Blogging for Grassroots Positive Reform: November 22, verse 2

Tom Whitby,@tomwhitby, called for our professional learning network to speak on October 17, 2010 to positive reform of America’s educational silos. 118 edu-bloggers from all walks responded with cogent, passionate messages from the heart. The REBELSbloggers wallwisher and  @ericmacknight’s blog site archived these blogs on behalf of the PLN.

graphic courtesy of:  http://speedchange.blogspot.com/

A week later in rereading these incredible posts, I couldn’t shake one of those philosophical questions of college days gone by. “If a tree falls in a forest, and no-one’s around to hear, does it make a sound?”  I feel that our voices are somewhat like that. The intensity of our daily calls to action forms a cacophony in my mind. I hear. Members of our active twitter and blogging communities hear. But, if politicians, the media, the business community, senior citizens, and many others including our colleagues aren’t in our network, “do our voices make a sound?”

November 22 provides us with another chance to unify our voices for real grassroots educational reform. It’s almost Thanksgiving and there’s nothing we should be more thankful for than the 1000s of Statue of Liberty schools in this nation whose doors are open to all. To be thankful, however, does not mean we need to maintain the past. Ira Socol, @irasocol,  captures that perspective in his Blogging for Real Reform post about November 22.

Let’s continue our work just one month after Tom’s initial call to action. We know we need to form a new era rather than just reform the factory schools of our past.

Write about policies that don’t work and what we should do instead. Write about learning for the future such as advanced in the National Educational Technology Plan. Write about your passions for teaching the contemporary learners you serve and what you need to support your work. Write about the educational changes our young people deserve from educators and politicians alike.

Let’s make sure our voices are heard on and after November 22. The American Association of School Administrators and the Virginia ASCD both have taken a public stand to say, “let’s continue this call to action in the social media world” by supporting the November 22 date on their websites. Paula White, @paulawhite, of the  cooperative catalyst graciously has set up a site for archiving links similarly to Eric’s site.

Our links from October 17 and November 22 need to make a sound beyond our “forest.” Let’s not just write, but also share work with local media, national media, politicians everywhere, the Secretary of Education and the President of the United States. Our educational associations, many of whom have a social media presence today, need to hear us. We know the names, the emails, the twitter addresses, and blogs of those who need to hear educators’ voices. We just need to share.

Through our positive efforts, let’s create a movement for grassroots education reform. Seth Godin in a Ted Talk says that a Tribe becomes a movement when passion for change is ignited.  I like to think that October 17 wasn’t just an event but the beginning of a movement.  If you are active in any one of our chat networks and the Educators’ PLN, help publicize and encourage everyone’s engagement on November 22. Post your social media voices at cooperative catalyst and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

Then, take it a step further and share your favorite posts or all of them from both October 17 and November 22 with those who need to hear from us.

Moving Up the Learning Curve

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It’s good to be surrounded by people who know a lot more about technology than I know- virtual and face-to-face friends, colleagues, my son. I can always ask for assistance and they are more than willing to help me unwrap or unravel whatever I have done to create my own version of chaos theory inside a device. Often, they say things like “I’ve not seen this before” or “Boy, I’m gonna have to ask somebody else about this.” This isn’t new in my world. My approach has always been to jump in and try to figure it out as I go. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not. It definitely makes learning new things a bit messier.

I’m truly baffled as to why I am so resistant to using print resources to figure out technology tools and apps despite my passion for 24/7 reading. Perhaps it’s a kind of stubborn resistance to depending on someone’s formula or a reliance on pre-defined steps. I used to feel the same way about math problems in textbooks, too. Or, maybe it’s some sort of Konrad Lorenz imprint on my grandfather who used to say when he would pass a tool to me to help with a project, “the worst thing you can do is break it.”

math for the ages

Anyway, I finally set out to build my own personal blog space this week. I looked at over one hundred blogs over the weekend as they began to stack up on @tomwhitby’s RebelSBloggers wallwisher site. When I hit the publish button on my own post at eduratireview, I watched as fellow bloggers started posting. It struck me that the time was right to build my own blog site, preferably with no assistance. How hard could it be? What would I do if I messed it up? It was comforting to know I could go to @beckyfisher73, @paulawhite, or @chadratliff- all accomplished bloggers in my immediate neighborhood- and just ask.

Well, I think I’ve done it without anyone’s help. No real glitches. No snafus. I’ve pushed myself up the learning curve, just wordpress.com and me, creating a new space for learning- an interesting space to capture and exchange ideas, information, images, and opinions.

In reflecting on work that’s no challenge for most of those who might read this, I have learned from pushing myself beyond a comfort zone in the use of technology that lifelong learning doesn’t come easily. I get frustrated. I swear that I am done with it- forever. I get embarrassed that what my son does intuitively, I struggle to learn.  I’ve come to the simple conclusion, it’s a good thing to feel that way. It reminds me that every day in our schools children struggle to learn what comes easily to their peers. It reminds me that teachers are challenged to find the time and the courage to take a risk and get over the hurdle to learn new skills. Importantly, I am reminded that to learn in a new space may not go as planned, indeed, it may not go well at all. It makes me feel vulnerable. It’s scary. It’s a different version of facing mortality when I realize I can fail publicly.

However, I’ve learned an important lesson from my friends and colleagues over the years; I can fail and bounce back with their support to learn what I need to keep going as a learner. It’s when I feel I have no learning safety net that I fear failure’s permanence. I wonder how many of our children feel there’s a learning safety net there for them when they fail, rather than just another bad grade. We must not leave those safety nets to chance- not for our colleagues, our family, our friends, or the young people we teach. After all, on some days any one of us will need that net.

learning together