Looking Up Instead of Down

Kristen NanBlog, Engagement, Innovation, Technology

Image of wooded areas for blog post - Looking Up Instead of Down

In This Post:

  • What does our learning look like if we are disconnected?
  • What I saw in each of my family members, gave me true reflection as to how I will enter my classroom each day and deliver an opportunity to learn.
  • How would learning look if we disconnected to reconnect?
  • Maybe the simplicity we were lost in while camping is now giving way to a new opportunity and a chance to critically think?
  • The silence that I felt in the woods this past week, reconnected me to the simple things in life.
  • Let’s challenge ourselves to look up and look at one another in the eyes.
  • We must find balance in how we serve our students, families, communities, and ourselves.

While I am a huge fan of technology and the endless benefits of embedding it into my teaching, I recently experienced another viewpoint that had me looking up instead of down.  While setting up camp with my family, we each took note of the WiFi availability and lack thereof at times.  The use of technology was a necessity at every turn, or at least we thought! 

We must find balance in how we serve our students, families, communities, and ourselves. Click To Tweet

I was supposed to be using this time as a writer’s retreat to work on my book.  My eldest son was hoping to fish off the premises so the need to make contact was of high importance.  The weather app has always been my husband’s saving grace to help us prepare for the day.  Let’s not forget about my youngest who typically retreats to gaming when the rain pours down and the temperature drops. However, the WiFi was not available consistently and we found ourselves making eye contact with new choices.

This had me thinking.  What does our learning look like when we are disconnected?  I’m not saying throw out the new and bring back the old, but what I saw in each of my family members gave me true reflection as to how I will enter my classroom each day and deliver an opportunity to learn.   It also gave me pause as to how we as a society handle the uncomfortable. 

Are we looking up instead of down

Reconnecting by Disconnecting

My family reconnected through conversation and idea generating.  We were brainstorming ways that we could embrace our trip, and not just pacify ourselves until we regained “connectivity.”  This led to conversations that generated new thoughts, brought upon laughter, questioning, pushback, and even silence. WOW!  We were on a roll and we didn’t even realize it.

What might this look like in the classroom? How would learning look if we disconnected to reconnect? What if we each embrace our own resources, the kind that does not plug in?  Why will it serve us better if we have to dig a little deeper and rely on one another to problem solve something that can be researched with the click of a button? I love to connect and change the game of learning!  Maybe the simplicity we were lost in while camping is now giving way to a new opportunity and a chance to critically think?

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Question What Connectivity Means in the Classroom

If I asked my students, would they say it means technology and the global impact that we aim for with our learning?  Would they talk about the relationships that they have built with one another? I wonder if they connect their creativity to the collaboration that they do with others? Might they speak of the empowerment they have unleashed by connecting to their passions?  What does this word mean to them? I will find out, will you?

Reconnecting Through Discomfort

I notice the escape that technology provides when the conversation gets uncomfortable.  The moment that someone picks up their device and scans for a distraction. When they peer out over their phone while listening in to a topic that is there for the taking. Why do we fear a different perspective? Or maybe it isn’t the conversation at all, but the silence that becomes deafening and leads to potential boredom.

The silence that I felt in the woods this past week, reconnected me to the simple things in life.  The animals scurrying about, the laughter of the kids while they ran through the creek, the crackling of the fire that gave off warmth. It is also a reminder that the conversations we have are not always ones that I find myself connected to or that I typically choose to be a part of, but staying in the moment and walking away with a new understanding of the people that mean the world to me is a gift that is unmatched.  

When did I stop listening?  Am I disconnected? Did my tech become my distraction instead of my gain?

Lessons in Looking Up

By looking up instead of down, I saw the eyes of my 16-year-old son, Trent, and the sparkle they exuded while telling me about the five-pound fish that did not get away!  I saw the mud-caked face of my 13-year-old son, Jack, and the stories that unraveled in the creek with friends.  I saw the sparkle in my husband’s face as he continued to dance on cloud nine with our new permanent site that has opened up more opportunity to step away and disconnect than ever before.

Let’s challenge ourselves to look up and look at one another in the eyes.  We must find balance in how we serve our students, families, communities, and ourselves.  How can we create connectivity that will drive learning alongside the living?  How can we create a culture that incorporates STOPS in order to START, as Jimmy Casas and Jeff Zoul remind us in “Stop. Right. Now.: 39 Stops to Making School Better

What might disconnecting to reconnect look like for you?


About Kristen Nan

Kristen Nan - Educator, blogger, thought leaderLife is about choices… CHOOSE POSITIVE! After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Elementary Education (with an emphasis in Emotional Support) Kristen Nan started her career in Learning Support then moved into the regular classroom teaching 3rd grade at Hopewell Elementary, HASD, in Aliquippa, PA for the last 21 years. She is a dreamer…an optimist… a disruptor in education! Her mantra is empowerment at all ages. Kristen believes empowering students to make decisions builds strong character. She instills this with T.R.U.E G.R.I.T. Kristen was most recently awarded 2017 Week 1 Steeler Chevron Leader in the Classroom for innovative practices.

Visit: kristennan.com

 

Top header image photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash.