So, I am still struggling with teacher empowerment, looking for inventive ways to inspire sharing and unleash the inner teacher leader in others. I read this blog post today, Why Even the Worst Bloggers Are Making Us Smarter. In it, the author writes “we do not work in a sealed-off, Rodin Thinker fashion.” I’m also reminded of this post by George Couros, 10 Characteristics of the 21st Century Educator. Being networked is beginning to be part of the DNA of an educator. And why wouldn’t you want to be? Couros points out that, “when you are networked, great ideas often find you, not the other way around.”
I think about all that I have learned from visiting classrooms, attending conferences and summer institutes, joining social media groups, and from Twitter. There is no way I could have learned all of that in an education program or even within a single school where I have worked. I also know that if I have a question someone somewhere can help me with it because I am a networked educator.
More than once than week I have said “everyone should see what is happening in…” or “we have amazing things happening in _____ that no one knows about.” My challenge is how to create structures within our culture to highlight great teaching and learning in my school and beyond.
I was at a school accreditation visit recently. I was really impressed with the school and the teachers there. There was a lot of internal sharing happening through Twitter and professional learning communities. But, I didn’t detect much happening outside the doors of the school. In one of my interviews with the teachers I asked if they were presenting at conferences. Out of a group of 50 teachers, only one said yes!
There’s an activity that a lot of social studies teachers do called Me on the Map. The goal of this geography activity is for students to see where theie place is in the world. The relationship between city, state, country, continent is difficult in early grades. Students place their name or school name on an oval and layer larger ovals underneath to represent where they fall within the city, state, country, and continent.
Part of me wishes I could do this activity with teachers. We forget we are part of a larger community of educators, a global community. In my version I might blur the lines between the communities because, as educators, we should weave in and out of many communities sharing our expertise, skills, and talent. There are different purposes and structures for working in each community, but they all work together.
I believe in being networked because of what it has done for my professional growth. I share because I enjoy sharing my passions.I hope someone might find what I share useful and save themselves a little work or discover a solution to a problem of practice. I hope it encourages others to think differently and question. I don’t know where I learned to do this. Most likely it was the result of exposure. I’m hoping exposure is just the trick for others to find their place on the educational map.
Five minutes on Twitter a day. Reading a blog post once a week. A social media group. A collaboration between two teachers on a project. A school visit. That’s all it takes.
On your mark, get set, go.