Confessions of a Class Clown

Let me begin by apologizing to every teacher I’ve ever had from Mrs. Viviano at Holy Family Catholic Academy in Honolulu to Dr. Pringle at James Madison University in Virginia. I’m sure that in many ways I made your job harder, but I would also like to think that in other ways I brightened your days and made learning more fun. Yes, let’s go with that. I made learning more fun. And more difficult. But nothing worthwhile comes easy, right? Um, right??

OK, I said I was sorry. I really just couldn’t help myself from saying funny and disruptive things in school. I’m sure if I were 13 today, they’d consider medication. See, a funny thought pops into my head, and I say it before really thinking about the consequences. I spent a large part of high school standing in the hall, thinking about what I did.

It continues to this day. A few years ago, I was part of a sales team for a dot com that didn’t make a whole lot of, you know, sales. Our Senior VP, a big, burly athletic type, was yelling at us for our poor sales performance, and he did so using every sports metaphor in the book:

Guys, it’s halftime and we’re down by 14, he said. This team is losing! We haven’t won a big game ONE TIME!

Then his locker room pep talk took a threatening turn. He said, And when a team keeps losing what do they do? They start cutting players, don’t they? They. Start. Cutting. Players.

Before I knew I was saying them, the words were flying from my mouth and into our boss’s ears: Actually, what they usually do first is fire the coach.

Oh, how we laughed! Incidentally, I no longer work there. Now I work at K¹² as Director of Social Media, a job that combines my degree and background in information systems with my passion for mingling. It’s a great gig, with very smart, cool and fun people, and the excitement my colleagues have for creating engaging curricula is apparent in every meeting I attend. And in these meetings, when we’re reviewing some new creation from Product Development, the thing I often hear is, Man, I wish we had this when I was going to school.

Me, I kind of wish my classmates had the K¹² option. I think they’d have learned more without having to contend with my classroom shenanigans. What I’m trying to say is, I’m sorry. But the universe has a way of equalizing, and now, here I am working every day with professional educators, administrators and parents to create social environments where they can exchange knowledge and experience to make the online education process easier and more effective.

How am I going to do that? For starters, I’m going to do a whole lot more of what I should have been doing in school, namely, listening. Whether it’s via the various external social networking channels like Facebook, Twitter and message boards or via K¹²’s own community platforms like thebigthinK¹² and the blog comments, I will spend a part of every day sitting quietly at my desk, listening intently, absorbing what needs to be learned, passing it along to the people who need to know about it and NOT throwing spit wads.

Will there be humor? Of course! I hope that, where appropriate, we can all share some stories, make some videos, have a few laughs and make the free and open exchange of ideas as fun as possible. But yes, if I act up here in the blog, or on Facebook, or in a staff meeting, I fully expect to spend some time standing in the hall.

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