Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How a Whisper Becomes a Roar

Tom Whitby recently challenged education bloggers to post about positive education transformation in the midst of the teacher bashing occurring in the media. The teacher bashing has upset me, too, especially after hearing teachers at the recent televised Education Nation broadcast resoundingly shout, "Fire bad teachers." Education transformation isn't easy or else the education system would have improved immensely within the last 100 years. Maybe we have better facilities and more children receive an education, but we still have numerous problems to fix.

Current Education Roarers

Every field has employees who don't perform according to certain expectations. Smart business folks will tell you that not only isn't firing cost-effective, but usually it isn't the employee who is the problem. If many employees are failing to meet their job expectations it is a training and management problem. My business background has taught me this, but apparently most of the general public worldwide doesn't realize this when it comes to education or they wouldn't cheer the mass firing of teachers or candidates and celebrities who support this. These unfortunately are the roars that are being heard worldwide in the sudden movement for education reform.

These aren't the voices that the public should be listening to or hearing. Instead, I would love for us, our educator Passionate Learning Network (PLN), to be the voices that are heard.

How We Roar

During the Education Nation debate I commented, "If every educator in our PLN shared, shared, shared their best practices on social media we wouldn't be a voice we'd be a roar." Right now over 50,000 educators participate in Social Networks worldwide for professional development (Just check the membership of the various educator Nings, Facebook educator groups, and Educators on Twitter).

I believe our whispers are getting louder, but we can have more impact if we....

Have daily conversations with all stakeholders

Continuous conversations with all educational stakeholders (teachers, students, parents, administrators, community leaders, and support staff) are the way towards positive education transformation. We need to get all sides to listen to each other and collaborate.

The problem is that we aren't being heard by the majority of society. Parents haven't seen how we are educating students and preparing them to problem solve and collaborate with technology. Other educators we work side by side with don't know we blog or read our blogs even if they do. Our progress with students isn't being noticed by the media only our test scores. Our administrators aren't seeing the potential of social networks. I'm talking about the majority of our situations. Let's face it, most educational stakeholders don't collaborate with us in our social networks. You'll find them on Facebook, with Youtube accounts, and contributing to social networks for personal reasons but they just don't collaborate with us.

But we're growing...

I've been on Twitter for a little over a year and I can see a movement growing. We are adding educators worldwide to our online educator communities. I believe this is because so many of us are sharing with our school communities. We are providing online professional development, sharing through several social networks, and even getting noticed by different media sources such as Mashable, the Huffington Post, and TV news. I love when my PLN tweets they have been in the news. I tweet these resources because we should spread good press to combat the negative press. These sources are where the majority of society tunes into so we should spread the word and try to get ourselves in these various media outlets.

Share, Share, Share....

We need to have daily conversations with stakeholders and share what we do with our students. We have to be transparent and not be afraid of letting the public step into our classrooms. We need to have faith that what excites us about how our students are learning will excite their parents, our staff, and the public. If we invite stakeholders to see what we do then we get them to evaluate us based on more than test scores. Unfortunately, we will be evaluated by standardized test scores for a long time as we have been for decades. However, if our community knows about the work we do with students then we have other measures in place to show our students development.

Projects To Help Us Roar

Our ideas for positive education transformation need to be heard. As long as teachers continue to be scapegoats no real education transformation will take place and the millions of children who fail to receive a proper education and enter into poverty will continue to escalate.

So how do we collect the voices in our PLN so we can become a roar?

Several projects have begun that you can participate in to help us become a collective voice:
  • Participate in blogging calls such as this one by Tom Whitby, Ira Socol's Blogging For Real Reform Challenge, and Scott Mcleod's annual Leadership Day Blog Challenge
  • Join the Youtube Educator Stories project where we are aiming to get over 1000 videos of positive practices
  • Participate in the Reform Symposium and other free virtual conference for educators and invite your entire staff to them
  • Participate in educational chats like #Edchat and invite another educator to join. Here's a list of all educational chats and times by @Cybraryman1
  • Join the 30 Goals Challenge and learn how to use social networks to spread your best practices! Invite teachers new to online educator communities to join this free community of mentors and read the free e-book.
  • Share all these free presentations with your community and invite teachers, students, administrators, and community leaders. It's time we had conversations with all stakeholders.
  • Create news blurbs about your innovative practice and share with the local media. Often they are looking for stories and if they can film you and your students they will jump at the opportunity. Ask several till one says yes! Here are some tips for getting on the news!
  • Send out media waivers and publish your work in a wiki, blog, or free school website. Share this on your Facebook account or other place where the public has access and can see the great things you are doing!

Hear Our Voices Rising...

As I finish this post, I am so happy to note that Tom Whitby's challenge was met with great success. Over 115 educators have written about reform today. Check out their posts in the Wallwisher! Become part of a movement. We need your voice! You have something to contribute!


Participate in one of these projects and have a conversation with someone you haven't about what exciting thing you do with your students!

What other projects do you know of that help educators gain a collective voice for positive education transformation?

I'd like to thank Will for allowing me to repost this on his blog! I welcome you to post your views and experiences.

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is the author of the Teacher Reboot Camp blog and tweets @shellterrell. She is also the VP of Educator Outreach for Parentella and the Social Community Manager for The Consultants-E. She has worked with students of all ages for over a decade and now teaches English in Germany.

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