to come by, we must work harder at showing our value. He encouraged social media to share that message. I'm so proud to see Spring Lake Public Schools (and foundations and parent organizations and individual teachers) have a greater presence over the last year or two. My hope is that it will continue.


But more than any of that gadgetry, I remember this statement: "None of this matters (pointing to his awesome presentation), if we don't have relationships." Everything begins with relationships and, while I know that, it's critical to hear again and again as it can get lost in the other demands of the job. It all comes back to relationships.

I live by that. I know that.

So--call it what you will: a shout out, a thank you, or even one heck of a brown-nosing job. This man deserves a lot of credit for inspiring educators and their students.

You, Kevin Honeycutt, were exactly what I needed a month before starting the new school year.

Thank you!

Follow Kevin in his social media places here: