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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Don't cut off noses and hand out roses



"There is no point in cutting off a person's nose and then giving them a rose to smell." Indian proverb

As we consider change and helping others change, it is important to remember that WHAT we say is important but often HOW we say it is more important.

I saw that this week as I felt myself getting upset while discussing what types of things the teachers at our school need to learn at an upcoming class. I've lived and breathed and researched and studied for this moment and when asked, quickly typed up a two page list of simple ways for teachers to integrate technology into their classroom, while understanding that they are often beginners and only have one or two computers in their rooms.

My time had come! Oh no, it didn't!

It didn't matter.

It didn't matter that "I'm the cool cat teacher" (ha ha) or that "I cohost Wow2" or the countless hours spent researching and studying how to effectively implement technology in the classroom. The presentations, the awards, all of the things that I had done simply didn't matter.

All that mattered was my ability to keep calm and express in the simplest terms possible the value of these tools.

My ability to treat the person who has all of the decision making authority as an equal with an equally valid viewpoint (although it may not be as well informed.)

An ability to keep focused and express myself without using the terminology this person had already written off as irrelevant like blog, wiki, podcast, etc.

It simply did not matter except that I treated her with respect, dignity, and when given the chance that I expressed myself as kindly and simply as possible.

It took an hour. And even then I felt insufficient.

Still, the other teachers have to request what they want to learn. (Despite my objections that often we don't KNOW what we need to learn.)

And I too have to sit through this workshop (which really rankles me a bit but I must adjust my attitude and know I can learn ... thankfully, the workshop is with Dr. Shepherd so I know I'll learn some great things.)

And this is the struggle all of us face.
The fact that online credentials and credence don't matter a hill of beans in our own back yard.

And in my back yard I'm often considered that little geeky girl that I was in middle school and will remain to be. Often it means that they leave me out because they don't realize that I can help beginners learn. (My problem is not enough time, not lack of ability.)

So, frustration aside... it comes back to kindness, decency, and a whole lot of patience.

Hotheads don't change anything but their own blood pressure! So, remember, this week, when you're ready to "change the world" that it often starts with your own attitude and willingness to submit yourself to the authorities that be who, although they may not know as much as you, are still your authority.

You can do this.
You can promote change. However, promoting positive change for the good of our students has never been easy and is only attempted by the valiant souls who are truly willing to sacrifice themselves, their own egos, and often their own aspirations to help progress.

If teaching is the most noble calling on earth, then teachers who step outside their classroom and kindly, patiently, advocate change for everyone are saints. It is easy to cocoon in the classroom, but if you can help others, then you should do it!

Make a difference where you are...

and don't cut off noses and hand out roses!


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