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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tears on the Keyboard



Photo by rent-a-moose on Flickr
This global collaboration thing isn't easy. This morning there are tears on my keyboard. Tears of heartache for a teacher who is giving everything she has to help her tiny town see the world and help students break out into a globally competitive marketplace.

Yet she has been shut down because:

"No one else is doing this in our state, so why should we?"

Here are some words I wrote her just now:

I'm heartbroken with  you and for you, my friend. What else can I say but push through - this too shall pass. You're leaving a legacy. We can look back and know that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb but as he failed 99 times you know he had to cry on his soldering. He had to. He had to wonder if it would ever work just right - it worked and he illuminated the world.

When we get this right - it too shall illuminate our world in powerful ways. We cannot stop but have to improve.
Earth Island Rising
This is the struggle of moving into this arena. The struggle of connecting. So many people see the islands but don't see that these islands are connected by the cabling running under a sea of change. The seafloor is rising and we are becoming one big blue and white swirly island of interconnected people: Earth Island.

But this is PART of being an innovator and it is not easy. We had a parent one time accuse us of being terrorists because students collaborate with countries in the Middle East. We've been accused of being everything.

Everything that a local community hates about that faceless enemy "out there" that is another race, another culture, another country over there somewhere else that somehow is wanting to come through the computer to take things away from those living in isolation and denial that the world is connecting and that those who understand how to connect have the advantage.


Success is a Connection
Success is no longer a location but rather, success is a connection. Being connected can overcome barriers that miles cannot block. Not location, location, location. Connection. Connection. Connection.

If you innovate you know what I'm talking about and it is OK. Yes, times are tough. But we don't come out of tough times by "marching in place" -- advance -- advance. When money is scarce the advance no longer comes by spending the extra coins in our pocketbook but through the sweat and tears that provide the fuel. Honestly, sometimes blood and sweat is a more turbo-charged fuel than money: both together can be powerful but also quite rare.

What Do you Teach Your Children?
Do I ever wonder if it is worth it? Do kids understand it? Do parents appreciate it? Of course.

But I teach my own children this year - one is in my grade 9 and the other in grade 10 and I'm teaching like a madwoman because my time is short and my own children HAVE to know this.

Here's the litmus test. If your own child was in the class you are teaching what would you be doing? Well, my children are in my classes and I'm doing Flat Classroom, Digiteen, NetGenEd, and every technology I can get my hands on.

Tears may be on my keyboard but fire is in my heart to do right by my own children... and yours.

So, back to writing this Flat Classroom book even though I am deflated and my heart hurts right now for my friend. My heart hurts because she is wounded and so am I. Yet, this is part of being a leader and doing the right thing. Company is lonely on the bleeding edge but it is so funny how many people want to claim you without paying the price or really knowing what it is like.

Get up and get moving!
Friends, if you're one of us crying on the keyboard-- wipe your tears. Stop it right now. Get up and get to work. We've got work to do.

Who do we think we are that the tough things in this world would all of a sudden become easy?

Do we think we have some right to be coddled or have an easy life here?

We need to get over ourselves and know that hard work is hard work.

Positive change requires positive effort and constant reinvention. It also requires knowing that we will be criticized, misunderstood and that by putting ourselves out there that we can become the topic of debate as our field moves towards better best practice. There will be those who will try to jump in at the end and "steal the formula." Who cares.

This will be a life journey well traveled if we travel it with people who work hard at work worth doing. This, my friends is work worth doing.

Remember your noble calling, teachers. May tears never extinguish the spark in our hearts to make this world a better place one student at a time.

dedicated to my friend, Suzie Nestico - you are my hero. Keep the faith and keep going. I'll see you when I keynote at PETE&C in a few weeks.
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