Celebrating Those Who Deserve It: A Tribute To My Mom

This video has been circulating on the Internet for the past month and it has really opened my eyes to how wonderful and great moms really are. I rarely involve my own personal affairs in this blog, but this is one exception I HAVE to make. Because without my mom, her unconditional love and support, and her financial generosity, my social media education mission and DVD would have hit a wall within the first few months. And after watching this video, I realized just how much she has done for me over the years and how infrequently I show her how much I appreciate it.

Throughout this long and tedious process, my mother has stood by my side tall and proud, no matter my mistakes or frustration with a certain situation that was wrongly displaced onto her. She is such a strong and beautiful woman and she is the one who has taught me not only how to be confident but also patient and understanding when others need me to simply listen (which I will admit is extremely hard for me to do sometimes).

Moreover, we have a really weird and complicated bond because I am her only child. Growing up, it was only her and me, me and her. We did everything together and to this day tell each other just about everything. We are each other’s best friends. Though she says I never really had a childhood because I was always surrounded by her and her adult friends, whenever I reflect on my childhood, I think of all of the days we spent exploring The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis or hiking at a state park. I fondly remember her and I walking hand in hand, marveling at the animals at the zoo. And I cannot contain my smile when I think of the time we sprayed our entire backyard with food coloring when it was covered in a thick layer of snow and how intrigued I was with the different colors. Without these memories, I would not have the same amount of curiosity about the world or my fervor for learning more and exploring the possibilities of what could be if one simply tries.

In short, without my mother, I would not be the person I am today. I would not be as successful as I am today; I would not be a business owner; I would not be interested in professional networking; I would not understand what is appropriate conduct for the outside world. And without her, I would not have the same love for gardening or bird watching. In addition to all of the lessons she has taught me throughout my short eighteen years under her wing, she enlightened my soul to appreciate life for the great wonders it truly holds and how precious time with family and friends truly is.

I feel as though this post is extremely overdue, but with my leaving home and attending college in the fall, my mother and I have both recently been reflecting on our time together thus far and so this post also couldn’t be better perfectly timed.

If I could put it into words while looking my mother in the eyes without crying so hard that she could not understand what I was saying, I would tell her that I am so grateful for her love, patience, support, faith, and kindness not only for me but for life itself. I would thank her for not killing me when I scratched her new car, for hugging me when words were not enough, and for telling me the hard truth even when I didn’t want to hear it. I would offer her a hug that would last forever so that she would never have to live in an empty nest and apologize for not appreciating her enough.

We don’t know how long we have on this earth. Tomorrow, the woman who carried you for nine months, held you on her hip for years for comfort, and acted as your soundboard, maid, support system, personal bank service, cook, and most importantly your ATM of unconditional love, could suddenly lose her strength to carry her and you both and have to make the choice to put you first one last time. So look your mother in the eyes, pick up the phone, Skype her, do SOMETHING, and tell her how much you appreciate her love for you and always making you her top priority, even if you didn’t feel like she was. Your mother is your greatest role model for so many things. Let her know you finally understand and appreciate it.


Is There Room For Social Media Use in Higher Education?

In February, I ran across this article written by Rachel Reuben titled “The Use of Social Media in Higher Education for Marketing and Communications: A Guide for Professionals in Higher Education” and was immediately intrigued by the content of the article. Unfortunately the most recent citation it has is from 2008 and the article primarily focuses on utilizing Myspace and older social sites in higher education, but the concepts are still relevant to the social media sites we use today. Throughout my research I have crossed paths with the first visual included in the article that depicts the variety of social media networks available in the 21st century and categorizes them in terms of their primary use. Most of the sites included on the graph are sites I have never heard of (seriously, what is hi5 and was it really used as a social media site?) but the article does speak of a social networking site I believe we all are very familiar with: Facebook.

Though I have strayed away from discussing most social networking sites besides Twitter on my blog since beginning my mission, there are numerous sites that can be utilized for personal and professional use for students, educators, and other professionals. In my personal social media dictionary, Facebook as been defined as “a social networking site utilized primarily for personal conversations with friends and family.” It is considered more personal than Twitter and is usually not used for professional use; however, it has benefits that Twitter does not have, such as free reign of characters in a single post and the ability to create events–which would be extremely beneficial for those trying to connect professionals to each other and in a safe environment to meet, collaborate, and network.

Moreover, this article discusses how social media can be used in higher education and provides statistics about college students utilizing a variety of sites. If these statistics were then used to help universities understand how beneficial social media could be for their classes, once again, students would be provided the opportunity to network with professionals and propel their career forward. In college, students are encouraged to intern at different places and explore career opportunities. What better way to get connected with these professionals/businesses than social media?

College is meant to be a vessel from high school (childhood) to the real world and your professional career (adulthood). Thus, students are encouraged to intern at businesses similar to their future careers and make connections with professionals that will help them climb the business ladder. If high school students and younger people are utilizing social media for a professional use, then those students enrolled at a collegiate level should as well.

When Did High Test Scores Reflect Student Success?

I mentioned Suli Breaks and his Youtube video “Why I Hate School But Love Education” in my blog post “A Student’s Revelation & The Calm To Follow.” His poems inspired me to chase after my dream of starting my own business and producing my DVD because his message to students is that a college degree does not automatically equal success and a lack of college education does not automatically equal failure. In another video, “I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate,” Breaks speaks directly to students and asks, “How many times have you remembered something 5 minutes just after the teacher said, “Stop writing” only to receive your results a month later to realize that you were only 1 mark short of the top grade? Does that mean remembering 5 minutes earlier would’ve made you more qualified for a particular job?” My answer would be no, though Breaks points out that, unfortunately, on an application form it would.

“I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate.” – Suli Breaks

Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 11.03.37 AM

For months I have advertised my idea for integrating social media into the education system and have, therefore, suggested the need for a reform in education. I have stated students do not enjoy school, as it does not teach them–us–the information appropriate for our 21st century workforce. I have argued students’ methods of compiling a plethora of information before an exam, regurgitating facts for that final A, and then dumping out the material before consuming another load for the next semester. Despite the fact that I  have previously written a post about the changes coming to the SAT in 2016, this is simply not enough. What I am calling for is a complete overhaul of the education system’s current regulations and standards, as well as the messages they send to students.

As many educators are aware, many students today lack passion and interest in their own education. To them, learning is another mundane action that leads to no benefits or gratification. However, what would happen if they were able to personalize their education and pursue their personal interests while still meeting state standards? Would they not be more motivated to continually gather more information about topics that relate to their interests? Would this method not reinvigorate students’ love for learning?

I understand that it takes two to tango: Not only do the teachers need to prepare the student for the opportunities they will be given when utilizing social media for professional use and exploring their own interests/future careers, but the students themselves need to be receptive to the information and “101 guides” on how to properly maneuver these new forums they will be given, such as social media sites and the freedom and responsibility to make good choices. But do we students not deserve it?

Do we not deserve the opportunity to expand our learning past the four walls of a traditional classroom? Do we not deserve to be encouraged to follow our dreams, to be invigorated with the messages our forefathers sent us about chasing after what you believe in and standing up for your rights? Do we not deserve a chance to be more successful than those who have walked before us?

We, as the future generations and the future of this society, nation, and world, deserve these opportunities. Because these opportunities will not solely benefit us and our future wealth and success. These opportunities to be creative, innovative, professional, and entrepreneurial will not only inspire us to continue learning and researching about the newest technologies available for our respective careers but will inspire us to create the next software company that is 100% free of scams and viruses, to develop the cure for diseases such as AIDS and cancer, to join together as one in hopes that we will create a better future for our own children and the generations to follow in our footsteps. My mother and countless other parents around the world have told their children that they want them to have a better life than their parents. So why are we prohibiting the means to achieve that goal?

Intelligence cannot be determined solely by an exam grade, ISTEP score, or SAT achievement. It cannot be measured by achievement tests, projective tests, or any other type of test that officials have created to measure what they believe defines intelligence. And the scores students receive on quizzes, exams, and standardized tests do not define their future.


Bammy Awards Nomination And What It Means For You

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 7.19.44 PM

This morning I was nominated for a Bammy Award in Student Voice by Brad Currie, an educator who I worked with in the blog post “Dean of Students Encourages Well-Rounded Social Media Gurus.” He also contributed a quote to my DVD, which will be available in the upcoming week!

As the first sentence under the tab “Eligibility and Guidelines” states, “The Bammy Awards are about celebrating the spirit of collaboration — it’s about ‘WE,’ not me.’” That being said, this is not a nomination solely for myself, but for all who are passionate about integrating social media into the classroom and share in my mission. The section continues, describing the honor it is for the community to receive an award. So, please, consider yourselves already honored. Though I have not been named the recipient of the award (is it too bold to say yet?), I want you, my audience, colleagues, and collaborators, to feel accomplished and appreciated, for without your help and passion, social media would not be on its way to its incorporation into the curriculum and students would be unaware of the power they possess in their social media profiles.

I do want to take a moment to acknowledge what an honor this means to me also, though, as this is such an amazing opportunity and wonderful privilege. Throughout my seven months enrolled in my Innovations class, I have discovered and rediscovered my passion for establishing social media usage in the classroom and its importance to the success of students’ careers. I have been called “a role model for students,” “the best example of Student Tech Leadership in the US,” and–my personal favorite–a “rockstar.” I have collaborated with unbelievably inspirational people around the country, such as Howard Rheingold, Eric Sheninger, and Vicki Davis; but more importantly, I have gathered great support from wonderful educators and other individuals who continually show me how impactful my mission is and that motivates me more than any kind word. Those who exemplify my reasons for pushing social media education and show me how my mission has impacted them is the greatest gift I could be given and that is why the Bammy Awards statement I quoted resonates with me.

My mission–and this honor–is not for self-fulfillment or self-acknowledgement. Yes, I am proud of where my mission is headed and how much I have personally grown since August 2013, but my success would be much more limited without the help of my supporters. Without your help, I would not have been nominated for such a prestigious award or have the motivation to continue spreading the word of social media education and its importance in the education system.

Repeating this blog’s title, what does this mean for you? It means your hard work and dedication to social media education is being heard! Though not each and every one of you has been nominated for the award, please consider my nomination yours as well, as we are a community. The success of my social media education and my DVD is not mine alone: I share it with all of you.

Please vote for me as the recipient of the Bammy Awards in Student Voice by going to this link. If I am chosen as the recipient, I will be invited to the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. in September! Thank you all for this amazing opportunity and for never allowing your faith in my mission waiver! You all are truly wonderful!



Innovative Educators Involving Their Students In New, Creative Ways

Innovative Educators Involving Their Students In New, Creative Ways

Yes, this post’s title is sarcastic. And I may not be able to hang out at the bar with the guys (yet), but that doesn’t mean I can’t be a part of the conversation! I want to give a big shoutout to Don Wettrick and Eric Sheninger for taking this picture and posting it to Twitter! Follow them at @DonWettrick and @NMHS_Principal on Twitter! (And don’t forget to follow me at @paige_woodard. A little shameless promotion never hurt a soul!)

What Not To Do On Twitter: Number Two

Social media has been on the menu for nine installments now and this week I am discussing why it is important to avoid serving profanity at dinnertime. We are almost to number one. Can you guess what it is? Tweet at me @paige_woodard #socialmedia with your guess as to what the number one thing not to do on Twitter is and, if you guess correctly, you can Skype me and discuss everything social media and education reform! Or, as I stated in my video, the TV show Reign! 😉

Dean of Students Encourages Well-Rounded Social Media Gurus

Preceding my trip to Stanford, finding administrators and teachers to discuss social media with me was a little challenging. My follower numbers on Twitter were minimal (though they aren’t as high as I want them to be now) and scoping out potential prospects to contribute to my blog was tiresome. 

Now, however, I have ample amount of assistance from a variety of people and I am ever so thankful. My job to bring social media to the education system is made so much easier when I have people offering their opinions and examples of social media in their own classrooms, as this broadens my database and credibility for my mission and, especially, my DVD. 

Last week I made conversation with numerous individuals passionate about embedding social media into the education system. Today I am posting an interview with Brad Currie, K-8 Supervisor of Instruction and Middle School Dean of Students for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. I connected with him through Twitter, of course, and he shared the unique ways he has observed other schools encourages social media usage in the classroom. 

“The use of social media in the school setting is a great way for students to stay connected with important classroom information and make sense of their own learning. For example, I know of several school across America that utilize Twitter hashtags to answer questions in class and backchannel during a particular learning experience.”

I have found in my own research that this is a common trend. Teachers will use their last name and subject in hashtags such as #smithapbio to differentiate their class from another’s. In Innovations, we use #Innovations or #FCHSInnovations to start a trend of the information we are posting on Twitter. Currie also mentioned another use of social media (such as Pinterest) that I have not yet thought of. 

“There is also a trend in education that has schools leveraging the power of social media through Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, to communicate with stakeholders and promote student and staff achievements.”

I love the idea of a school corporation collaborating with individual students to celebrate their accomplishments. I believe this would conjure more support for social media in the classrooms and unify the school district. 

Currie ended his interview with a wonderful point that I want to outline for all of my readers. Teachers are the mediums between students and success. Without teachers, students would not be provided the information that will make them successful. And I use medium lightly, as I do believe teachers are more than just the funnel between students and success, as great teachers help to shape their students into great people. I am very grateful to have met amazing teachers in my school career that not only care that the students pass certain tests and meet certain standards, but also maintain a connection with their students to assist them in meeting necessary life goals and learning lessons in and outside of the classroom. Here is what Currie said that inspired me:

“Educators who are true lead learners are staying connected with each other through social media and sharing best practices resources and ideas. This collaboration enables students to benefit directly and provides an atmosphere that highlights a true love of learning.”

Though it takes more time out of the day for personal interests, teachers who enable students on a daily basis encourage much more than a simple A on a test. They inspire students to follow through with their dreams, passions, and life goals. They uncover new talents and expose creativity and originality hiding in every child. Teachers inspire success. Teachers encourage happiness. Teachers teach well-roundedness. 

This is my goal. To assist students in yet another step of their lives. Though I am not a hard-working teacher with the degrees to back me up, I want to encourage students to take care of their futures by censoring what they post online. As Matthew Schott once told me, what you put on the Internet is a zombie. It lives forever. 


If you are interested in learning more about Brad Currie, you can follow him on Twitter at @bcurrie5 or visit his website www.bradcurrie.net.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter at @paige_woodard!