How to Be a Stalker

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 5.52.28 AMI’m about to teach a lesson about researching and connecting. Who wants to learn about researching? Exactly nobody. I survey my audience. Teenaged Facebook fiends drifting off into space. Think quick. We need excitement. The best theatre is performed live…on the spot. So it is with teaching.

“Pay attention,” I say. “You may want to take notes.” Notes. An offer no student can refuse. A few pens rise through the air. “Today, I’m going to teach you…stalking.”

Stalking? Fantastic! Undivided attention…

“Ima stalk that girl who likes my boyfriend…”  Don’t worry, kid, I’ll clarify later.

“We watched three experts in our documentary. We need to know if they’re credible. They might be stupid. I don’t know.” Puzzled looks. I continue, “You know how they always interview that dumb person on the news who says, ‘But he was such a good neighbor, never gave me any trouble…’” Students nod.

Random person yanked off the street, spun as the expert:

“Excuse me, sir, what do you think about the national deficit?” 

“I’m glad you asked. I do my part by buying two burgers at the dollar menu…”

“How do we know if these are the people making an impact in the world? Dig in. Investigate.”

Stalking interests students. There are a ton of Discovery Channel shows about crime and stalking. Stalkers get ratings. Researchers…do not. Unfortunate, because I think researchers do more good for humanity. It’s all in the spin.

“Not like crime-show stalking,” I clarify. “Nothing creepy. Research!” A few students look disappointed. They’ve been had. The bait and switch complete, I continue.

I show them how to connect with real people in real time. How to leverage their research skills, find interesting people in their field, and how to make real-life contact. How evaluate whether the person’s worth his or her weight in salt, and if so, how to reach out.

“Man, this guy’s important,” they say after checking into United Nations Food Guy. They decide running all agriculture grants for Gates is probably a big deal.

“Look! He even has a Twitter! I’m going to follow him!” I look over. Someone has reset the screen savers on the student computers to pictures of our experts. A very good sign.

“This girl invented a new kind of rice that feeds a ton of people. At 18!” Yes, she did. The message I want to send is, “And you can, too.” 

Eventually, they realize we’re not stalking. There’ll be no horse heads in beds, no string of Facebook messages. No cyberbullying. Maybe just an inspired tweet or two with a scientist.

The world is about connections. When we connect, we are unstoppable. It’s a skill no one can take away. It’s a skill I’ve never seen taught in a book.

The power of the world is in our hands with social media. We can research, email, and tweet. We can connect with our heroes. We can use our power to create change, we can be someone’s hero. There are no limits to what each individual can do because every single person holds the power of the world in their hand in a single phone, tablet, or device. Like any good hero, this superpower is limitless. Using “the force,” is such a simple lesson. Using it to be a force multiplier…that is where the true magic begins.

Students can do this.

I ask a question. “What’s the number one thing people love to talk about?”

One girl shouts out, “Themselves!”

“Exactly. You’re not stalking–you’re building relationships. You feel good when people get to know you. Being on the world stage is no different. You connect. You make real friends. And when you make friends with others who want to change the world…you change the world.”

And hopefully, inspire others to do the same.


[image: Peter Sellers as Det. Jacques Clouseau]

Look at These Eggs!!

Eggs from the farm

Eggs from the farm

Look at these eggs. I doubled back, putting the five dollars in the envelope in the cooler that said “Fresh Eggs.” I took the last two dozen. Quite a bargain, I think. The cooler had done its job. It could rest quietly in front of its farm. I pass this farm when I run a lot, but never noticed the “Fresh Eggs” cooler out front. I must have been running slow enough today to see the sign.

I cracked open the cartons. Each one of these eggs is unique. Beautiful. I picked several out and studied them.  I marveled that so many eggs could have so many characteristics. I marveled at this fact.

“You need some serious help,” said one of the voices in my head.

“What a nerd,” said another.

“Don’t you have anything more important to do than stare at the color of eggs?”

I answered them.

“Absolutely. I have exams to grade, curriculum to standardize, I probably should shower, and my favorite Twitter chat’s coming up in a half hour. But…these…eggs…are….stunning.”

“Stunning? Get some help. Shoulda used the five dollars for a copay,” said the voice before going silent. I’m not listening anyway.

Look…at…these…eggs. Every one is different. Unique. Perfect. The way life should let us be.  It shouldn’t put us cartons marked the same, “Grade A Medium White,” or “Extra Large Brown.” Whoa to the egg just a little bit larger, a little bit of a different color, and God help the double yolk.

Nature shows us uniqueness should be celebrated. Creativity, beauty, different thinking, the road less taken. I struggle when I see hate, discrimination, or pressure to conform. I’m sad when I see standardization, negative peer pressure, or the desire to churn out people who are all uniquely…the same. It seems to be the trend in society today. Maybe that’s because I’ve always been like the egg that never quite fit in the carton at the factory when they were measuring.

But these eggs…every single one says, “I have personality! There’s no one like me!”

Being unique is what makes us beautiful. It’s what makes me want to live. It is the magic of life. Strange that I can see it in something as ordinary, or maybe not so ordinary…as an egg.


Honesty Is Such A Lonely Word

Screen Shot 2013-05-26 at 8.05.00 AM“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” –Thomas Jefferson

I was reading a message from a friend who wants to improve his product.  I said I’d give my honest opinion. The other day, I looked at a website. I said, “Looks good–news features are solid, a little intellectual for the topic, it’s clean, designs okay.”  It seemed like there was a disconnect I couldn’t put my finger on though.

“Really?” said my friend, “You’re the only one who likes it.” Well, then, either I’m stupid or a renegade. Either could be true.

“Who’s your market?” He told me. The market wasn’t me–it was my students. I knew exactly what needed to be done. I was honest.

Honesty’s tough to get. When you have people who will be honest, it’s gold. Not simply honesty–you can get that anywhere… “Do you think I look fat?” “Yeah, actually, I saw a picture of a cow and thought of you…” “If there’s a dumber person in the universe, I haven’t met him.” Not that kind of honesty–honesty with love.

Honesty’s no good unless it comes from place in the heart and soul that makes you want to be a better human being, even while you’re having the tough conversations.

I’ve learned volumes about honesly. I was setting up this blog. None of the names worked. My friend Kamal, the author, was helping–he’s plays the “no BS card” well, so he often gets veto power somewhere in the process. It goes like this:

“I was thinking of doing…”

“No, that won’t work.”

“Oh.” Repeat convo ten times. I used to get frustrated–nearly gave up on this blog.

If you’re not going to do this right, don’t bother doing it. Quit right now!” Doesn’t get much more straightforward than that. I set up a template under cover of darkness, so I wouldn’t be caught and told “no.” I’d get it running and surprise him. Truth was, my ego was bruised. Didn’t want to hear “no” again. Even if he was right.

“Is that you following me on WordPress?” How did he catch me? “You can’t call it that. “Wittischism?” That’s no good.”

Too clever. You can’t use words no one knows. NO ONE can spell that. Don’t use double letters. Short as possible. Try again.

The arrows flew. I hung my head and slunk away. Eventually, I succeeded. I love where I am today. Honesty with love…it’s magic.

Anyone can be a critic. But “honesty with love” means you want that person to succeed. “What do you really think of this?” When I am open to that conversation, I leave the table a much better person. My work is better. I am better. I am excited to improve. It’s game changing.

We are trying to do this in education. We’re not there yet. We’re in a very destructive place. We’ve set up a system intended to open the doors to feedback and dialogue, but made it so high-stakes and data-oriented, that it’s become “subjective honesty with fear” instead of “honesty with love.”

This year, I was afraid–terrified. Bad evals based on rubric checkboxes, coming up short on goals I wasn’t quite sure how to design…I was depressed. My husband told me I needed professional help. And that I was forbidden to talk about education at home anymore. Instead of getting help, I planted vegetables. There’s no copay involved and I can eat them.

The Right Kind of Feedback Matters

The Right Kind of Feedback Matters

We can solve issues in education by using “feedback with love.” Include the voice of the students, and do the hardest thing of all–set our own egos aside, and be willing to really listen and handle the truth.

When I look at someone’s manuscript, blog, or product, I know if I say, “Yeah, it’s good,” and it’s not, they suffer down the road–their product won’t be useful and it won’t sell. All because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. That’s how it must be in education–groups of straightforward people inspiring each other to greatness. Right now, I do this with EdCamps and Twitter chats like #satchat and #edchatri,  We can do better. The technology’s there.

If we get this right in education, the paradigm shifts. Recognize everyone’s talent and promote feedback by taking away certification-ending fear. Everyone needs growth and we’re all experts in Our Thing. Put the politics aside and say, “It would be helpful if you’d…” or “Let’s try…” Game changing.

Can we think outside the box on this one?

Can we think outside the box on this one?

When fear, not love, is present, we shrivel up. Instead of seeking out others to exchange ideas, we sink further into our shell. It’s what’s happening now. It’s a place we don’t want to be.

Education needs “honesty with love.”  I asked my friend to tell me how he knows he’s a good doctor. People still get sick and injured. He’s the best. He knows. Even without a rubric.

Here’s the key: Hire good people. Treat them like they’re gold. As a business owner, this is critical. Because of this, we saw growth off the charts in one of the worst economies. We trust our stars to do their jobs with integrity and enthusiasm. The results don’t lie.

Loosening up the reins isn’t easy, but it’s the highest form of leadership. Nothing makes me work harder than when a visionary high-fives me. Nothing stifles my spirit more than micromanagement and fear. Let’s get out of the fear zone and into the vision zone in every area of our lives. It makes all the difference.

I can do better. We can do better, with a lot less effort–using honestly, openness, and feedback with love. Our results won’t lie either.


Sloooowwww Down! And Do Not Delete

Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 6.14.27 AM“No!!” I said as I watched my finger click “Don’t save.”

I was multitasking–talking, thinking, and typing, laptop balanced on my knee. My finger headed for the wrong square. Microsoft Word gave me the a courtesy reminder.

“Are you SURE you want to push the left-hand button, you absolute idiot, given the fact that you’ve transcribed each conversation, pre-written three articles, and put down all your ideas in this one Word document which you haven’t named or saved all day? ARE YOU QUITE CERTAIN YOU WANT TO DELETE ‘DOCUMENT 1’?”

And yet my finger could not change course. It was a little like watching a horror movie, where I know the killer’s in the closet but can’t warn the hero. Click. Fear washed over my body. The document was gone.

“Why didn’t you write it in Google Docs?” said Helpful Friend. The network isn’t reliable at school, usually frozen while Google “searches for the network.” I’ve been programmed to use other things. But thank you for the tip–maybe next time suggest that I save my docs every four days or so.

I’d have issued the “sucks to be you” look if this had been a student.

I was at EdCamp Boston. That’s what EdCamps do–generate eighty ideas at a time. EdCamps are “unconferences.” People get together and share ideas. They present what they want, they move around, when things interest them, and they fall into a million conversations at once–this is just the type of thing a multitasking-probably ADHD-individual loves. I did my thing–I started a discussion about blogging in the classroom, showed how I use Learnist, Twitter and my blog to engage students, but really what I went to do was steal ideas.  “So, does anyone else out there do this? What do you suggest?” It’s a beautiful thing.

I took all my ideas, and typed them neatly into a million-paged document, entitled “Document 1.”

I met some great educators. I went to my favorite presentation of the day, “How to be a badass teacher” which discussed how to maintain a positive outlook in the face of educational challenges, how to give oneself permission to move on to bigger and better things, and how to take back the climate and culture of a school. The discussion was crammed with innovative teachers in a small space in the Microsoft facilities second floor lounge–teachers sprawled on chairs, carpets, corners… all taking notes. “Document 1” was filling rapidly.

“What do I do? I think differently and every time I come up with an innovation, I get put down,” said one teacher.

“We can’t seem to make any changes at my school,” said another.

“All the teachers at my school are old and cranky. And they hang out in the teacher’s lounge.” Everyone nodded.

“How do we create good mentoring situations so new teachers don’t get assaulted by well-meaning but cranky teachers?”  That question got a great answer. I typed it into Document 1.

“Let’s consider that these teachers have a lot of experience,” person suggested. “Maybe they’ve become tired. Been beaten down by the system. Really want to help you not experience the same thing,” he continued, “How do we get these nuggets of information from these experienced educators? Reinvigorate them? Approach them correctly to recognize their experience?” This was a critical comment for me.  I’ll admit I get frustrated–by the roadblocks–testing, standardization, data, data, data…

It’s important to have these conversations. To laugh. To brainstorm. To connect.

I learned so much. I typed away, I quoted, I reflected, introduced, exchanged business cards, ate a sandwich, made a Learnist board, wrote article outlines.

Then pressed delete.

Time to slow down. Pause. Think. Reflect. Consider. Do…not…delete.

All is not lost. The ideas sunk in. And maybe I shouldn’t have been typing all day in Document 1 anyway. It’s important, sometimes, to savor the experience of creating. “Experiences are everything,” says my good friend constantly.  Like when I used to do a lot of photography and spent more time hiding behind the lens than living. It’s like that.

Slow down. Breathe. Consider. Don’t push the button too fast. You’ll miss the essence of what’s behind it all. Life will pass you by.

Cool People Have Business Cards–Not Teachers

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 5.50.30 AMThere. I’ve done it. I’ve ordered business cards.  I promised my partner in crime, a person we’ll call “Shawn,” because that is his name, that I would leave the ranks of losers and get them made. We were at our Educator-Entrepreneur meetup last night. The crowd is getting quite large, especially for a state that barely fits full-sized vehicles.  So large, in fact, that we have stuffed Tazza, our Downcity coffeeshop, to capacity. I didn’t have business cards.  I found myself apologizing.

“Teachers don’t have business cards,” I apologized.  “Only important people have them.”

Even so, it was a good event. Tons of people were meeting, smiling, connecting, and discussing their ventures. Partnerships formed, people pitched products.  Business cards were being thrown down like aces in Vegas. For a minute, I thought I had actually ended up at the casino. I wanted to play, too. But I had no cards. So I had to be like the lady with the drink that always stands behind James Bond and does not play.

Business cards are like little gifts–“Here, I present my awesomeness to you.” Sadly, I came to Christmas unprepared. No awesomeness to present.

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 5.50.42 AMIn my old corporate days, I had cards– standard company-issued ones. They were boring, but they served their purpose of making a recent college grad feel important enough to have a card. That card was worth a lot of student loan debt.

In this crowd, those just won’t do. Innovators and entrepreneurs have awesome business cards–ones that give you badges, ones that have shapes, designs, and convert into tiny gadgets. There was even one that ordered me another beverage when mine was running low. I expect no less from entrepreneurs. If you can’t impress me with a business card, how will you impress someone important with a pitch?

The charter school teachers all had cards. They’re on that cutting edge. But public school teachers–not so much. Society doesn’t think we’re very important. If we were important, we wouldn’t have so many people babysitting us filing reports on how we do, and they’d get us cards, too.

It’s a well-known fact that anyone without a business card is inconsequential in the economic and social development of America. There is one exception to this rule. There are, in fact, people who are so cool that they transcend cards. I talked to one such person–he’s a maven of marketing for a Silicon Valley ed tech company, I happen to like quite a lot–Learnist.

“Oh, we don’t have cards. We bump phones.” Well, we in education, do not “bump phones.” In many school districts, they’re not even permitted. It’s quite difficult to bump something that’s not allowed.

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 7.34.29 PMMy friends Carrie and Shawn commanded me to make cards, and I obeyed. I feel better already–ready to dial up Arne Duncan and give him some thoughts.

I decided to design my business cards with some of my favorite inspirational quotes. Rumi, the Buddha, C.S. Lewis, Robert Louis Stevenson… I even let my author friend slip in there for a quote, because he’s getting so deep that people make slideshows of his quotes and tweet about them. I’ll put him in for one. Maybe someday he’ll earn another, but not quite yet. These honors don’t come easy. In the mean time, that slot goes to Vince Lombardi.

I wanted to steal my friend Marianne’s card’s quote, “I work because I love this shit,” which I think is the best business card of all times, excepting the one that orders drinks. I didn’t have the cajones. I save bad words for emergencies. Work is usually not an emergency–chaos at times, but not an emergency.

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 5.50.59 AMSoon, I’ll be able to stuff my pockets with business cards again and give them to every person passing on the street corner. They’ll say, “Wow. She’s cool. What an awesome card.”

My partner in crime disagrees. He says that business cards are not about importance at all. Equating them with social status is absurd, he remonstrated. They are about intention. Do we intend to get beyond the classroom? Do we plan to get out there and meet the game changers? Even be one of them? Do we plan to rot in our classrooms or connect and change the world? That, he said, is why we need business cards. To connect and change the world. He’s probably right.

P.S.  If you are an innovative educator, or an ed tech entrepreneur who wants to meet educators for the purpose of feedback, collaboration, or sharing of ideas, please consider joining us. Contact me here or at You can also find me on Twitter at @runningdmc. You can check out what we are up to on the EdUnderground Website. 

How Technology is Changing the World–No Oxford Comma???

I’m drinking coffee and reviewing social media. I love when there’s an honest to goodness conversation unfolding on Facebook or Twitter. I don’t get those deep conversations in person as much anymore–the “college type” where we sat all night putting off papers some grad assistant from another country would be forced to read while we discussed the deeper meaning of life–talking about things that mattered, building relationships that still remain. The types of conversations I have with my lifelong friend, who suffers from the same “mental chaos” that I have, where seven conversations swirl around at once, no one single thread emerging, all mysteries until each of them resolve like a manuscript of short stories which got tossed on the floor and then reordered.

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 5.42.48 AMThis morning’s social media had two excellent conversations. The first one was about grammar. I posted an article by way of apology to my famous sister (she is the Mary Casey of this brief) on the issue of spacing after a period. She has repeatedly reminded me to use only one space typing at the end of a sentence. Am I that big a nerd that I can bring out ten or so of the biggest grammar guns on two coasts to discuss whether we should have one or two spaces after a period, and whether the Oxford comma should still be in use? I believe that I am. Writers, Ivy Leaguers and innovators all discussing a space at the end of the sentence. That’s deep. Cliff Clavin just called to congratulate me.

The second conversation was my friend’s “Should I change my Twitter handle?” I never cared about such things before–I came into the Twittersphere late, but now that I’m here nothing impresses me more than someone whose handle is their initials. Or better yet, one letter.  Wow, you really are a “g.” Or @G to be more precise.  Amazing.

That’s almost like the fight over license plates in the State of Rhode Island. The first time I went to the RI DMV, the person said, “Honey, what initials would you like?” What plate would I like? The one you give me, I guess.  Turns out in Rhode Islanders must have their initials. People pass down low-numbered and initialed plates in their wills. No joke. There were no “DC’s” available. She was waiting for my panic. Because she was the only DMV person who ever cared about my feelings, I gave her an answer. “I’ll take OM.”  Ohm wasn’t in my name, but I figured I’d at least get some good driving karma.

I bet Rhode Islanders would be good on Twitter. It’s a small state; we can fit it in 140 characters or less.

Technology has changed so much of what I do and the process in which I do it.  I can’t even make a phone call anymore. I was needed on a phone call one day. “I’ll put you in his calendar.” I counter-offered. “How about you tell him to call me, and when he calls…I’ll answer.”  Laughter on the other end. Hysterical laughter. Watching Louis CK after a couple of beers laughter.

The world is changing. No Oxford comma? No double space? No simple phone call? I am a history person by trade–Maybe the world of education really is that far behind. I sought out my college friend Heather to investigate. When you’re friends with someone for so long, they’ll tell you the truth. “Oh, Dawn…you are so, not…corporate.  Of course you need to calendar in a phone call.”

But I was “corporate.” I used to call attorneys on a regular basis and negotiate stuff. If I didn’t like the person, I’d wait till I knew they were out and info-bomb their voicemail. That’s what email does for us today–cuts out the pleasantries, I guess.

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 5.45.45 AMAnd so, I’ve gone to the Other Side.  I just calendared in a phone call for later today, filed emails in several boxes in accordance with their importance, and am resolving two tasks from my pop-up reminder list. I guess it’s nice that Google and my iPhone combine forces to deal with my “mental chaos” and chime me into a state of obedient productivity.

And it’s definitely good that the world of education is catching up–tomorrow, I’m going to go on a site visit to a really progressive school to get some inspiration. I know this, because my calendar just chimed in to remind me.

But I will not, I repeat, will not–give up my Oxford comma.

[Image: and]

Tardiness, Cluelessness, and Lack of Balance

Screen Shot 2012-12-11 at 10.18.38 PM

I was going to a conference on a topic that I suspected was not going to be exciting. My boss suggested I go, and since he’s right about many things, I decided to listen. I was not really excited about the topic, but I figured I’d survive till 2PM with enough fully charged devices, so I went.

I tried to be on time–there is never an excuse for being late in my book. I’d make it to work early in the snow. People two feet down the road would show up an hour late and try to pull the weather card.

“It’s snowing! Gee, thanks, Jim Cantore–try this–watch the weather, get up early, and leave your house. That’s what people do.

In Rhode Island, there’s pretty much never an excuse for being late other than “I’m inept.” I’ve been struggling with this one myself lately since our move to the forest.  My mind refuses to acknowledge the fact that I’m geographically farther from work on a road frequented by farm and recycling trucks with no passing zones. I can’t seem to comprehend that I cannot physically leave at the Old Time and get to work early. It’s neurolinguistic programming–habits and ruts that we build deep in our minds that we have to reprogram.  This is a deep one.

But there is never an excuse for tardiness in a state the size of a yardstick. Even in the unfortunate event of a traffic pileup, it’s possible to get off the exit, which in Rhode Island is probably six feet down the road, and back-road it the rest of the way.  People don’t though–they’ll sit in traffic instead.

“I didn’t know how to get around it.”  That’s why the Lord invented GPS.  Even if your iPhone mocks you by sending you random places, in this state, you can’t be too far off.  Just follow the direction of the sun and stars. You’ll still get there on time.

But for this conference, I was late. Perhaps it was my motivation level that day.  I walked in five minutes after the appointed time. Generally, this is okay for teacher functions because teachers take more than five minutes to chat and get coffee, then even more time ignoring requests to listen. I figured I could slip in unnoticed.

There was another participant walking in late. I walked in with her. We chatted on the way from the parking lot.  Finally, I did the right thing–I introduced myself.

“You look familiar,” I said.  “My name is Dawn.”

“I know,” she replied. “I work with you.”

Indeed, she did. She was hired at the beginning of the year, we had talked once or twice, and then I retreated to my classroom. I haven’t left since.

How do you recover from that?  There is no way to dig out of stupidity that deep. I was forced to go with the classic, “My bad,” which includes an offer to buy lunch. That’s the last resort when admitting you are dumber than tree mould.

That would have been tragic enough if I hadn’t done it once before. I did it in my own neighborhood after living there a good half-decade. I was in my next-door neighbor’s yard. She had a friend over chatting. I introduced myself.

“I know. I’m your neighbor across the street.”  I had waved to the woman for six years, but when I saw her twenty feet over into the next yard, completely out of context, she was unrecognizable to me. In the end, though, she delivered my son. She turned out to be the maternity ward nurse.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is. Maybe that we’re not as neighborly as we used to be and that everyone is so busy dealing with their own stuff that we’ve lost that sense of community. That work really has become a rat race, and that we don’t break out of our molds and habits enough to pay attention. That the speeding up of the world forces us to dullen ourselves to personal experiences around us…That we lack balance in so many areas of our lives.

Yesterday, I was copy-editing a pile of senior thesis papers. There was one about the evils of social media. After checking my Twitter twice, I finished reading the paper, whose thesis was apparently that social media has horrific effects on the teen developmental mind. It turns them into antisocial malcontents who lack balance and can’t have a real phone conversation or interact in person. I’m thinking of a conversation I had with a great friend whose one flaw is that he never calls back, “I’m not good at the phone, but I rock it in person.”

Society has changed. It’s faster, more efficient, has lots more cool gadgets. But my senior was right, even as I said, “Nuh-uh,” throughout the whole thesis. At times, the world speeds up so much that I sometimes lack balance. Though I get tons more done, I rush from thing to thing, apparently missing some really cool people at the same time.

I was at a meeting tonight, where a local superstar educational leader** discussed that very concept, suggesting that working hard in the field of education was critical, but that we need time for our families, too. We need balance.  We need to prioritize, slow down and attend to what is important–our loved ones. He was right. I’ve often felt it ironic that I save the world’s children while at times ignoring my own. I’m improving.

Balance is difficult. I always seem to do better during food production season when there are veggies and fruits to grow, things to can, and nature to watch. While there are plenty of tasks that need doing, the fact that I get to stop and watch something grow makes me marvel at the moment–and reminds me to just sit and be. To enjoy the gift of the present and to consider that nature cannot be rushed, that we must enjoy its seasons. To realize this is to discover the smallest part of the meaning of life. It is the essence of balance.

[Plug: The educational leader in question is a co-moderator of #Edchatri, one of my favorite Twitter chats. It’s on Sundays at 8PM, and it’s not just RI anymore! Check it out!]