BAP080 Bravery with Michelle Van Balkom

We  can learn so much from professionals taking risks with technology, even when the technology fails.

Michelle Van Balkom is my guest on this episode. You can listen right here or in your favorite podcast app.

Listen to “BAP080 Bravery with Michelle Van Balkom” on Spreaker.

Michelle is the ELL Program Consultant in the Burnaby School District in British Columbia, Canada.  She has 20  years of teaching experience and is a fierce member of my PLN!  You may recognize her from our Saturday morning LIVE #BELIEVE_Cafe shows on VoicEdRadio.  In this show, Michelle helps us see that while we are all feeling vulnerable in a new reality of online teaching, we can reap benefits from the risks we are taking.

You’ll hear us refer to the VirtuEL Conference in this episode.  Michelle was a presenter and that conference happened a few weeks back in July.  You can still ‘attend” all the sessions as they are all free and have a focus on supporting ELs in Distance Learning.  Find those here:

You’ll hear us talk about Michelle’s VirtuEL Session “Raising Their Voices.”  Here is a direct link to that session.

I’m so glad Michelle agreed to be a speaker at VirtuEL.  We are so  grateful to all of our presenters and I’m extra  inspired that  Michelle took a risk to do her session LIVE.   In this podcast we talk about how her technology failed and she had  to re-record  her session.  As you can see, her session is still right in the lineup with all the other sessions.   It has had  so many  views that I cant even imagine how many students are benefitting from the fact that she shared some ideas.

That thread runs through this show.   So many of us are having to be brave and vulnerable right now with technology.  It is not comfortable, but there can be many benefits to us when we lean in to the learning that comes with risk taking.

Michelle and I both wanted to mention  Dorina Sackman Ebuwa and her  #BELIEVE_Cafe series.   Michelle was surprisingly calm on the day  of  the conference and  she attributes that to the  growth she has experienced thanks to Dorina’s free YouTube series on Transformative Emotional Intelligence.

I can’t recommend it enough  in these difficult times.   Her playlist begins with this video:

As we discuss these “technology fails” (that ended up being big wins), I told Michelle about this VirtuEL session by Bret Gosselin.  Bret was a great presenter on our first VirtuEL conference but his sound didn’t work.  He felt pretty defeated back then but just like Michelle, he re-recorded and now this video has almost 700 views.  Imagine the impact!

or what about the effect of this #MADPD session by Jennifer Hunter Dillon? It has almost 200 views and Jennifer recently wrote about the experience for a book we are publishing soon.  Jennifer talked about how scared she was leading up to this virtual conference, and how disappointed she was when her technology didn’t work.   But just like the other stories above, Jennifer simply re-recorded and now there are so many teachers and students who are benefitting from this session.  Jennifer also reports that she grew her network and her own pedagogy because of the experience.

When we are teaching students, we may not be able to just re-record a lesson.  BUT!  We can still model vulnerability the way these educators did.  We can be honest with our students and let them know that we are all learning.  We can look beyond needing a perfect activity and focus on helping students, and ourselves, grow as learners.  The right mindset and the belief that we can all improve.

I ended the show with the first 5 minutes of this VirtuEL 2017 Keynote address by Nancy Motley.  Nancy is the author of Talk, Read, Talk, Write and at the top of her game.  Her words in the first 5 minutes of this keynote should resonate with anyone going through the uncomfortable “FFT’s” (*&%$ First Times) we hear Brene Brown talk about in her work on vulnerability.

Huge  thanks to Michelle and all of the folks in these videos. They help us see the power we can harness and what we can model for students as we step out of our comfort zones.

Thank you SO much for listening.

Take good care,


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