There is a problem in being connected and putting yourself out there... A major problem, one that needs to be addressed and spoken about. There are way too many educators that are in it for the wrong reasons. There are so many wrong reasons, but I am going to focus on one particular subset that are not "doing it". They are "pretending to do it" or doing it for the wrong reasons. These are not those types that are just in it for summer schedule, or the great healthcare benefits, although those people are also wrong... This is about those that have found a "voice" and a "connectedness" that then entitles them to not worry about "our kids".
To quote a great song I will find you from OAR: "I am not looking to fight, I just want to move things along"
I will define what "our kids" means to me. It is my students, in MY school, my kids that I literally touch every day, the ones that cry in front of me, laugh with me, may try to hit me, run to me yelling about what they learned, and define the reasons I "do" the work I "do" every day. All my experience and writing comes directly from those interactions within my school (students, staff, community). It is not based on something I heard about or read about.
As a connected educator I see too many other connected educators that are spending so much time podcasting, broadcasting, coming up with hashtags, starting things that really don't benefit "our kids". There is no way they are doing the work, there is no time left in their schedule. The conversations are all surface level with them and when I challenge them from time to time they have just not responded or given me more quotes from Thomas Edison or Plato about "failure" and "working hard". I will say that I do not have close to all the answers, but I also don't speak to those things I don't have experience, or if I do it is to find out more information, not be an expert to perpetuate a possible false message.
I have been interviewed on a podcast, I blog, I have started hashtags, I try to push the right message, so don't get me wrong, that is important, to an extent, when you are ready. But the work comes first, not your message. The message should be a result of your work, not your work defined by your message. What does that mean? It means you have some experiences or examples to which you speak.
I get all fired up way too much! And will use two analogies to explain my point. It is because I read and see so many spreading a message that is something they "feel" is important and therefore try to find the biggest audience possible to spread it. Then some of them even "feel" they have the right to write a book, start a podcast, host twitter chats, and don't live that work. They "feel" because they are in the game (first analogy), they automatically are Lebron James or Kobe Bryant, but never played ball in high school or college, oh wait! these 2 never played in college.
I am not trying to squash someone's voice, but Lebron and Kobe both have something very important in common, they practice all the time! They practice their craft every day and have done it a while, therefore they can speak to their experiences.
Do your job, then speak to that. Don't speak about what you think should be the right way, speak to what you do. It is that simple, if you do minimal work, I mean, can only dribble a ball with your right hand, and barely make a layup, don't broadcast that you are draining 3's to win the game constantly. If you have only played a season or two and never made the playoffs don't talk about winning championships or seeing the promise land. Put in work and time first, the platform will always be there.
It is not authentic and therefore perpetuates a message that is both false and dangerous. Don't push false positive as a means to make yourself seem more important than "our kids." It is not about you, it is about the game, the up and down, the sweat, the work, and celebrations should be communal, not individual. And please if you have not worked in a classroom or school, don't speak to the classroom at all. You can certainly speak to cool tools, products, etc., but don't speak to what you think will work in the classroom.
I spoke to a banker friend of mine this weekend after we cut down his tree, and we spoke about this very topic. He has decided to go on the floor with his employees and give up his office space. Why would he do that? He wants to feel the heartbeat of the room, he wants to collect data, not through numbers but shared experiences and examples. He also does not understand why his colleagues have not figured out this basic concept of living the work and doing the work. He then feels he can use those experiences as a platform for his message and vision.
I will say it again:
DO NOT MAKE YOUR MESSAGE THE PLATFORM, YOUR WORK DEFINES YOUR MESSAGE AND PLATFORM!
Nothing we do is easy, and as I speak through voxer, twitter, or google+ with these so called "Lebron's" I grow increasingly concerned about their motivation. I worry so much about the state of education that I don't need you making others feel a certain way. If your message is false, puffed up, or exaggerated, keep it to yourself. We are not in this to write a novel, be "known". We should be in it to change lives and influence our local community. Our global connections are only good if they help influence and shape our local message/community. If that is not the motivation, then become a consultant, don't work with "our kids."
I try to surround myself with "doers" and not "broadcasters". And as I make more and more connections, I am continuously let down that the depth of their understanding of innovation, data, school culture, relationships, curriculum, and learning are not to the point of true collaboration in thought. Many of them are so distracted by this growing need to "broadcast" a message that they are just regurgitating or pushing for sake of pushing. It is a trap, and one that has constant reinforcement through positive reinforcement, likes, favorites, etc. Don't be a mouse chasing cheese (second analogy). Farm the cow, churn the butter, salt it, and allow it to age first before you sell it at the market. And make sure your market is local before you put it on the internet to sell. Very important in this process. Think Amish when you think pushing your message. Know your product first.
So I challenge you as other educators to stop putting stuff out there you don't practice or that you have only tried a few times without proper vetting. Don't use your current quick "feeling" to drive a message that is not thought out. That is not going to help "our kids" learn or grow. It is not going to help our peers grow to be the best educators they can be. Do the work, then when you are ready, start to talk about it. That is the only way, don't get drunk on the message of you, or did I already say that in other ways?
On top of all this, there are so many great educators that I know that don't have a medium for their message. Push them or amplify their voice, if you know they are doing good work. Spend your time promoting their work and helping them build from a place of wanting to get others involved that previously weren't.
Again your message is not the platform, your work defines your message and platform! Raise your own expectations of yourself, "our kids" deserve that. They need doers, not broadcasters, or talking heads. They need people that have experience (farmers). If you are someone that does not have experience, get it, put in the time, and then as I said before, when you are ready, put your work out there. That is the only way. Don't be Lebron or Kobe until you have learned to shoot and dribble with both hands.