Continuing the Conversation

Anyone who has ever tried to introduce new ideas in an established institution knows that it is hard. Last year, as I began a new position that would hopefully begin to promote a change in how teachers and students thought about and used technology in education, I was realistic about the time, energy and difficulty of the job. However, the difficulties varied in ways that I could not have imagined and continued even in the successes. One of those ways was the frustrating reality that I was a “prophet in my own land.”

After attending ISTE last year in San Diego by myself, I was excited to be able to bring along four colleagues this year. Two of them were first grade teachers whom I had worked closely with as we began implementing iPads into the classroom. They left the conference ready to go back and share their shift in thinking. They got it! And I learned the hard cold lesson that no matter how many times and different ways you try to share a message, sometimes people need to hear a different voice.

As usual, while I mulled all of this over in my head the topic was already being addressed by other bloggers. The great thing about blogging and social media is that we can continue conversations and draw on each others’ perspectives to continue our own learning.

When I read the quote below, I knew exactly what Rafranz Davis was saying in her post 20 Tips To Being a Prophet In Your Own Land 

“…it seemed as if the training stayed behind in the training room. It was disheartening to experience. The thing is, that many of us experience this same reality.”

In The Prophets In Your Land, George Couros addresses the culture shift that needs to happen in our schools toward sharing with and learning from each other.

“Think about it … there are tons of teachers out there sharing awesome things on their blogs, great ideas to improve teaching, learning, and leading, yet how often does their OWN staff use their work as a basis for anything?”

One thing I try to teach my students is that they can not always control situations around them or what other people say or do, but the one thing they can control and be responsible for is the way they react. In that vein, here is some advice to myself, and anyone else who might need it.

Don’t take it personal. When you are passionate about something that is not accepted, it is hard not to take it personal. Acknowledge that disappointment and move on, because… It is not about you. Think of it as developing ego resiliency and focus on what is important. It is about student learning.

Celebrate successes, no matter where they come from. Support the paradigm shift. We may not get to flip the switch to turn the lightbulb on, but we can keep supplying it the energy it needs.

You may not see immediate results of your efforts. Keep sharing innovative ideas and sometimes, Show instead of tell. Actions always speak louder than words. Remember, You are not alone. Every teacher, principal, coach, etc. who is practicing and sharing innovative teaching and learning practices has the same struggles. Dig dip into the well that is your PLN, we need each other.

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4 thoughts on “Continuing the Conversation

  1. I just wrote a blog post about collaboration with teachers–interesting we are all thinking along the same lines. Some of the best advice I heard was by the CEO of @getstoried — He mentioned that people need to see themselves in our stories. Which makes me wonder if the most helpful thing we can do is share success stories INSIDE our district — so they are more relatable (when possible).
    Just some thoughts that stirred in me… Not trying to promote my post but there are some related thoughts in there if you are interested: http://futura.edublogs.org/2013/07/07/enabling-better-collaboration-an-iste-conversation/

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    • Thank you for sharing your post and adding to the conversation! I particularly like the part about telling our collaboration stories and the need for teachers to see themselves in our stories. That gives me more to think about!

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  2. This post is relevant as I’m finding that more teachers are utilizing PLNs to innovate within their own school. These teachers have so much to share, yet they might not feel heard by the local system that is currently in place. Showing instead of telling is one way to communicate these new ideas that may lead to innovative changes. A school/district climate that encourages and allows opportunities for sharing is important in these circumstances. At the same time, teachers shouldn’t wait for the environment or leadership to adopt their ideas. Teachers can take risks and utilize new ideas to better their class and learning. Thanks for the post.

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    • I agree, Matt. We have so many avenues to share, but often feel unheard by those closest. I think those teachers taking risks can often find an audience outside their schools to support them while still trying to share within their own walls. Thanks for the comment!

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