Do I Share?

2013-08-08 17.55.05Sharing. It’s important. We teach our children to share with siblings and with other children. We see examples everyday of people sharing their time, talent and resources. WeDay is a great example of youth sharing with others. One of the youth from my own community was part of the event, sharing her story with the crowd about her sharing. The image above is one I used to share with others the books that I was reading over the summer. We share with our families, with our co-workers and with strangers around the world. Our family sponsors different charities and supports different events through our time and finances. But, when it comes to sharing online, as an educator, well, that’s not always easy.

Teacher’s Sharing

Several post lately have focused on sharing. Dean Shareski writes about sharing our unique stories in Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before. In the post Dean  discusses that, while the stories may appear not to be new, they are:

And that’s why we share and reflect because although on the surface our stories, insights and ideas may not be new, they come with our personal context and perspectives and it’s those aspects of sharing that to me are most interesting and meaningful. It’s the reason that your “research” matters.

George Couros encourages educators to share in his post Something Old is Something New in which he discussed that what we see as being “old” is only old to us.

What is old to you might be new to someone else.

As educators, we sometimes assume that what is happening is something we’ve already seen with a new name and packaging. “Been there, done that”. However, what you might find is that what you are doing isn’t the same old, same old but indeed, something new – from a certain point of view.

Finally, David Truss discusses that we need to have people to challenge our thinking about things in Networked Chambers do Not Echo. What I appreciate about David’s sharing is that he is one busy guy so whatever he shares I know must be something that is really motivating him. How do I know this? Because I’ve connected with him on and off these past few years and know that there are nuggets of gold in what he shares.

Why Don’t Teachers Share?

Should Teachers Share is a post at Edudemic. In it, there are several reasons given that teachers don’t share – Fear being the underlying premise for some of them. And with good reason. As I read through the article, I could relate because each of the scenarios has really happened to me. And, I am still filled with fear – that someone will point out that I did this or that while I was an administrator, that they will let the world know that I wasn’t that great of an administrator – I made poor choices – (role Rob Ford media scrum here!) We all have skeletons in the closet. But, in order to get better, we need to share the good things we did. Anyone can find fault – in education we’ve been doing this for a long time and, this is partially why many educators have not made the move to sharing. It’s freaking scary!

But, from teacher’s I talk with, that’s not the largest deterrent. In fact, it seems to fall into two categories.

Comparing to others

Jon Acuff – author of Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters discusses  the dangers of comparing yourself with others and the harm it does to our willingness to share. In today’s connected world, it is easy to check out and see what other people in our field are doing and writing. From there, it’s a tiny step to feeling “less than” which leads teachers to feel less than experts at what they do and have a hard time sharing less than their best. They often then talk about a few examples of prominent teacher bloggers. “I don’t have the time to do something like THAT!” “I don’t have the time to develop a blog like THAT!” They see someone’s end and think that their beginning needs to be like that – something that many people who start out fall victim to as they begin. There is no way I could compare what I am doing to what many other more prominent and established online people are doing but, at first, it happens. Nor can I compare myself to others who are more technical experts than I am but it happens. “I can’t do that” or “I don’t have access to those kind of opportunities” and the list goes on. These are true statements, kinda. In fact, I don’t have the access or opportunities YET. But, I have a great deal to share – my experiences have provided me with some wisdom. Better yet, I have worked with some incredible teachers whom I have learned from and have taught me about what it means to be a great teacher and that is definitely worth sharing!

Creating a PLN

The other part that really deters people is the lack of interaction and the time it takes to build connections. When I talk with teachers about using twitter or other SM ways to connect, they talk about “time”. Well, in listening to them, it’s not really they don’t have the “time” in the short term but they don’t see interactions happening and then life happens and they can’t get on and then when they go back it starts over again. I have heard things like “those people must not have any families” “do they teach or just go to conventions – that’s all they tweet about! ” “most of them aren’t in the classroom anymore. Some aren’t even in schools.” As I mention above, comparing our beginning to someone’s middle is dangerous. I don’t know who “they” are but I do know that I’ve had some of those thoughts – in times when I’m nose deep in what’s happening around me. At times like this, I engage them by having them look at some of my contacts and people I know who “are like them.” It makes them feel comfortable which is important. Nothing turns people off than feeling like you showed up dressed like a clown to a formal party! If you feel out of place and there is no one who seems familiar around, it’s discouraging. By being able to direct people to such things as chats, hangouts and even decamps  and such articles as this allows educators to test the waters and see all that is happening.

You Need to Listen

Sometimes people are at certain life and career stages that do make it more difficult to connect. Anyone with more than no small children knows how draining having a little tike around can be, while dealing with tweenagers and teenagers can also be challenging. Some people are dealing with aging parents and other life issues. Connecting isn’t happening for some people because they have other areas of more pressing concern. Most won’t tell you, unless you have developed a trusting relationship with them, but if you listen, you will pick up that there are life issues and we need to respect that and offer, that at any time in the future they want to connect, we’ll be more than ready to help them.  Online sharing isn’t for everyone at this moment and respecting that will go a long way in building a relationship that will open the door for someone later on. We need to remember why we are here. 

Sharing Isn’t Easy

I don’t care what anyone says, each time, just before I put myself “out there” I hesitate. My negative experiences still lurking around whispering quietly “remember when….” But, like I indicated in my last post, Yoda was right, either Do or Do Not. So, again, I’ll press that Publish button……

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4 responses

  1. 7 years of blogging and I still get pangs before hitting the ‘Publish’ button on a post! Thanks for clearly explaining the challenging entry point(s) into public sharing. For me the time it takes to be involved is indeed challenging, but the rewards are too great. I learn so much, when I can get a chance, and know that I can drop everything and just join back in when I want. This weekend, I really unplugged, whereas some weekends are my catch-up times.
    It really takes time to build a PLN, but once you have one, the payback is huge. One of the things I’ve written about before is that the shear amount of information available is like drinking from a fire hose, and I’ve learned a couple key things:
    1. You can’t read everything. I used to worry that my Google Reader always said ‘1000 Unread items’. Then I learned to read what was in front of me when I got online, and not to worry that things passed while I wasn’t online. I also know that some of the links you shared in your post would be great to read, but I only chose to follow one link, not every one like I used to try.
    2. My network narrows the stream. They point me to good articles to read and reduce my overall need to search for something worthy of reading.
    As an aside, your blog was one of my first regular reads, way back when I started blogging. Thanks for being my teacher over all these years. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment Dave. I agree completely with the firehose analogy. Like you, I let the PLN filter and point. I wonder if it’s a bit easier to build a network now with more teachers getting involved and things like Google Hangouts which allow for yet another format to join in discussions. The one thing that keeps me awake at night, literally, is the time factor and the increasing stress on teachers to do more. I know that a PLN can help with some of this but, in all reality, what’s going on in many divisions is isolated and fragmented. Teachers, from where I sit, are taking even more of their own time for edcamps and other PLN activities which take away from family time and just add to the imbalance that many teachers are feeling in their work lives. With such a huge move to sustainability in so many work force sectors, it’s almost painful to watch the number of hours beyond work that teachers are putting in. I get the learning and the calling part of the job but, at what point, are teachers being asked to sacrifice too much? I know that having a PLN and growing a group to work together is a great thing. In my discussions with teachers, its the time and they don’t have a big PLN and they don’t feel they have the time to grow one with all the initiatives that are going on and the speed at which things are changing.
      Thanks for the kind words. I know I’ve learned as much from you! I also think that people like you have gained an insight that needs to be shared with the teachers in your district and beyond just because you’ve been around to see how this ride has gone right from the start. That is the part that I think is missing – not the stories or the work from people who have been in a position to be more visible or who have the time to be more involved but from people who have learned and grown and have a sense of what the balance might look like.
      Thanks for taking time to leave a comment. One of these days we will meet up – I’m sure of it. Take care my friend.

      1. I agree with everything you’ve said… Except that I’m not sure I’ve found a good balance, and most people would not want to live the schedule I live. I’m afraid I’m not a good model. I’m writing you at almost 11pm and have a good 2hrs of reading report cards before going to bed. I had subscribed to comments and got your comment above by email… Which I checked after spending the last hour helping my daughter with Math homework.
        It would be unfair to ask or expect anyone else to have a schedule like mine.
        This just exemplifies your point and exasperates me when I think that we do not allow enough prep time for teachers and give them ZERO collaboration time. We spend so much time teaching students the power of collaboration and yet leave teachers in isolation. And with budget cuts year-after-year, I just don’t see things getting easier? What can we do to change this? How can we model working smarter rather than harder and longer?
        Questions I’ve been pondering for a while!
        Hopefully something we can discuss in a coffee shop some day! 🙂

  2. Dave, thanks for the reply. I know that I’ve been in your place many times and have watched it happen again and again. I don’t know if we can continue to ask people to do this given what is happening in others sectors – the move to recognize that having a balanced life is one key ingredient to successful business entities. As I read more about what is happening in other areas and see shifts in workplaces, I wonder if we will be able to continue to draw people to education and KEEP them. Lately more and more younger teachers aren’t wiling to continue at this pace and I don’t know if the ones who are doing the connecting/teaching/learning can continue at the torrid pace they have set without 1) seeking to move into other positions in education but outside of schools/classrooms, 2) seek to move into other sectors related to education 3) seek to move out of education all together. Honestly, can you keep up the schedule you have for 5 more years? After reviewing things myself, I realized I could not/ nor did I want to continue that pace. In speaking with a number of teachers in similar circumstances/experience, it is a general theme. And if the initiative shift doesn’t abate, we’ll see more teachers less wiling to spend time getting connected.
    I hope you have some rest time scheduled into the upcoming days. Take care and know that, someday, we’ll share a coffee and laugh! Take care my friend.

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