Remembering who I am

Remembering who I am

I am not an avatar nor am I an id
I am not my twitter nor my SL identity
I am not my diigo and wikis aren't me
I'm a mom and a teacher in all simplicity.

Tis easy to get caught up in “being something” more
when what I am to be is often the two feet on my floor.
No one else can hug my kids nor wipe a wet tear
love the unlovely or calm the raw fear.

The pressure from “somewhere” to be some kind of star
is deceiving and distracting from helping us be who we are.
Balance, perspective, focus, and time offline
will become successful habits of the overachieving mind.

Reject the invisible hand that pushes you to stress
think what you want and how time should be spent best.
Choose your life's course, don't just flow with the stream,
you can be more…but it should fit with your dream.

Words from my heart
I love my true friends through the Internet. The amazing teachers and “real people” out there who are just the “salt of the earth” as we say in the south.

So many amazing people who are just wonderful and thrill me with their presence. I enjoyed unplugging last week during spring break so very much. I was literally offline and disconnected for 6 days! I really was able to spend time with my family and think.

When I returned and looked at my inbox, I saw it through a fresh lens. I am 37 years old and at this stage in my life, I already gave up one career to be a stay at home mom. My focus has to stay my family or I'll give everything up again!

This is what I saw:

  • A ton of Diigo invites and friends — not a lot of “stuff” and pretty easy to handle, but still it was there.

    The effort of setting up a “new” network. Someone needs to handle this friend thing or there is going to be an inherent obstacle in starting something new. Now, I weigh heavily my decision to join anything. A lot of us do. This just reinforces that and although I believe Diigo is definitely a place to join, I will continue to think twice about where I join and what I recommend that others join as well!

  • About 10 emails from people I've never met, that have never commented on my blog and as far as I know don't participate in our educational communities ASKING to be a guest blogger on my blog.

    At this point, I have had one guest blogger. I share everywhere and I'm glad Louise made such an amazing post, however, I really feel like the one place online that is truly ME is this blog. This is me and who I am as best as I will share publicly, I guess.

    Having a blog that is gaining readership is exciting, but I still think that 1 comment is probably worth more to me than a lot of readers that might just have added me to their RSS in some workshop but never take a glance.

    I'm inspired by Dale Carnegie and remember sitting in my bathtub as a 6th grader reading his book How to Win friends and Influence People and not being able to put it down. Across the years he spoke to me and helped me.

    If I cannot help people, I don't want to blog. And when I hear from readers… the real people it means something. If I hear from people who are genuinely interested in education and me as a person, that is great too. If they want to tell their story, I love that.

    However, if I'm just someone that they want to use to accomplish their own thing and don't care a rip about me or my readers… just our pocketbooks… get lost.

    It is about authenticity and caring about real people.

  • Some comment spam – I had a few people who had good comments and several who just commented and had a link to their own work. The comments were like “nice blog, see what I'm doing here.” Again, poor netiquette and comment spam.

    I can tell everyone from personal experience that this blog has been built upon my own commenting in other places and not just stingy posting here. Haven't had time to comment or read much lately, but I'll be doing that again soon!

  • Some cool messages and stories. I love those. I'll never forget the message someone e-mailed me from a coffee shop in Virginia about how a post had gotten to her at just the right time. She was discouraged and the post had her crying in her coffee with joy. Wow! To be a part of something like that means a lot to me. Those stories keep me blogging when I get discouraged.
  • Requests for appearances, workshops, etc. This is where I feel somewhat of a double edged sword. I'm booked through December of this year and that is fine with me. I'm very excited about the fact that Julie and I are working out the final details to offer a TWO DAY intensive Flat Classroom Workshop in July in St. Louis. We'll share more later.

    I want to help people and do things and meet people, but I'm only going to take three appearances a semester. I just have to do that. I want to be here for my family and my students and have done the travel thing. I don't want to go on the “rubber chicken eater” circuit (as Doug Johnson calls it.) I want to stay home with my children and run around on the farm. So, although many ask me when am I going to quit teaching… I can tell you… it ISN'T happening any time soon.

    I am contemplating the types of work that I will do when I do something… when I get out, I personally want it to be with the people who have the vision to do something with what I'm sharing. I think that more teachers are going to have such opportunities and it is important to be choosy or else you will just feel very, very burnt out.

  • A few freelance articles — This is what I love to do… write! Writing, web appearances and a few in person things… that is fine with me. I dream of having my book on the rack in my books a million and on having an article that helps people understand technology in Woman's Day. Silly dreams, but it could happen.

So, you ask, why do you even share this stuff?

Well, I share it because there are some other teachers out there who may be struggling with being “sucked into the vortex.” This vortex of educational change is like a wild stallion… you can jump on his back, but if you're not careful, he'll control your destiny and you'll not master your own.

There has got to be some common sense with all of this. (and lots of prayer) Everyone having instant access to everyone else is sometimes NOT a good thing, particularly when some of the people want to use you.

If you are just starting or really becoming “known” in educational circles, I just want to encourage you to learn from what I'm experiencing:

  1. Know your friends. They are often the people who talked to you and others when you were “nobody” and just starting out. Do they talk to beginners?… if not, watch out.

    If you're starting out, see how the “established” people treat you. If they treat you with respect, they're worth following.

  2. Filter Spam ruthlessly – Spam might be e-mails. It might be people who IM you constantly. It might be wasteful twitter accounts.

    If it is email and you use folders, filter that person or account if you really have to read it to one place so that you will not be distracted. If it is facebook or some other place, replace the e-mail with RSS. Take time to look at every e-mail and apply filtration rules. Can the spam and take back your life.

  3. Filter focus ruthlessly. I follow the time honored strategy of having a top 10 – to do list daily. I have a master list with the rest of the items, but this gives me focus. And yes, blogging was on my list today!

    I find that I have to take a hard look at the places that “suck me in” and won't let me go. And, when I go there (like twitter), I use a handy timer widget on my desktop that I downloaded from Google Desktop.

    I also made a folder in Google Reader called @HOTLIST (the @ puts the folder at the top of the list — some people just name this Aardvark but that is a little silly.) This includes my 10 must reads of the day. This too is a secret, but I'll tell you that I often focus on those people who I know and work with pretty frequently as well as a few other sources who are dissenting or different viewpoints.

  4. Invest your time in things that save you time. I've been having a little trouble with airset, so I set it to synch to Outlook. I set outlook to synch with Google Cal and then started using an amazing site called Time Bridge to schedule my appointments. It lets me invite people to a meeting and give 5 times that work. People RSVP and it sets the appointment AND puts it on my calendar for the best time. Then, it reminds everyone automatically. Isn't that amazing?

    I also love using the diigo auto blog posting feature and replaced the delicious posting with this one which allows me more characters and thoughts for each bookmark as well as tagging and annotation. I'm not sure what I think about it yet and may set it to not post daily. Still thinking on this one. I don't know if I like the autoposting of the links. Before, I just spliced delicious into my feed only, and now my blog looks a little “linky” — I wish I could customize the blog post from diigo a little more.

    I also love that I can twitter and access the standard tags for the Horizon projects from within diigo. All of these things make it a HUGE time saver for me.

  5. I have also used twitterfeed to post the things I KNOW I will post anyway. It just saves me time. This includes, the Wow2 show, Wow2 links and my blog posts. That is it. I've seen some use it to excess which means I unfollow their twitter in a heartbeat!
  6. A good old dose of common sense – When I feel like all of this “stuff” is stressing me out, I listen to myself. That is when I send myself offline. My mile wide rebellious streak kicks in and I take an little vacation from it all. This is why I refuse to get a blackberry. Online is PART of my life it is not my ENTIRE life! It will have its place and its limit or it will be gone. Period.

In this period of overchoice, we must learn how to make choices that make our lives better and help us further our dreams and mission in life.

It is OK to disconnect. It is important to remember that popularity comes and goes and not to get hung up on it. Be who you ARE not who you THINK people want you to be.

I guess it always bothers me when I see someone twitter

“I'm reconnecting with my long lost cousin”


“I'm seeing my grandad for the first time in a month.”

It niggles at my mind that perhaps their fingers should be off the cell phone and their eyes and hearts should be connecting with those they love.

Like the mother I saw a couple of weeks trying to fly a kite when her son while talking on a cell phone… we still need the humans in our lives. We need to do a better job of focusing on the things in front of our noses.

If us tech-heads cannot achieve balance, people won't want what we have.

Master time lest it master you.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Wendy April 9, 2008 - 6:40 pm

Thank you thank you thank you thank you… this is exactly what I needed to read today – you never cease to amaze me. This blog almost made me cry because of how well it fit how I am feeling this week. I appreciate beyond words the wisdom you share!

georgygrrl April 9, 2008 - 6:57 pm

Wow. I have a tear in my eye. Lately, since finding twitter, I have felt sucked into the vortex. It’s not that it is twitter, per se, but the links, the people, the information that I am sure I will never happen upon again, etc. etc.
Thanks for speaking to ME. I needed it.

loonyhiker April 9, 2008 - 7:02 pm

I love to read your blog and things that you say. I haven’t mentioned that I have linked to your blog before because I was afraid that it was poor etiquette to refer to my blog in the comments of your blog. But I don’t know the best way to let the originator of a post know that I linked to them. I want people to know that what they said had great value to me. Do you have any suggestions?

Andrea Hernandez April 9, 2008 - 7:02 pm

another excellent and timely (at least for me) post from you, Vicki. What amazes me is that you are able to do so much, be so many places (at least virtually), and yet stay grounded and balanced (and you are only 37)! I really appreciate all that you share on your blog. There are probably many readers like me who don’t comment much (too rushed for time) but get a LOT out of your posts.

mhobkirk April 9, 2008 - 7:44 pm

Thanks Vicki for sharing these thoughts. I still consider myself the new kid on the block, as far as Web 2.0 goes. I’ve started a blog, but it is difficult to find the time to write.

I find myself reading blogs, such as yours, from people who post most everyday. I see all of the updates on Twitter too. I often think to myself “wow, how do these people have time to do all of these things?”

I think you answered that question in your post today.

S. Nobles April 9, 2008 - 7:45 pm

Thank you for this post. It might be the first blog post I have read all the way through [not talking about yours :)] in a long time because I am always fighting time. Now I know it is not just deficient me.

Kiwanji April 9, 2008 - 7:46 pm

Your post convinced me to finally leave a comment after lurking for a while now. Very insightful and timely for so many people. I was reading David Warlick’s blog the other day about aggregators and how they might be a great tool but they might also turn people off if not used correctly. I’ve got over 1,000 unread messages in my google reader right now and I’ve got to get rid of some of those feeds. I liked your idea for a folder of must reads, mine is named “Personal.” I have the education ones and news ones, even the funny ones, but the messages I look to first are in that folder.

Great minds think alike. :)

And no, I don’t think I will ever be able to stand twitter. I have too much to think about already, I don’t need to know when someone is going to the airport or having dinner. Although, on the other hand, David Warlick did have a good post today about how he got word of an online presentation through twitter that he otherwise would not have been able to view. There might actually be something to it. ARGH, too many tools to think about.

doug0077 April 9, 2008 - 8:27 pm

Hi Vicki,

Stay sane, stay humble, stay committed to your day job and family. Practice giving one thing up for every new thing you add (esp web tools!). Read or re-read Karen Scheinder

And keep posting for your friends and fans!


Christine April 9, 2008 - 9:58 pm

Oh gosh, your post is so timely. The pressure to keep up with the “Jones'” is often overwhelming. While I love what technology has to offer us, I also love to see that those folks I respect struggle with some of the same issues I do and are choosing to do what is best for them and their family. I know that ultimately I need to be content with who I am and what I can bring to the teachers and students in my school without sacrifice to those people most important in my life. Thanks for the reminder. I need it about once a week these days.

Anonymous April 9, 2008 - 10:18 pm

I think that people just need to remember who everyone is that its not always the people you want them to be.

KMulford April 9, 2008 - 10:18 pm

Thanks, Vicki, for today’s post. I have three entries ready for my first blog, but just haven’t crossed that bridge yet. Something is holding me back. Yes, I know that in our ed-tech world, it is important to have a web presence, particularly if you are a presenter and especially if you intend to influence school districts to allow students to develop web presences. Yet I, like so many others who commented before me, get pulled into Twitter and Diigo and countless other of the “latest and greatest” tools that appear every day. Thank you so much for the portion of this post that was addressed to those of us just starting out. Tonight’s game of catch outside with my 8-year-old really WAS more satisfying than adding 20 more bookmarks to Diigo, based on the recommendations of my modest group of Twitter friends.

Anonymous April 9, 2008 - 10:19 pm

I think that people just need to get along with each other and help each other out.

IMC Guy April 9, 2008 - 7:01 pm

This really hit home with me. So many times, I’ve jumped at the hot new Web 2.0 thing to learn more about it – Classroom 2.0, Library 2.0, Twitter, delicious, etc. Too often, I’ve jumped in without thinking about why I’m joining and what I want to get out of it.

Also, I really liked what you said about popularity. Sometimes, I see people with many comments on their blog and I may have only a couple. In some ways, I’m jealous, but what I should be thinking is about the few who are there, not the many who aren’t.

Disconnecting is something I need to do more of. Did I really need to follow Twitter on my iPhone while I was at Disney with my family over Spring Break? I think I’m getting too sucked in. Thanks for sending the life jacket!

Vicki A. Davis April 9, 2008 - 7:23 pm

@wendy @georgygrrl – Thank you for another one of the comments that really mean something. I’ve been struggling so much with feeling overwhelmed that I had to force myself to blog. Thanks for telling me it was the right thing and right time to share it. It comforts me to know that many feel like me and I’m not the only one struggling with this innundation!

@imc guy — Yes, can the cell phone at Disney and be with the kids. There are times to say “who cares, it will be there when I come back.” And as for the popularity thing, it is an illusion. I feel exactly the same as I did with 7 readers, I just have more friends now but I also have more fake friends who want to use me. I kind of look back at my first year of blogging as a golden time and wonder why I wasted it wondering about popularity kind of stuff that ebbs and flows. I’m here for the long haul.

Vicki A. Davis April 9, 2008 - 7:24 pm

@loonyhiker — ALWAYS link back to a post within your blog — then, when you do, and if you ping technorati (read my post 10 habits of bloggers than win) — I’ll see what you wrote! You are REAL and authentic and NOT a spammer! You are welcome to pop links into my comments any time.

Links from authentic sources are a compliment any way they come… in comments, websites, blogs… anywhere.

Links from uninvolved get rich quick time wasters are the problem, not you!

Vicki A. Davis April 9, 2008 - 7:26 pm

@andrea– Thanks for saying hi! I too don’t comment as much as I wish but use it to encourage others as it is needed and your comment came at just the right time!

And sometimes, it looks like I’m more places than I am because I’m a total RSS nut and use it wisely. I’m very protective over my personal, private time, though and keeping time with the kids is so important to me!

Thank YOU for taking time to comment!

Sue Waters April 9, 2008 - 11:35 pm

Vicki – I’ve always been inspired by your work and support you give others. What I admire the most about you is the fact that you have continue to connect, when you have time (which I totally understand), to others to provide that what support and encouragement you can. Keep up your excellent work :)

Witty April 9, 2008 - 7:47 pm

I really enjoyed reading this post. You have captured my current sentiments exactly! I am new to the web 2.0/edtech game and I feel a lot of pressure to be informed and aware of everything that is out there. I seem to be losing myself in my research. I am struggling so hard to filter through all the information that it is difficult to find the real value in some of these technologies. I don’t want to use the technology for the sake of using the technology. Your post puts things in perspective. Thanks.

Vicki A. Davis April 9, 2008 - 7:51 pm

@snobles – Many of us are scanning… sometimes we all need to go deeper. Thank you for the compliment.

@kiwanji – Twitter is GREAT for connecting and finding out the news and cool stuff. I find a lot of my links there and use it to test new software.

@witty — Keep perspective in light of your goals. It is kind of a bit like when the INternet first emerged, isn’t it?

Amy Strecker April 9, 2008 - 8:32 pm

Time bridge — can’t wait to use it. Thanks!

johndobbs April 9, 2008 - 8:40 pm

Excellent post that a friend (who is an educator) pointed out to me. I especially like the point about not having a blackberry… I’ve been thinking about getting one … but there needs to be time away from networking (geeks all over america just fainted). Anyway… Thanks!

Louise Maine April 10, 2008 - 1:39 am


You are very wise and as I have said before, a very authentic talented person. I am very grateful for the time you spend cultivating and encouraging new voices (and working with me as well).

You are right. We do not need to keep up with anyone. It can all be an illusion. We need to remember why we are here and what we are trying to accomplish. Egos and popularity are fleeting.

Again very timely post! I have checked into twitter all of about 5 minutes in the last week (blocked at school and we are not to have cell phones out). I don’t want to spend my family time on one more device. I just started diigo (but mostly because I never really liked delicious). Still don’t have all my bookmarks in yet. Maybe some day.

Only keep pace with yourself and remember why we started the journey in this direction in the first place.

I do want to be like you when I grow up! I would like to be a better writer!

MaryAnn Sansonetti April 9, 2008 - 10:16 pm

Thank you for sharing. Its good to know that people out there are thinking similarly. The advice you give it wise and to hear you say its ok to disconnect… Sometimes in this “connected” world disconnecting is hard because there are so many that don’t and what if you miss some vital information??? Well, I have learned that even if you missed it the information will be somewhere! Again thank you for saying what so many are thinking.

Kim T April 10, 2008 - 2:40 am

Vicki – I love your poem. It hits home with me.. a mom of 3 kids, a wife to my husband and a self proclaimed over achiever! I am also a middle school technology educator who recently began a grad class with Jeff Utecht all about web 2.0 tools in the classroom. I have to admit I am a little overwhelmed with the information that is out there and I am also impressed by you and your mission. I love the idea of the flat classroom project and the horizon 2008 project. I aspire to do this in my school and with my students. I want to give my students the chance to do something great. You are wonderful and inspirational as a mom, teacher and blogger. I enjoy what you have to say and I look forward to reading more! Twitter has really been a wonderful tool for me as far as resources go, and I really enjoy learning new things. What I enjoy most, is sharing things I know and trying to help them. It is all about collaboration. Thank you again for all you do! I know, I am doing too much these days and it is not easy.

Charlie A. Roy April 10, 2008 - 3:39 am

Heard an interesting related story today. A man stuck in the corporate life was spending 70-80 hours a week at work. He came home and was generally unavailable to his family.

One day his five year old son asked him how much he made an hour. He was agitated and angrily said $40 an hour and you kids should appreciate that. He then asked his dad for $10 and his father irritated sent him to his room.

About an hour later he went to apologize to his son and brought the $10 with him. He apologized and his smiling little boy took the $10 gleefully and pulled out from under his bed a plastic bag full of dollars and coins. He said, “I finally have $40. Dad, can you spend an hour playing with me?”

loonyhiker April 10, 2008 - 2:04 pm

Thanks for your advice and comments! They helped! Forgot to mention that I really loved your poem too!

@jgrmsmith April 10, 2008 - 2:57 pm

Thanks Vicki, the post was great. I’m an Instructional Technology Specialist in Texas and wanted to create a resource for my teachers, so I started a blog that would give them tips on different’ ways to use it as well as tools to use in the classroom. As my interest for blogging grew I have been lucky enough to run across bloggers like yourself that truly do it for the people. I also joined twitter to help with collaboration with my fellow ITS here in my district. I quickly found what a great resource it can be. For one, I ran across you again. ;-) How lucky am I!?
It is posts, like this one of yours, that helps us Newbies keep everything in perspective as well as teach us good etiquette in our PLNs as we build them. We must remember why we do what we do!

nhill April 12, 2008 - 1:44 am

Thanks again Vicki. I love reading your blog because you do speak from the heart. I feel like we hear your voice and your heart. Thanks so much for being you.

Sarah Stewart April 12, 2008 - 2:25 am

A timely reminder, thanks for that, Viki.

Kimberly April 12, 2008 - 7:18 pm

I really appreciated the advice you gave in this post. I think you’ve highlighted the human side of educational technology.

One thing though . . . I do think that you could be a little more understanding of someone who twitters about “reconnecting with a long lost cousin” or “visiting their grandad for the first time in a month.” I grew up in Maryland and besides my parents and siblings, all of my relatives (granparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, second cousins once-removed, and all) lived west of the Rocky mountains, some even as far away as Los Angeles. The reality is that for some us, the cell phone and the computer are how our eyes and our hearts connect with our loved ones, thousands of miles away. Just a thought.

Vicki A. Davis April 12, 2008 - 7:47 pm

@Kimberly — I’m saying that when you are face to face with a person, unless there is a real reason (like your family is in your twitter) to twitter it put the cell phone down and spend time with them.

I see way too many parents somewhere else and not with their own children as in the example of the child flying the kite while the mom talked mindlessly on the phone about how she didn’t like to fly kites. Just give people the PRESENT of your PRESENCE. Be fully THERE.

If it has a purpose, go ahead and twitter it, but if it is putting twitter ahead of someone you haven’t seen in forever, turn off the phone and be with them!

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere
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