Friday, March 5, 2021

Networking and Growing as an Introvert?


Recently I've started to focus more on my networking. A post I saw on Linkedin really made me think. The concept of the post was how to get a promotion and/or raise. The content was about not waiting for others to notice you but to force them to notice you. Alright, not exactly force them to notice you but brag about yourself or make sure they're aware of your accomplishments. 

I started to write a response to the post right on it as a comment, but realized that I needed to think my response out more and it was probably going to be longer than a quick response. So here it is. 

Image Source
Jane Underwood, Linkedin
The advice made sense but how do you accomplish that goal when you're an introvert? Some people reading this are probably thinking "Cori you're not an introvert. You never shut up." This is kind of (definitely) true, but listen when I speak because I'm normally rambling nonsense. When I'm in a situation where I'm trying to introduce myself, whether it be a social or professional, I just can't do it. I'll find I can't find the right words, I'll say um, ah, aaaaa, and am definitely making the conversation very awkward. 

I've always had this problem with job interviews and I'm sure I've lost out on more than one position because of my awkwardness during the process. Now, I actually feel that introvertness in my current position. My boss tells me to list all my certifications and titles at the beginning of every presentation, webinar, or training session. When I said I don't feel comfortable doing that, a colleague was assigned to "introduce the speaker" and rattle off the list of titles and certifications that you see on the right bar of my website. See, I can show my accomplishments on my website, but I don't feel the need to brag about them. I'm not one of those people that puts every badge on my email signature because it will show my expertise. I have them in one place and that should be enough.

Yes, I have tons of certifications and for many of them I have worked very hard but they don't actually mean much. I mean, they do, but I don't think they're bragging worthy. The only title I have right now that I feel is worthy of bragging isn't even a title. I was selected as part of a national delegation last year for an international educator's conference. It's the only thing where I actually "beat the competition" to be selected. For many of my certifications, I just checked the requirement boxes.

Additionally, many of my titles that have been earned are collaborative accomplishments. When I became a Certified Innovator, I had a group of students and a parent help with the application video. I then attended a three day program where I worked with a team of other educators to complete a project for change. Let's not forget that while I attended that three day program, my colleagues all had extra work because they were down a teacher and agreed to give up their prep periods to allow me the time to attend the program. 

When I got my degree, I had support from the school district I was working at during that time. The district reimbursed part of my tuition to help ease the financial burden of completing a degree. Many assignments required me to try things with my students and reflect. So without a class of amazing students that completed new lessons instead of the old curriculum ones, I would not have had the ability to complete my personal assignments. My administrator served as my advisor and supervisor for the internship part of my program. She had to meet with me weekly and completed paperwork to ensure I completed the requirements for state certification. 

Image Source
@sylviaduckworth
So yes I have a ton of accomplishments, but none of them are really mine. Back to the original point of this post, I don't feel comfortable drawing attention to myself when it's really not just myself. Every title I have earned belongs to all the people that helped me achieve them. My students, my colleagues, my mentors.  I don't feel right bragging about stuff that would not have been possible without my support system that was in place. Some would say this could be defined as imposter syndrome. I don't feel like an imposter that will be found out. I just know that nothing I have accomplished belongs to just me and therefore have trouble bragging about it. I am grateful every day to my support system that has gotten me to this point.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Simple Leap Might Lead to An Amazing Experience


I took a big leap last night. A few of Southeast PAECT's members have been conversing with a local celebrity, Second Lady of Pennsylvania, Gisele Fetterman. For those of you that don't know who she is (it's okay), I will admit that prior to a news article about her, I had no idea who she was either. Honestly, until Covid, I hadn't even paid that much attention to our Lt. Governor John Fetterman. Now I follow them both on Twitter because their back and forth banter is funny and a welcome relief from many political posts. 

Twitter Feed
Besides their adorable teasing of each other, Gisele Fetterman also tweets about her many charities. One of these charities is what lead to our recent back and forth and my leap of sending an email. Fetterman recently shared her excitement for being assigned an adopted family to cook dinner for through lasagnalove.org. This started the discussion for me when I responded that I wish I knew how to make a lasagna and she responded we could learn together.

Flash forward to the next exchange with myself and one of our regional board members when I tweeted about doing a virtual cooking class for #TeacherSelfCare and she responded "Please invite me ❤️❤️❤️❤️". Seriously fangirling at this point. So I reached out to the rest of our regional board and then with them agreeing that it would be a great event, I sent an email to the Lt. Governor's office. 

Now I'm waiting for a response, but I'm just proud at my professional growth to be brave enough to even reach out for something like this. The old me would have been afraid of rejection. Now I'm taking more risks because the worst that can happen is she says no and we'll be exactly where we are now.

Can we still host a virtual cooking class without Gisele Fetterman? Sure. Will it still be fun without her? Of course. So whether she can join us or not will not really change the event. However, if she can join us, her presence will be exciting for all our members who are currently working really hard to help students.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Today's Fiction Leads to Tomorrow's Reality

Screenshots of Christopher Gorham as Auggie in Covert Affairs on USA
Image screenshots from
Covert Affairs, USA Network
Think hard of things that didn't exist five, ten, even one year ago. My friend Ari posted an article, This startup wants to replace the white cane for blind people, on Linkedin that immediately reminded me of a show I enjoyed a few years ago. In the show, Covert Affairs, the character of Auggie was blinded while serving in the military and became a CIA operative. In the show, Auggie would walk around the CIA offices with a small laser device in this hand but would use a traditional walking stick when out in public.

While this example immediately came to mind from the article shared by Ari I thought back to a meme that was circulating a few years ago featuring Star Trek gadgets. Examples included the tricorder which can be compared to a modern smart phone, hand-held screens that can be compared to tablets, and more.

Image Source:
Emerging EdTech
Looking a little more student friendly, we can explore the Jetsons. Yes I know most of our students are too young to know the Jetsons (I feel old) but a short clip of the show can be used to inspire students. Perhaps George on a video call with his boss, or Rosie the sarcastic robot maid. The Jetsons also originated in the 1960s but displayed so many concepts that now exist. 

We are at an amazing time where if there's an idea, there's a way. This is why the concept of problem-based learning is so important for students. Give them a problem and tell them to solve it. Don't give them a pre-designed solution. Let them explore. Prototype. Fail. Try again.

It doesn't take long to find examples of amazing innovations being completed by students around the world. During an international science fair hosted by Google in 2019, the winning student projects were unbelievable.

  • Fionn Ferreira (Ireland) - Removing microplastics from water.
  • Celestine Wenardy (Indonesia) - Low-cost, non-invasive glucose meter
  • Tuan Dolmen (Turkey) - Harness energy from tree vibrations.

In a different competition from 2012, Jack Andraka, discovered a method to test for cancer that was less invasive and more affordable than traditional testing.

If your students have great ideas but you don't have a way to help them expand the ideas, reach out to your network. Use Twitter and Linkedin to find an expert in that field. Mentoring young minds is a rewarding adventure and many businesses will encourage this type of outreach. If it's something you want to keep in school but don't have the funds to help the students continue the project then help them learn about fundraising and grants. Talk to their parents about the possibility of crowd-sourcing. Obviously for safety reasons you don't want a student to create a Go Fund Me page, but their parent can. 

Another easy way to help them get started is to do digital prototyping. They might not be able to build and test their idea, but start with the design. Teach them about presentation skills and create 30-second commercials for their idea's potential investors. Many major companies have grants for educational institutions. I can't be positive since I've never been on the judging side of these grant applications but I would think that involving students in the application and demonstrating community buy-in can only help make your applications stand out among the rest.

Image Source: Picuki
Keep inspiring your students. Challenge them to try new things. Yes it might be scary, but encourage and support them.

To leave you with an inspirational quote, in 1962 John F. Kennedy made a decision to fund the space program and gave one of the most inspirational speeches of the generation. A speech which has been viewed, heard, and quoted for generations since. Most people only remember the line about because it's hard, not easy. However I think the entire speech is inspirational and powerful motivation for students that are trying to explore and create with a goal of bettering tomorrow.