Thursday, May 24, 2012

MAC Wimba Week 4

Hello all, 

I can't believe this will be my last blog post for my MAC course. I will make it as meaningful as I can. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend Wimba last night due to a prior work commitment. Though seeing my charming cohort collaborating and laughing together, made me just that much more excited to finally meet them all at the end of next month for graduation! 

Joe, thank you for an exceptional Month 11. It was one of those courses that initially I had no idea what to expect and had no choice but to 'go with the flow'. This turned out to be an awesome course, and what better way to conclude it than celebrate the tremendous impact The Art of Possibility has made on each and every one us. This book was definitely a great motivation to keep pushing forward with the heart to pioneer and reform with all of the awesome, new emerging tools and trends we have acquired in the EMDT program. Especially, since we are applying these emerging tools and trends amidst a stagnant world and work environment that does not permit or welcome these changes.

I like how my cohort was able to collaboratively discuss their greatest takeaways from this book and submit text-based feedback on various topics. Since I was not able to attend, here are my responses. 

My favorite chapter and why: Chapter 7 --"The Way Things Are". The Downward Spiral Talk vs. Conversations for Possibility really came into play in my life this week. I was invited to attend a major Chicago startup career fair this Tuesday. Of the 15 startups that were going to be present, I had initially researched what positions they were mostly looking to hire. Most of the positions were software development, sales, and marketing. My experience is mostly design. I was this close to talking myself into not going, because I felt I had nothing valuable I could offer. However, I embraced the silver lining, told myself 'Shrav...You're brilliant. You're charming. You're an invaluable asset'. Hence, I printed out multiple copies of my resume, got my business cards ready, put my suit on, and went to the fair. I'm sure glad I did. I made a lot of great new contacts, simply by networking and having a casual conversation. I had a great desire to learn as much about these startups as I could, and I impressed a few recruiters. Thanks to this chapter, I will ALWAYS avoid the downward spiral, that excludes POSSIBILITY, and embrace OPPORTUNITIES with conversations for possibility. 

What things I am going to take from the reading and use in my teaching and my life: The most amazing thing I will take away from this reading is 1) not take myself so darn seriously all the time and 2) not get so hung up on accomplishing multiple life goals and objectives. This was a great wake-up call that I absolutely needed to start simplifying my life again and enjoy all that life had to offer. Life truly can be like a beach chair, if we allow it to be. Sure, the rest of the world will not stop competing amongst one another and outdoing each other, but I refuse to burn out over time in the same fashion others will. My life is about MY journey, not the same traditional journey to get to the same idealized destination in society that everyone else strives for.

You know, I would not have been able to reflect so deeply on these questions, if it were not for the Jonathan Coulton songs that Joe always plays during Wimba. These songs makes Wimbas much more pleasurable and entertaining. I especially loved the song about Coulton's love for his laptop. 

Lastly, it was VERY nice to be reminded that the reflection page on our AR site must be completed before month 12 begins, and that our final presentation page on our AR site must be completed during month 12. Thanks for the reminder,  Joe, and thank you, Golda, for asking that very crucial question!

Thank you for reading, and see you all in Month 12! Only 35 more days, 850 hours, and 51,053 minutes til graduation...woot! 


Comments for Golda's Wk4 Reading Blog Post

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May 24, 2012 @ 14:35:46
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Hello Golda, this is an excellent blog post and parallel to the WE story. Thank you for sharing your deep affection for the bond you have with your spouse. So often in life, people are searching to find someone to “complete” them. Yet that’s a total mistake, as we should rather connect with those that “complement” us. The easy-flowing communication, trust, and admiration you and your spouse have for each other is very inspiring and something a great deal of people in this world never get blessed to find in this lifetime. Wishing you many more years of happiness and success.

>> In Response To

wk4 reading: Art of Possibility – The WE Story

marriageTelling the WE story has me reflecting on my marriage. We have been together for 15+ years. Part of our success is the ability to communicate. We talk about everything including small talk. Topics will vary and sometimes we will argue. Even though we may argue about things, we tend to in the end come up with the possibility of agreeing to disagree. It is because of this philosophy, we find that we cannot stay angry at one another. Agreeing to disagree allows for mutual respect. It is this mutual respect that gives us our inner strength within our relationship. Another thing that made us stronger is that we were friends first and later to become best friends. Best friends do everything together and support one another in their endeavors. I truly believe that I would not have reached my goal of obtaining a second Masters degree if we did not go through it together. It was the support network that we had that enabled me to achieve this goal. Now we will go through the process of working toward me gaining employment once my goal of this degree is obtained.


Comments for Duwaine's Wk4 Reading Blog Post

>> My Comment 

Great post, Duwaine. I remember being impressed by this passage also. The conductor wasn't just committed to lighting a spark, but changing perceptions. He did it wisely also, by involving the students to take the lead and get exposed personally to this foreign music. Just comes to show that music is for life and has the power to transcend all barriers between our fellow brothers and sisters.

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WK 4 Lighting a Spark

This week’s reading was special to me. Lighting a Spark was great chapter. The Eastlea School is located in the slums of London. No one expects them to do well including the students. In comes a conductor who wants to expose the students to classical music. Classical music? The students won’t listen to this. They won’t be able to sit still. So many negatives were brought up by those about to receive something special. The orchestra came. The media came. Did they come to catch a special performance or to validate the stereotype of the Eastlea School? The first performance went off well, but not entirely smooth. The conductor of the orchestra didn’t let the stereotypes stop him. He humanized the entire situation by writing a letter to the students telling them thank you and then giving them goals to achieve for the main event. Everyone was amazed by the behavior and even enjoyed on of the students, Anthony, as he was allowed to conduct a portion of the concert. What made all of this possible was that one person challenged themselves to light a spark where it was greatly needed taking the chance that the entire scenario could blow up in his very own face. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wk4 Leadership Blog Post: Leadership Role Model Reflection

Currently 24 years old, you may find it surprising that I've yet to gone a month in my life without eating my favorite food in the world: pizza. I've even yet to gone as even a week without eating the richly satisfying, cheesy, gooey and tarty sauce layered italian sensation assuming the hot equivalent of a bagel with cream cheese and tomato. I once used to say to myself that I'd strive to be the head CEO of every pizza consumer in the universe if one honor were to exist. Personally, however, the single most pizza organization who's leadership I admire and would like to emulate in my leadership style is Papa John's. Back in 2009, Papa John's surpassed $1 million in Mobile Web Orders, and other convenient high-tech resources, making it the world's third largest pizza company and ranked first among pizza companies in the 2008 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. Similarly enough, Papa John's mission evidently is to create a superior brand loyalty, i.e. "raving fans" through authentic, superior-quality products, legendary customer service, and exceptional community service. It's Universal Value Proposition (UVP) goes hand-in-hand with it's motto: "Better Ingredients. Better Pizza". Papa John's zestfully dominates the pizza industry in its ability to creatively revolutionize technology and connect with its consumers in an innovative way while sustaining the traditional key marketing principle of listening to its audience. 
It was Bolivar Jose Bueno, one of the brightest minds in integrated marketing who said in his early twenties that, "companies that listen to the customer--with a creative experience that is driven by the customer--end up creating very powerful brands." Whether or not I was granted a CEO position of pizza consumers, or even labeled the biggest fan in the history of man, every customer equally has a prominent role with company employees in delivering its remarkable success. According to author Tamara L. Gillis in 
The IABC Handbook of Organizational Communication, "Humans crave security. Next are love and belonging, and followed by esteem needs. The peak of the pyramid is self-actualization, which happens when a person attains a level where he or she seeks to become self-fulfilled. in other words, he or she has a purpose of being." The main innovations that makes Papa John's a household name and gives people a purpose of being is its newly adapted service of ordering food via text-messaging, on top of its text notices of discounts and event highlights, and Papa John's Facebook Fans of the Week section on the company's Facebook page. This integrated marketing communication campaign empowers and utilizes technology and mankind to publicize their famous pizza. 

Text-messaging orders are brilliant, intuitive, and meets our hectic schedules to still enjoy, or in my case engross, in one of America's pasttime, Pizza. As far as 
Papa John's Facebook Fans of the Week, we see first hand, through digital photographs that fans send in, the beloved admiration and passion consumers have toward the product. Winners are shown in pictures with ecstatic poses with Papa John's pizza delivery guys to their baby reclined with Papa John's paper plates. 

This campaign innovation is not only creative, but brings an advocate of the consumer inside. To stress how productive this strategic leadership style is and note that Papa John's do indeed live up to its superior brand loyalty mission, Papa John's creates a magnificent impression by tapping every succinct brand interaction audio-visually, emotionally, and culturally. We see marketing messages through these winning pictures that features faces that look like ours when we eat Papa John's pizza. We feel strong emotions of pride and happiness, maybe even hunger and jealousy with Papa John's in mind, as we connect with these winning pictures. We even come to terms that we as an American culture cannot live without Papa John's. In the same sense, I want my participants in my Capacity of Music for Change workshop to emphatically connect with music for their vehicle of change to the point where they can't live without spreading their voice to uplift their communities. To impact the audiences of the music we will create, I will stress to my participants to listen to the emotions and strifes of everyone in the room as we collaboratively write and record empowering lyrics for spreading social change awareness. 

Thank you for reading. 


Wk4 Blog Post - The Art of Possibility ch. 9-12

Good evening fellow EMDT cohort and staff,

First and foremost, I'd like to congratulate each and every one of you all that shared your Leadership Document drafts during Wimba on Tuesday night and Wednesday night. I thought you all did a fantastic job, and I am super stoked of the great possibilities in hearing several success stories down the road!

Now onto this week's Art of Possibility blog post. Chapter's 9-12 were simply incredible. I'm going to chime in on a particular passage that I felt was truly profound and was just the type of motivation I needed to hear should I get selected to present my Leadership Project at The Illinois Education and Technology Conference.

Zander is by far the most resilient, confident, gregarious, and focused human being that I have ever in my entire life come to discover. Flying out from Boston to Washington at 8am, JUST for an UNEXPECTED 20 minute meeting to entice the LEGENDARY Rostropovich to play in his orchestra, and fly back to Boston at 12pm with successfully getting the guy to agree??? The man truly knows how to enroll others and light a spark. If that were me, I'd be too busy preparing myself on that flight on how to come across to him. However, I shouldn't need to allow my fear and nerves to beat myself over -- Our universe is ALIVE with sparks and the capacity to make the impossible, possible, so long as we bare passion! First, I wholeheartedly agree with Ben Zander's dad, Walter Zander, that "certain things in life are better done in person". My cohort and I are enormously lucky and grateful to have the opportunity of a lifetime to engage our passions and action research with a receptive audience of likeminded visionaries. To enroll them into adopting our passion, we need to approach them with the confidence that they are willing to get swept off their feet and inspired. We need to speak with the premise of that which would make US be swept away with inspiration. We need to have NO doubt whatsoever that others will love our pioneering ideas. Only then, can we reap the given benefits that were already promised to us from the get-go. Showing up is half the work, if you have the passion for success and change.

Here's an inspirational story I'd like to share. Last night, I was watching Conan O'Brien's talk show Conan and we were all pleasantly delighted to engage in a comedic standup routine by up-and-coming comedian, Brody Stevens. It was clear in my eyes that he hadn't had too much experience performing before a huge publicized live audience. However, the man did exceptionally well simply by periodically saying out loud "Yes! Positive ENERGY!". It was an addicting mantra that helped him remain on top of his game. In one of his bits, Brody said that he wanted to get laid -- fair enough. However, he said he'd have a BETTER chance of getting laid after making people laugh through his live standup routine, rather than call up his lady friends via telephone.

Check out his debut on Conan

...YES! POSITIVE ENERGY! Can you guys harbor the same outlook and desire to create a spark in your Leadership Project presentations or papers? A "no" from your audience can seem like a door slamming in your face, especially when you tell yourself that your audience is not engaged. However, even when the audience was not laughing at each and every one his jokes, Brody still told himself out loud, "yes" and kept ENROLLING us into HIS passion. Don't throw in the towel while you're in the heat of selling OPPORTUNITIES and POSSIBILITIES, just hold on to it until you make a cruise ship towel animal!!! 

Thank you for reading my loyal subscribers. See you all in Month 12. 


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Comments for Katherine's Wk3 Reading Blog Post

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  1. Wow, Katherine. This was an exceptionally inspiring and heartfelt read. Very relatable even. First, I want to commend you on being the silent leader that you are. I still distinctly recall a few of your past assignments, such as your Angry Birds interactive flash assignment, making me powerful and more motivated to contribute my best. I honestly would have never guessed that your life was any less than content -- though, we are all human and are struggle with the same challenges. I was once told that our greatest purposes derive from our greatest pain. The questions you raised about your school's administration is valid and fair. I personally do not have the answers, but your outlook to focus on your passion to teach without resistance. What you said about perpetually falling back into a deep hole with the state of mind that things will always remain gloomy, is spot on. Though, I must say, Katherine, you are incredibly talented with several leadership aspects to NOT cling onto the silver lining. Excellent Wk3 Blog Post.

    Your classmate and friend,


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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Week 3 Reading: The Art of Possibility 5 - 8

These chapters spoke to me deeply. The matter at hand made me reflect so far into me that I was afraid I would not return. What I found was a mountain of memories that made me who I am today.

I love how the conductor/musician analogy to the hierarchies of life. Too often I find that the leaders teachers hope to empower are not being taught (mainly through example) of what a true leader is. Leaders have power. Someone who can accumulate power often demonstrates leadership qualities. But this does not mean that person is a true leader. The line "true power derives from [the] ability to make other people powerful", is what makes a true leader. Leaders exemplify this day in and day out unconsciously, naturally. The next question would be: How do we teach something that is done unconsciously and a natural part of our everyday behavior? The answer, be aware of who you are. Recognize your failings, and curb them to benefit others. Recognize your talents and share them with the world when called upon to use them. As the one musician stated so wonderfully, "I haven't had a single dull moment in a rehearsal, as I sit wondering what I would say to the orchestra should I suddenly be called upon to lead." Can we say the same about our lives? Have I had not a single dull moment in my life, as I sit wondering what I would say to my audience should I suddenly be called upon to lead? The silent conductor; one that leads by being able to follow.

For chapter 6, all I could think about was the movie Singing in the Rain with Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O'Connor. One scene Donald O'Connor's character is trying uplift the spirits of his best friend Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly). He performs a song and dance routine to the melody of Cole Porter's Be A Clown, memorably renaming it to Make 'Em Laugh. I saw the movie before I could go to school and noticed my mother laughing and having a good time watching that particular scene. At that moment, I wanted to be able to make people laugh and appreciate a good time while in my presence. To this day, that mentality is part of my everyday nature.

Here is the scene and have the best ____ ever!

So what could I say about chapters 7 and 8? After reading through the chapters, I looked back at the study questions by Diane Wright and think: so true, so true. The chapters were so intertwined that I couldn't do my usual read/reflect then write. So here I am breaking my OCD of organization to fit the needs of my reflections.

Quite a few of my close friends can see my pessimistic side and know that part of me very well. I don't often show it because that is not the kind of person that I want everyone to see my as. I want to exemplify the good, and unfortunately too often I bottle up the bad rather than use it to my advantage. Just to let you in on some of my personal battles within myself, I often give way to frustration and disappointment to the point where no passion, no drive, and no ambitions are the only ways to think. And, I settle upon that mentality because of the hurt that happens too much. Just like June back in chapter 6, I begin to feel as though the world in not going to change. No matter my efforts, no matter my drive and enthusiasm, the people in this world are so stuck in their holes not to see the enormous amount of possibilities and potential available to them - possibilities that could even better their state of life. Just yesterday, a few of the teachers and I were venting about how we have administrators that seem to give up on us. They don't seem to care about the well being of all the teachers. There are definite favorites and the school could be so much more if things were different. We know type of behavior happens everywhere and many of us are short-tempered at the closing of another year. But what more can we do to help make a change? Our solution, for now, is to settle. We know we can't change administration, so what change can make in ourselves and our thought process? How can we do what is needed even without the support necessary for success?

I know it seems harsh and without warmth, but when challenged with these questions, I remember the words of a good friend of mine. She said, "Pick up the broken pieces of your shattered life and move on." The way I move on, is to focus on what makes life worth living for me, and that is teaching. I love to teach. And upon being hired as a teacher I was posed the question: we have two openings for which you qualify. Which do you prefer? My response: it doesn't matter what I teach so long as I have the opportunity to teach.

Comments for Kim's Wk3 Reading Blog Post

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  1. Kim,

    Excellent parallel between orchestra conducting and classroom teaching. I distinctly recall those passages from this week's reading as well, as it was a pure stroke of genius on the Zanders's part to allow his musicians to not only perfect Zander's craft, yet expand their own individual opportunities for success. I was even taken aback in intrigue when Zander admitted an error on his behalf. Similarly, the flipped classroom is a genuine model to inspire greatness, synthesis of content, and application of mastery in our students. Kudos for being an empowering educator and leader by dedicating your success by your students' success, and thank you for sharing your fantastic insights on this week's readings.


>> In Response To


Week 3 reading post: Art of Possibility chapters 5 to 9

Image from Clipart Mojo
I was very happy to find that Benjamin Zander revisits his notion of the “silent conductor” in the earlier part of this reading. (I say revisits because we were first exposed to this idea during his TED Talk on music and passion.) During the TED Talk, I was struck by his comment that a powerful conductor is one who can inspire greatness in his musicians; that the conductor’s success is not so much measure by what he does, but by what others do under his leadership. This idea extends easily to the profession of teaching. The most successful teacher is the one who inspires the greatest work from his students. And, I see the connection between conducting and teaching even more prominently, in fact, in my action research project that focuses on the flipped classroom. The overarching goal of flipping is to make the classroom more student-centered than teacher-centered. Zander describes how implementing small changes like allowing the orchestra members to contribute their insights to his musical interpretations made them feel empowered and valued. In the same way, I hope that flipping my classroom will enable me to work with and hear from more of my students, so that they see the material as more approachable and relatable than they might otherwise feel in a lecture-based class.

Zander, R. S., & Zander, B. (2000). The art of possibility [Electronic]. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.