Saturday, May 06, 2006

Speaking with authority and credibility - revisited

Ever write something so awful that it's painful to even go back and look at it? Never mind read through it carefully. I wrote Speaking with authority and credibility nearly two weeks ago. I was smack dab in the middle of running the Earth Day Groceries Project, preparing my third graders for the WASL, and I had gotten way too involved in the discussion over George. I was exhausted, stressed, and frustrated. So I really let it fly.

There were people outside of the classroom saying things I did not agree with. Telling me what the problems were. I believed their suggestions for and criticisms of teachers were not based on the reality that I knew. I'd been doing this, pushing the tech envelope in the classroom, for a long time. I believed I knew what I was doing and had the right to say so.

I read through my post again this morning - yikes, words like "pontificating" and "spew forth" are certain to bring about angry and defensive reactions from even the most level headed and confident folks. Interesting responses to the post in several places.

Do I still feel the same? Sure.
Would I say it differently now? Sure.
Do I need to explain or add anything? Yes, I would add this...
It's about what those who are not classroom teachers have to offer - or at least what I find useful and helpful.
  1. technical knowledge, the "how to" stuff. This is a short item, but very important. So many great ideas out there, and no lack of generosity in sharing them!
  2. encouragement. This is huge to me. I have many to thank for this, and most are not in the classroom. Teachers doing what I do are very much on our own, not just in our schools, but in our school districts. You really have nobody to bounce ideas off of, get excited about new things with, etc. When I first started blogging on my own, and then with my kids, I assumed I was one of many doing that - hundreds, probably thousands, I thought. Not so. There is ONE other teacher blogging with her students in Seattle, just down the hall from my classroom. I try and encourage her...

So, many thanks to Wesley, David, Will, Gordon, and Miguel. (oops - one is a classroom teacher!)

I've learned a fair bit about myself in this - the rant, and the fallout. First, I need to carefully regulate how far I let myself get involved in trying to "fix" the systemic stuff. Blogland is a funny place, in that it's real easy to overestimate your influence and your ability to change things. I absolutely loved Doug Noon's post this week, Commit to Being a Flea - and the resulting conversation in the comments. This feels like a comfortable suit for me to put on for a while. But I will be "Mighty Flea" - or something :) Imagine an army of us.

Second, I've been reminded how fragile personal feelings are, how words said in the heat of the moment may linger for a long time, may become twisted, taken personally, misunderstood, and used for other purposes besides the original intent. I worried about losing friendships.

Third, I've learned that I just can't stop listening to good writing - I just love it. So, on this little blog, I've featured direct rss feeds to a few classroom teachers who are wonderful bloggers, but I have also added a blogroll that includes just plain good writers and thinkers on ed/tech stuff.

Fourth, I've discovered the peace that comes with hanging with your own kind. Don't take this the wrong way. I don't know how to express it exactly, it's kind of a "herd" mentality thing, I guess. There is a good feeling that comes from being surrounded - physically at times - by those just like yourself. I've never been much of a group follower - and education certainly does not cultivate this value amongst teachers - so it is comforting, in a way, to be in the company of classroom teachers who blog on their own and with their kids. It's a small herd (fleas, mostly), but at least I've located it.

Last, I've remembered what it's like to stick your neck out for something you believe in. It has been a while.

1 comment:

Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher said...

This is a great post. This is an important lesson to teach to children -- once something is said on the Internet it can not really be taken back, it is there in cache-land somewhere.

This is excellent insight. Be encouraged, the blogosphere is growing and you'll know that you were one of the early "fleas."