I loved how Kristen Swanson closed #edcampusa with this message:
We have a responsibility to share.
Share your stories
Don’t let it die here
And it’s true. We learn and grow through our own reflections and from those of others. But sometimes our “modesty” prevents us from sharing our work. Jerry Swiatek (@jswiatek) brought this up in the first #edcampusa session I attended. Sometimes sharing feels like bragging. I’ve written about this in the past, and it’s often something that holds me back. I have the hardest time with my own colleagues at school, who I respect so much. In fact, I think that sharing great things that are happening right at my own school is one of the things we do really poorly! We tend to hear the great work of a couple of teachers, who are less shy about showcasing their successful projects. But others of us really struggle with that whole sharing versus bragging thing.
One of my goals this year was to help us showcase great work at my school. I successfully started up a “Sharing Best Practices” PLN, with a goal to have informal share-outs of best practices and stories of success/challenges. In addition to encouraging and supporting growth in our teaching, the hope was that these informal meetings would inspire collaboration (cross-department and cross-divisionally) with a better awareness of what our colleagues were working on.
In my first year as technology coordinator for the Upper School, it was also my goal to help highlight projects – both within my own school and out to my personal PLN (though my blog and twitter). For each big project that I worked on with a colleague, I worked with the teacher to write up the learning goals of the assignment and a reflection on what went well and what would be done differently in the future. Documenting this process led to a great discussion, but also allowed us to create a bank of resources (post publicly through our LMS) to inspire other teachers at our school and spark some ideas. I have begun sharing some of these posts on my personal blog, to get feedback from others that might strengthen the project in the future and also to hopefully inspire some ideas.
Project Showcase #1 – Using EDpuzzle To Analyze A Streetcar Named Desire
Project Showcase #2 – Using VideoScribe to Give Advice to the Next Generation of International Students
Project Showcase #3 – Using PowToon to Capture Imagery, Mood, and Tone in Huck Finn
Project Showcase #4 – Using ChronoZoom for French Revolution Analysis Projects
A couple more to come here… stay tuned :)
So the next time you are hesitant to post an idea – thinking maybe it’s not ‘good enough’ or ‘unique enough’ or that you don’t want to come across as ‘bragging’ – remember that we all rely on each other’s ideas for personal growth. We are teachers, after all. Sharing stories with our students is what we do to help take them to the next level. We owe the same growth opportunities to our colleagues.
Great post Stacy. Although I was the one who mentioned it in the session, it’s still something I have a difficult time dealing with. I work with 2 other guys in my department, I work primarily with high school teachers/students, they with middle and primary school teachers/students respectively. I’m always hesitant to even share with the 2 other guys in my department because I KNOW I’ll hear comments about how I’m a “superstar” or “You’re so great!” I don’t think they mean anything by it but it makes me feel very uncomfortable. Although my wife says my ego is huge and my head is way too inflated, I’m actually quite humble about the things that I do with teachers and students in the classroom (we’re doing some really cool stuff.) Since I receive this reaction from my co-workers I’m VERY hesitant to ever share with anyone else in my District. Sadly, until people no longer see our sharing as bragging, most teachers will continue to be uncomfortable with it and until administrators are actively seeking out teachers to share, I fear it just isn’t going to happen. It’s a super difficult obstacle to overcome but one that we must tackle if we are to move forward. It’s just really, really hard for most, including me.
Thanks for brining up the topic, Jerry. You’re right, it’s something a lot of us struggle with. My principal is super supportive – he even gave me time at a faculty meeting to share projects I’ve worked with other teachers on to inspire. When I said that I was really nervous, he laughed saying… you have no problem presenting in front of much larger audiences at conferences, how can you be nervous in front of us :) But it’s the same type of thing. For me, I’m pretty sure I’m also being overly sensitive about it, as I typically am about this type of thing! Something that definitely helped me was that when I did the faculty meeting share-out, I called on the teachers I worked with to do some back-and-forth with during the presentation. But yea, same type of thing… “It’s our responsibility to share” will definitely stick with me.
Great post Stacey. This is part of the reason why I don’t blog like I should… but it’s not a good excuse. For me it’s partly insecurity about thinking that what I’m doing is not great when compared to what the people I look up to (like you, and many others) are doing. But I know that my focus is on enhancing learning opportunities for my students and pushing them to take greater ownership of their learning, and I’m not afraid to take risks and try new things… so I know it would be beneficial to put my experiences and ideas out there so I can get feedback, and hopefully help others who are doing their own experimenting and planning.