Slice of Life: Consider Your Audience…Message and Purpose

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hThis weekend, my sister-in-law reported the fact that her nephew, my son, had not followed through on a business opportunity she had set up for him.

I knew about this. I knew he wanted it, and was shocked that he had let it slip.

She went on to explain, “His generation operates by text, they don’t understand that the business world operates by email.”

Apparently my son hadn’t checked his email.

I agreed his generation, doesn’t use email as its prime mode of communication. They don’t check it as they do their texts. But, I thought, my email is a dark hole. Things get buried there so quickly. Anything that matters doesn’t go there. Surely executives have similar issues.

“You see,” she went on, “he (the executive) is continually on planes, the only way he can communicate on a flight is by email. He can’t text.”

Oh, got it. Interesting.

We thrive on communication. The ways and the speed at which we do it are exploding. How we harness it, is complicated. And as always, audience matters. If we don’t ask ourselves how do they connect, what are their constraints, and how do I best reach them, we might not connect.

My mother had to learn to call my cell phone. I don’t answer the land line. Forget calling my daughter. Text is the only thing that will get a response.

You might think this is a generational divide. But consider this: I’m trying to get my friend, who is new to Twitter, to a chat. If I want her to get the message as to the time and hashtag, I text her the information. Tweeting her wouldn’t work. That’s not how she gets her information.

So it’s not just generational; it’s how people access information.  And as I thought about it, it’s more than just access, it’s about purpose.

I recently let Voxer into my life. Initially, I resisted. One more way to get communication felt overwhelming.  But I’ve found, Voxer has a purpose and a place.  It allows for a spoken group conversation. Thoughts expressed through talk are different. They are less restrictive and open up possibilities that might be limited by written words. We know talk is necessary in our classrooms, why not in professional development.

Last week, I was involved in a Google doc discussion on a book. We choose this because of accessibility but also for the type of communication.  We wanted a flexible, communal space to share our ideas. Access, our purpose, and the message being conveyed mattered. The tool we choose to communicate with had to match the needs.

With all of this choice in our personal and professional lives, what about our classrooms. The ways we can communicate are so varied and changing, how do we decide what works best for our students. Perhaps by looking through the lens of audience access, message and purpose the choice will become clearer.

And as for my son, apparently it wasn’t too late. Emails were sent and received. The executive was impressed. The opportunity was saved.

Happy ending and lesson learned:  it won’t matter how good the message is if it isn’t heard.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers Blog for providing a place every Tuesday to share our writing. Find more slices here.

Slice of Life Day 27: Failure to Connect

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hDuring the month of March I am blogging daily with others in the Slice of Life Daily Challenge. Thank you  TaraAnnaDanaStacey,  Betsy  and Beth at Two Writing Teachers for providing and supporting this place to learn and grow. Read more slices here.

After school.The class is relatively clean and it’s quiet. Perfect. Prime time for responding, writing, tweeting.

Pull out the computer.

Internet not responding.

Try again.

Same thing.

Change wireless connections. Nada.

Hard wire.

It just spins.

My hands are tied. Everything I need access to is on the web.  Can’t look at student work, it’s on the blog. No reading blogs, writing, tweeting.  Serious irritation.

A year ago, I wouldn’t have even known the internet was down. Last year I wasn’t anywhere near twitter or blogs; my kids’ work was on paper, in notebooks..

Social media and technology in the classroom has opened my world and lightened the load of papers I take home. Opportunities and connections are only limited by the amount of sleep I want to deprive myself of.

But when it doesn’t work, how do I work?

I sit back. The phone. Access. (Can you hear my sigh of relief?)

My teaching partner walks in to tell me the office just put the service call in.  He laughs at me. Just yesterday he came in I had an iPad in one hand, phone in the other.

My after school students are reading, taking this all in.  One looks up from her book and says, “What’s the problem Mrs. Harmatz you were born before the internet, you should be fine.” She laughs. “We’re the ones who are suppose to be all into the internet we’re fine just reading books.”

So wise. I love these kids. They are readers of books with pages made of paper and ink. They are happy just to have space, quiet and time with magazines and books surrounding them.

Old school I think. I open up a document on Microsoft word and start to type.

4:30 rolls around, TCRWP chat time PST. I pull out the  phone and introduce myself. The tweet goes through. I see the first question. and then, a spinning wheel — no tweets loaded.

Really? You’ve got to be kidding me, I say out loud.

My students laugh at me.

I wait. Keep trying other ways. I walk outside, thinking maybe it’s the room. It’s got to come back, I think.

“Ha!  Look at Mrs. Harmatz trying to get reception.”

5:00. Still nothing. Ok that’s it. I’m done. “Kids, sorry I gotta go.”

They look at me. I’m embarrassed to tell them the truth. I think they know.  They pick up and say goodbye. I’m a bit guilty but they are the ultimate benefactors, I rationalize.

Out the parking lot, up the street, and into a local strip mall’s parking lot. Check for signal. Yes!

I’m back.


Re reading this slice, I wonder, do I need a social media 12-step program?  I’m probably asking the wrong audience, but perhaps there is a balance. Anyone?

Slice of Life Day 19: The Power of Social Media

For the month of March, I am blogging daily with Two Writing Teachers. Find more posts from other SOL writers here.11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI fell into the rabbit hole of twitter last summer. I was starving for new perspectives and innovation in my teaching.  I was primed for social media and all it has to offer.

The unending supply of teaching knowledge has me constantly pursuing things I find on twitter and on blogs. I buy books, share blogs, go to conferences, start to do crazy things like schedule my life around twitter chats and respond to crazy challenges like blogging daily for 31 days. Crazy.

The knowledge and depth of the PLN I’ve found makes my head spin. Processing all there is available and then passing on the knowledge I get as a teacher to my students is invigorating and at times confusing and exhausting. I am a learner, so bottom line I thrive in the world of twitter and blogging. Honestly that is all I ever want to do. Call me an expert and I get nervous. I’m much more comfortable being one who is learning and sharing that knowledge.

Word of my passion for social media has travelled far enough to attract the attention of Dr. Robert Bravo, (@robertbravo) Instructional Area Superintendent for my area in the exceedingly large school district I work in. Tomorrow, Dr. Bravo is coming to my school to tape a podcast with me and a few of my students who are avid writers and bloggers. My students are excited. It is exciting. But I’m nervous. Not really for what I might say but for something might I leave out. I hope I can communicate the incredible value of all that exists in the world of social media for educators and their students. I’m a learner and a teacher so for the sake of those like me, I’m more than willing to give it a shot.

Not all love social media, and that is ok. You can’t force it. My hope is, if we open up the door and let people take a look inside, the peak might be enticing enough for some folks to venture in, read a few tweets or posts and who knows, return for more.

Interestingly, word of my social media pursuits has reached beyond my professional life and has creeped into my personal life. Most people worry about the reverse happening.

Conversation with my daughter a few weeks ago-

Mom, my friend told me you have more followers than he does. 

What, is he following me?

No, he just looked you up.

Guess I’m just more popular. What can I say?

Conversation last night.

Change your twitter picture Mom I hate it.

Seriously are you are looking at my twitter?

No, I just don’t like your picture. Let me change it. 

Leave it alone.

I’m changing it.  

Grab. Click. Click. Click.

It’s done, don’t change it back.

Funny. I checked my computer. It didn’t take. Ha! Next she’ll be reading my blog.