Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Another Chapter In Our LIves- And I Am Questioning Why?

Greetings Edtech Leaders,

I am blogging tonight as I am traveling to Saskatoon, Canada and I have a story to tell, and hope you can bare with me. I have a scheduled technology keynote on Friday, Aprill 11th and a full day planned of hands-on workshops with some of the most inspirational teacher leaders, administrators and library media specialists in all of Canada. This journey has been in the works for over 18 months, to plan and prepare for this engaging technology event. But at the same time my family journey has taken a different route and the recent occurances have not been planned so well, and to prepare us for the next chapter in our lives. 

We received a call on Saturday evening that our 18 year old son who is in the US Army was in a severe motorcycle accident. This was the most heart-wrenching call a mother and father could receive- and at the same time we received this from our new daughter-in-law, Heather, of only 10 months. She was overwhelmed by what was about to take place and the new direction that this accident would now change their lives for their future. *Jake was just stationed with the US Army in El Paso, TX after his basic training and AIT training from summer of 2014. 

Our Jacob suffered sever and intense trauma to his entire body- almost every bone is broken in his body, and he has sustained a brain injury. Yes, he was wearing his helmet and full suited with his US Army required clothing/gear, but nothing could prepare and protect his body for this type of beating. I am not going to go into the detail as you can only imagine, but I ask for your prayers and reflective thoughts to support Jacob and Heather and our entire family during these trying times. 

It has been four days since this event as occurred and we were advised to find a healthy family and work balance to continue on to maintain our health and strength for Jacob and Heather. It seems implausible to do such a thing, but Jeff and I run our own technology company where we have to continue to run the business to pay the bills. I was committed to a major event in Saskatoon, Canada from April 10-12 as being the technology keynote speaker and workshop presenter, and this was the normalcy we were told to follow through on to keep a routine up to support our kids and find a healthy work and family balance. I am committed to provide the best professional development for my Canadian teacher friends and will stay true to my commitment.  Jeff is staying back with Heather to help guide, support and make the critical decisions needed and necessary for Jacob's well being.  

No one ever expects that a life threatening accident would occur in one's family. How does one prepare? How does one find balance? How does one not feel guilty leaving their child behind to go to work?

I am so very thankful to Tim Nielsen, our main EdTech consultant for our company.  He picked up the scheduled trainings that were planned, without missing a beat. He stepped up in high gear to take the lead on finalizing our May events and June summer Tech Splash events. Without him, it would have not have been possible to continue to run our business- Jeff and I are forever grateful.  

As soon as I am done in Canada, I will be flying back to TX to join my husband, Heather and her mom in caring for Jacob mentally as his body and brain heals. He still has not woken up from his accident, but they have him heavily sedated to eleviate the pain and to reduce any kind of pressure to his precious brain.  We will not know what his final physical condition will be until he wakes up- and we pray to god he does wake up. The brain scanning monitor shows that he has good brain movement and there is possibility that he can hear us.  

We are only thinking positive thoughts for him and Heather, and can't wait until the day he can come home so we can care for him in Minnesota. In the mean time many of you have reached out to me and Jeff and have asked what can you do- we have since set up a supportive "Project Hope" website to keep all of you in the loop of Jacob's progress. Heather will be incurring many expences with travel /food cost traveling to and from the hospital daily. There will also be additional family hotel and airline/travel expences, so we have set up a donations portal on the Project Hope website for this purpose if you feel inclined to support our families immediate and future needs with Jacob. The website is located here:

Thank you for your time and effort to read my blog post today, and to support our family through prayers and kind thoughts during this very trying situation.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Teacher Wears Many Hats- But A "Vendor" Title Is Not One Of Them!

Greetings Edtech World,

It was recently brought to my attention from a Minnesota administrator- that another Minnesota school district was inquiring to find out more information about me, my company and my credibility as a presenter. I am glad individuals are seeking out this needed information to do their research on the front end, and bring in the most
influential and inspiring presenter to make a learning impact with their staff. But I later found out one individual responded to the original Google+ post online and noted he did not know much about me, but noted he met me at the MN Google Summit, and interacted with me online though a few Google Hangouts, but viewed me as a "vendor' since I was not "stationed" in a k-12 school. It saddens me to note that some educators view a successful edtech business woman as a "vendor" from their perspective. The online quote from this individual noting, "I met her at the Minnesota Google Summit this past spring and wanted to write her off as a vendor for not being connected with a school." This quote appears as if a woman owned edtech company was frowned upon or looked down upon because I was not in a classroom setting. Yet he does not know my whole story and the capabilities that I have and offer- as I was not there selling anything- I was providing professional development expertise and provided my service for free at this event. 

According to Wikipedia- vendor, or a supplier, in a supply chain is an enterprise that contributes goods or services in a supply chain. Generally, a supply chain vendor manufactures inventory/stock items and sells them to the next link in the chain. Today, the terms refers to a supplier of any good or service.

The word "vendor" apparently can be taken out of context and be utilized in a negative way even though it is meant to positive. The quote I noted in the above paragraph of "I met her at the Minnesota Google Summit this past spring and wanted to write her off as a vendor for not being connected with a school" left me feeling that my unselfish ways of sharing of my expertise and bountiful resources at this event was not appreciated or even accepted. It is amazing how one person can have so much influence- whether negative or positive on another individual with sharing a small piece of misguided information. *Now if he would have only "Googled" my name - he would have gotten the big picture, the whole story- the missing puzzle piece to understand that I am not a "vendor."

Hmmmmm.... this made me really take a step back and look differently at this situation and reflect on this particular incident. In all of my F2F and online presentations, I almost always introduce myself as an educator first and foremost before any of the titles, certifications or years of teaching experience. At times, I even begin my workshops and bypass my intro and truly focus on my audience member intro's to get to know them more professionally, and then usually after an hour or so- an attendee will ask...."and what is your name again and I want to visit or land a job in your school where you instruct." You see, I truly live and breath the life of an educator. It is not about me as a "vendor" it is about the educators I serve to provide them the best possible professional development experiences to improve their instructional practices and approaches to enhance teaching and learning.  Yes, I DO have a dream job as an educator, even though I am not "stationed" behind 4 walls within a physical classroom setting and do not have 25+ students in my classroom.

My job is PASSION - DRIVEN- it is not "vendor" driven. I stay up-to-date and relevant with current trends, research, and best practices in K-20 education. I spend an exorbitant about of time each week researching, reading, designing, creating and publishing original works to share and collaborate with others to extend their and my personal and professional learning. An additional 10-15 hours a week I spend networking, connecting and cultivating relationships with k-20 educators and administrators through social media streams to solve problems, find new solutions or create new edtech work flows to increase productivity and efficiency of a school's professional development learning initiative and communication practices.

The best part of my job is I meet with students and teachers on a regular basis and ask them and discuss with them how they learn best. I dig
deeper into the inquiry process and continue to ask them what would they like to change in their educational work space to create a better, safer and more conducive learning environment. And then I try my best to make the magic happen with finding funding resources, or connecting or bringing in experts in virtually to provide new inspirational insights to support their practices of change, or empowering the teachers and students to step-up, take the risk and activate the change they are seeking for improved classroom learning experiences. 

Then as I continue on with my "normal 60+ hour work week" as many educator's do,  I provide inspirational professional development to schools throughout the Nation and Internationally- whether it is onsite or through Adobe Connect or Google Hangouts as webinars. I wear many hats in my job- as most educators do, as I am also a technology coach, a Google Certified Teacher, a National Intel Senior Trainer, and a 1:1 mobile learning specialist.

My job is to empower teachers and administrators with motivating and engaging best instructional practices- to improve their teaching and administrative performances in their k-12 teaching and learning environments- to ultimately impact student achievement for each and every child in their district. 

My name is Naomi Harm, I am a very proud and respected educator, I am a mother, I am a first time grand-mother, I am the CEO of Innovative Educator Consulting Corporation, a first generation woman owned business entrepreneur- and proud of it! I am not a vendor.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

5 Years Ago Today- Where Were You? I Changed The World!

February Greetings Blog Readers,

Life has been a simple whirl wind of PD adventure since the holidays. I need to take a step back and reflect on my learning and celebrate on all the great things that are taking place around me and in my life at this moment. For starters, today- February 26th- is my five year mark of the the official day I started Innovative Educator Consulting (IEC) Corporation. Wow- where have the five years gone? It has been a marvelous learning journey, but most importantly a monumental step for me personally and professionally as a woman business entrepreneur.

Many of you that know me professionally and personally- know that I am very driven, very inspired by positive like minds, and very competitive and will accept a challenge and or risk to make a transformational change when it comes to impacting k-20 education with teachers, students and administrators! Five years ago- I accepted this challenge head on to start my own edtech consulting company. My goal was to note and document its success or setbacks each quarter, and then collate this data into an annual review by the end of year one. I knew this data would showcase the bigger picture for me of my success or shortfalls of my company. I also knew this data collection would be my guide to make a choice to continue on with this edtech adventure, or choose to go back to the teaching world within a classroom setting from the annual review. By the end of year one I knew I  was on the right track to success- as I had landed 72 separate school contracts to provide on sight edtech professional development trainings that ranged from 1 day of face-to-face PD to up to 10 days of tech immersion trainings and crafting technology action plans within k-12 school districts.

They say when you are creating an edtech startup, that one needs to make an equivalent of up to three times the salary one normally makes in one's current position to provide for the edtech consultant's costs incurred, the salary allotted, the benefits and the health insurance one needs to provide as a private business owner. Well.... needless to say, I met my mark and surpassed the three time equivalent mark of bringing in the necessary revenue to support my edtech company. This provided me with a feeling of much accomplishment and much security.  I also knew that the edtech training landscape can greatly shift based on contributing factors of school districts tech needs, dollars allotted for PD and just in time emerging tech initiatives. Based on this evidence,  I needed to plan for long term. With year one under my belt- I needed to look deeper and project a visionary focus of what IEC could look like by year 3 and by year 5. I wanted to make sure my delivery and design had my fingerprints all over it, so I focused on a detailed edtech brand initiative for consistency with logos from my website, to my invoices to my tech swag. *Teachers and admins love swag you know :-) I wanted districts to identify my company with my brand, and when they saw it published in other districts marketing flyers, on listservs or through social media marketing- that could relate that PD offering back with my company. This way the brand and my first name of "Naomi" marketed itself- and I still to this day have districts that saw my name or company logo and chose to reach out to us again based on the visual and the great learning experience they remembered from a past training experience.

My long term goal was to grow the company at least 25-30% every year. This took careful and diligent planning on my behalf with creating consistent inspirational PD content offerings and technology leadership trainings that were much needed in the Midwest. By the end of year one we had a 27% growth factor based off my current postion working for an edtech agency. Year two and year three proven to be just as strong with a 30% increase in revenue. By year four we hit 34% and now the cmilestone mark of year 5 we are starting out with rocket numbers projected, and new edtech consultant hired on to continue our team's efforts. It can be contributed too many things- but my data reflects three main areas that have driven my business model: 1. Customer service follow through with highly collaborative communication and feedback,  2. Deliverables of high quality professional development of interactive keynotes, edtech workshops, or tech leadership focus groups, and 3. My social media presence.

The first contributing factor is that I am very adamant of following through and following up with all k-20 customers within a 24-48 hour time period- whether it is phone call, email or video conference. I do not break this rule of thumb. If I find myself in a bind and where I can not get back to an individual, I am totally honest and let them know that I can not meet the deadline I set, but will get back with them in the next 48 hours with a followup. I have had so much positive customer feedback on this communication technique and tech resource support/guidance- that is a by far the #1 contributing factor that has driven our business to where it is today.

The second contributing factor- providing high quality professional development training that is personalized to the need of the individual district. I am a stickler for identifying the immediate tech literacy need on the front end of any PD I deliver. I need to know the districts vision, mission and the where they are at in their strategic plan to identify the "how" this meets their planned initiative to document for accountability to all stakeholders.  I will never deliver any PD training just because it needs to get checked off a list. The PD offerings must have a purpose, must meet an ISTE Standard(s) or a specific target teacher/student learning outcome. Every training I provide I share the customized quality training presentations, resources and ehandouts. My willingness to collaboratively share my created materials freely and openly with schools has hands-down led to IEC's business growth.

The third contributing factor is my social media presence.  My presence is professional and I make it a point to share inspirational resources each and every day. I also pose questions to learn from others through this global audience to gain better perspectives from others and gain critical insights on new initiatives. My social media presence of Twitter has been very effective in landing many edtech contracts from districts national wide and now internationally. Who ever new 140 characters is one of the best forms of communication to grow and sustain one's business model- well I sure did and have been on Twitter now for over 8 years. Special thanks to John Pederson- my Twitter "Dad" for introducing me to Twitter- "back in the day" in rural southwest Wisconsin, when we were trying to figure out the power of this "Internet thing" out- and to think some people thought it was going to go away :-)

But the most important critical factors of what has made my company so successful- it is the individuals
I work with and surround myself with on a daily basis. These individuals are like-minded, positive thinking, emerging tech-geeky individuals that understand who I am and make me better every day! They challenge me to think differently about edtech and how it fits into the big picture of k-20 education, they pose and create new opportunities of digital design with PD offerings, and they inspire me and make me laugh to help me find a sense of balance between home, work and family.  These unique individuals include the dynamic edtech consultants I have and will continue to hire
regularly of Tim Nielsen, Deb Norton, Jenna Linskens, Jeanette Armstrong, Jennifer Malphy, Jena Sherry, Heidi Catlin, Curt Reese, Joe Sanfelippo, Dan and Sally King, Beth Lisowski, Tammy Lind, Tom and Rachel Hartly, Sue Gorman, Kim Berg, David Kapuler, Ben Hommerding, Kris Szagner, and Angie Kalthoff.

And of course I can not do this all by myself- I am so thankful for my husband Jeff, as he took the leap with me over three years ago and quit his network tech specialist job in a school district to come work for me at IEC full-time. Jeff is the "Braun" of our company, as I am the "Brains" as Curt Reese would say. Jeff is the CFO, he is my main accountant and contributes to the brains to make the numbers work :-), he is also our main technology support specialist.  He works with all of the tech to make sure it works seamlessly in the back ground for all of our onsite tech trainings, hosted events and live webinar meetings and blended learning events. He is my rock and my support- his knowledge and tech expertise has greatly contributed  to the entire success of IEC these past five years!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Time to Give Thanks

Well it has been way too long since my last blog post. My traveling and training schedule since this summer has been so jammed packed- but in a good way! I have had many teaching and learning adventures that I would like to share with all of you! As of July 1, 2013 I hired a new and amazing EdTech Consultant of Tim Nielsen.

Tim brings to our company a fresh, new and exciting outlook on mobile learning workshop perspectives and teaching offerings. Tim is coming from a local Wisconsin k-12 school district with a well-rounded and highly defined skill set of being a building tech integration coach, an elementary classroom teacher and a Master Teacher of the UW-L ME-PD program with a case study focus of the impact of mobile learning student learning centers in an elementary setting. Tim also has designed and facilitated several dynamic workshops for my company this past Spring, Summer and Fall focused on Google Apps, Chrome Apps and Extensions, 1:1 Chromebook Teaching and Learning Environments, SMARTBoards, iPad Student Literacy Centers, Google Hangouts and Google Glass- and the Impact of Blended Learning, and so much more! We are so excited and proud to bring him on board! His enthusiasm for learning and collaborative and design teaching style are so infectious! Welcome aboard "Mr. Friday" as I call him - but welcome "Timmy" and we are so glad to have you be part of our Innovative Educator Consulting team.

As we continued to deliver several technology literacy boot camps and workshops throughout the Midwest this Summer and into the Fall, we had some other family critical factors taking place in the background. Our youngest son, Jacob, was married to the most beautiful and delightful, Heather Gavin from Caledonia, MN. These two have been high school sweethearts- and they decided to seal the deal on June 24th - and with both their parent's blessing- before he left for the US Army mid July to become a Fire Support Specialist. Jake has since graduated from basics and AIT from the US Army and has just recently been stationed in El Paso, Texas at Fort Bliss. Heather will join Jacob in Texas around the Christmas holidays to start their new life together.

September brought a lovely bundle of joy into our family, as our oldest son Ryan and his wife Krissy gave birth to a little girl on September 28. This little girl's name is Madelyn Ann and has brought so much joy into
all of our lives. As of yesterday she had her two month checkup and she is one happy and healthy little girl. We are such proud grandparents!

 October brought about many new opportunities to present nation wide and one of my favorite locations included Napa Valley, California at the CUE Conference. Had a chance to catch up with many Twitter PLN friends. Many of these friends I have only met online, and to meet them face to face was a sheer pleasure. Thanks to Alice Keeler, Mark Hammons, Danny Silva, and Barbara Bray for the extended welcome to CUE and Napa Valley- and an opportunity to learn from the very best Google Certified Teachers and present at this wonderful conference!

 Since I worked all summer long and did not get a day off since the end of May, my husband and I thought it
would be a good deal to take a Fall working break and continue on with a 5 day holiday to Maui, HI. Much deserved! The constant sunshine alone, the beautiful array of flowers, the sounds of the breaking ocean waves and the daily plunge into the beautiful clear ocean to snorkeling was my heaven, my mental stress relief from the nonstop work routine from my EdTech company. Everyone needs to turn off the technology at times, find a healthy balance for fun, relaxation and family time- and to reconnect with nature to appreciate the beautiful sights and scenes of what our great Earth has to offer. I always feel so refreshed and energized after a sun-filled vacation to jump start a new design and creation side with my work and delivery of tech infused workshops.

November marked the calendar for the annual Intel Moderator Summit in Portland, OR. I love this event because I get to meet up with my favorite Intel Girls and network, collaborate, and change the EdTech world for good! #TeachersEngage Not only did I meet up with the Intel girls- we have got a pretty good team of the Intel Guys too- you know- we cannot leave our gentleman teacher friends out of the picture for too long :-)

This trip was extraordinary and very special- because I had nominated a great Wisconsin teacher friend to accompany me on this journey this time. Deb Norton, is one of the five educators of choice that made the "Intel Attendee List." Deb is 5th grade 1:1 teacher from Ripon, WI and is one of the most influential educators I know. She is so enthusiastic, passionate about teaching and making immediate changes in her classroom practices. Deb is so willing to take a risk or meet any challenge head on. I also nominated Deb for this EdTech adventure because she is doing so many dynamic and innovative teaching practices in her daily classroom instruction and delivery approaches with her students. I knew she would be up for the challenge to work with other innovative educators from around the nation. Thank you Deb Norton for being one of my very best and closest teacher friends- EVER! I love you girl and thanks for all you do!

November welcomes me every year as it is my birthday month. I turned a big 45 this year- wow I cannot believe where the heck did the last 20 years go? As a birthday surprise and a gift to myself and my company- I had an opportunity to order Google Glass from my favorite New York Google Certified Teacher friend and Intel Girl, Blanca Duarte. Google Glass arrived a few days after my birthday. I'm just digging into the inner workings and the EdTech possibilities of this type of wearable technology- and I am truly fascinated about the endless possibilities to make a meaningful impact in the k-12 classroom environment! And yes I did order the tangerine orange- as it so matches my company's branding colors!

Thank you Blanca for providing our company
the opportunity to work with this new augmented reality technology! Tim Nielsen and myself will make you very proud! In addition to Google Glass, my middle son, Darin (Sprint Senior Analyst) also hooked me up with a New Google Nexus 5 Google phone- OMG I am in so in love with my Nexus--- do not tell my husband about this tech love affair :-) It works seamlessly with Google Glass- this is best tech rock show one could ever image and I am so excited that I can be a tech rockstar member!!! Thanks to my son and closest friends for the Google Nexus 5 recommendations and for making this all happen! #TogetherWeAreBetter

Now that we are closing out November, December will be rolling in very soon with new teaching and learning adventures. These adventures include presenting at the Wisconsin SLATE Conference on iPad Literacy, Intel Elements, and Design on a Dime- Flipping Your Physical Classroom Environment. And after SLATE I fly out immediately to present on behalf of ISTE for their Mobile Learning initiative in Texas to impact nationwide educators- I am THRILLED for this new partnership and the opportunity to influence so many lead educators from around the nation. Thank you ISTE for seeking me out and providing me this wonderful opportunity and partnership!

December also brings about the month of holidays and celebrations in our household. My baby boy of Jake- well not such a baby anymore and 18 year old soldier- that I mentioned earlier, will be flying home to celebrate Christmas with us- I am so excited- as we have not seen him since this summer. And of course- due to the hectic December training schedule- we are going out today- yes today November 27th to purchase a 10 foot live Christmas tree to get a jumpstart on the holiday decorating. My other two son's and wives/girlfriends do not know it- but they will get the sheer pleasure of helping me decorate the holiday tree after our Thanksgiving feast planned for Friday of this week. We always use to decorate the tree on the weekend of the Thanksgiving holiday when they were kids, and it is just not the same to decorate the tree all by myself. Hopefully they will be as excited as I am about this idea :-) Many hands make for light work :-) Yes, this is our Christmas tree from last year in the provided picture - I am all about the detail and color coordination- as I am an interior designer by heart!   Wishing you all a joyous holiday season from November through December from the Innovative Educator Consulting EdTech Team!