It has been a very busy school year already. I’m not talking about all the activities happening in my classroom, those are saved for other posts and social media shares. I’m talking about how busy my weekends have been. It seems that many groups feel the fall is a great time to inspire educators with things to try in the classroom. I have spent hours sharing ideas for others to try in their own classrooms. While it is a lot of what should be my downtime, it’s why I share that matters the most.
At the last conference I attended, I spent time trying to convince a good friend of mine that she could easily present like I do. She has attended a few conferences with me over the years and always complains that there aren’t enough sessions for people who teach what she does. She is a rockstar teacher who does a lot with her class that is innovative, while maintaining the heart of what her kids need and deserve. She’s not shy so I have often wondered why she doesn’t share. Her reply, “because what do I have to share that others don’t already know or want to listen to?” Oh how wrong she is.
Often times teachers have been part of the culture of the teaching island or silo. Close your door and do your thing. While I completely think this is changing, many are still reluctant to share what they are doing. They love getting new information from others, but don’t think they are doing anything special.
When I started presenting outside my own staff, it was one of the scariest things I was thinking of doing. I’m one of those introverted people who can fake it pretty well IF I am talking about education. Like many teachers, talking in front of kids is a piece of cake, but other adults I didn’t know, was horrifying. My body reacted when my brain was saying I could do it. After the first time, I was still so uncomfortable I didn’t put in for anything outside my district for another 3 years. If I stayed within my area, there was a high chance I knew at least one person in the audience and then I could get through it. Even for my first presentation at a big conference, I kind of guilted my friends to attend so I could focus on them. (See Worth the Risk blog post) I just presented my 17th in person presentation (with another 10 online video sessions) and I still wonder if people will like what I have to say.
Through speaking with my friend, I realized there are a couple of reasons I do this. First, if I am not stepping out of my comfort zone, how can I ask the students to? It is something I continue to use in my class. (See Ok to Fail? Blog post) While my zone is getting bigger, I continue to stretch by presenting out of state and with ed tech companies. I bring these experiences to my class. Kids need to see that their teachers take risks as much as we ask them to.
The second reason is for the teachers. We all have something to say. A lot of times I learn just as much from the conversations in the hallways as the sessions I attend. It doesn’t matter if I am talking to a first year teacher or another veteran. We all have something to share with each other. There are pay for lesson sites created by because there is a need for those in the classrooms to share their ideas. Without our voices, education isn’t likely to change. We got into the profession to help students. It’s time we helped each other. It’s why I share.
20+ year teacher, mother of 2 kids and 2 dogs, wife, lover of all things M&M, interested in tech in the classroom, and changing up my teaching