Guest blog for GoPolluck ( <-Click for my post) with a shout out to Dave Burgess and the Snowball Effect. In this post I sketch out 4 tips my district has implemented to help our PLC grow buy in and build that positive culture we all want.
Though #IMMOOC season 4, sadly, is coming to an end, the challenge thrown out by this year’s authors, George Couros, Katie Martin, AJ Juliani, and John Spencer remain. We’ve delved into the books, discussed ideas through blogs and chats, and we’ve listened to the guests on the live events. The ball has been tossed into our courts, so what now?
While standing in line at PetSmart today, I noticed a reoccurring phenomenon. Dogs everywhere, walking with their owners, tugging at their leashes in a concerted effort to go an entirely different direction than intended. For the most part, each dog owner seemed unaware of the Slanted Dog Walk unfolding all over the store.
As educators, we spend a lot of time telling each other, our students, and ourselves that failure is good. We learn from failing. We encourage students to keep at it, to not give up, to finish the effort. Some of us even model that sometimes, so that we can show students that risk taking is okay, necessary, and totally worth it. And then, we educators, look at a new idea, a way to empower our students, a system that get’s them in the driver’s seat of their own learning, and we back away slowly in fear…of failing…of failure.
Growing up in an educational system that valued and rewarded compliance and conformity has produced plenty of educators who wallow in complacency. There, I said it. We wallow. In complacency. Sound harsh? Maybe, but that doesn’t make it less true, and we need to reflect on our own practices even now. Weekly, Daily. Hourly. I Do, We Do, You Do, in this context, now glows in a whole new light.
As I begin #IMMOCC Season 4 and dive into the blog prompts designed to help me read, reflect, and share my insights, I initially glossed over the one for the book, Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning. I am currently reading this book, and since I’m always reading Innovator’s Mindset, I could draw from that column of prompts too, so I looked, and thought, and circled back around. Inspire creativity and innovation daily. Like every day. Like 5 times a week. Huh. Now, I teach high school, so my mind immediately panicked as it took that number and multiplied by the number of classes I teach. Gulp. Inspire creativity and innovation daily. Yeah. Right.
My school went through a rough few days recently. While our thoughts and prayers were focused on the school in Florida, my own district was threatened. We had to take it seriously, as did law enforcement, As the community outpouring on social media wafted from supportive, frustrated, angry, supportive, and scared, education still had to continue. The show must go on. So we had school with law enforcement patrolling the hallways, parking lots, and town. It was a Monday, of course, and a holiday that we had to use as a snow makeup day. Attendance was down some due to the threat, and at times the tension was palpable.
As more and more educators discover the value of Twitter professionally, it can sometimes seem like an echo chamber, as my #4OCF Voxer group discussed during our book study of The Four O’Clock Faculty: A Rogue Guide to Revolutionizing Professional Development. And since we’re being honest here, we can also admit that the glory of retweets and the race to collect followers can also draw us away from the original beauty of Twitter. That beauty, my friends, is what keeps me going.