Over the past few years, I have seen some remarkable changes sprout up in the educational landscape. Conversations around improving the student learning environment began outside classrooms, in staff rooms, and at professional development workshops and conferences. Assessments, grading, curriculum and testing were all greatly discussed with hopes of moving our 19th century educational systems and institutions into the 21st century. In 2006, twitter changed how we connected and moved the conversations out of our immediate spheres of influence and into a global perspective. In some classrooms, schools and districts, this moved beyond conversations and into the realm of action as tiny sprouts of change grew on this newly fertile educational landscape. Problem-based learning, standards-based learning/grading, and curriculum aligned with the concepts of what a literate 21st Century citizen should be, all began to take a hold on the soil, nurtured by further conversations, support and shared through the new media. This connected more educators together as they shared their knowledge, experiences and thoughts on what education should be (or in the words of Will Richardson, Why School?).
Lately, however, I am starting to feel some doubt and trepidation around whether or not any successful educational change is possible. Recently I lurked through the tweets of Doug Robertson (@TheWeirdTeacher), Douglas Green (@drdouggreen) Jena Ball (@JennaiaMorane) and Kelly Chistopherson (@kwhobbes) as they discussed how to move forward (I more than lurked, but their conversation was fascinating without my input).
— Doug Robertson (@TheWeirdTeacher) November 11, 2014
This particular tweet jumped out at me. It spoke to the act now philosophy with the ‘ask for forgiveness, not permission’. It revived a small sprout of change that I had neglected for some time. But it also spoke to me that teachers are doing remarkable things in their classrooms that are hidden from the sunlight.
I have, for the past 14 years, been working through different theories on Institutional Change. In almost every one of the multitude of theories on change, there are definite needs to create positive, lasting change. And, sadly, a strong leader is not one of them, not in the historic sense, anyway. Change happens because one person plants a seed and nurtures it until it is strong enough to be shown the sunlight. If enough people see it, and recognise it as being positive to their own lives, more sprouts will emerge. Soon, an entire garden arises from that one idea, changing the landscape in a lasting way.
Social media (and in particular, twitter) is helping me find those tiny sprouts. I look at them; I test whether or not I should support their growth. If they are something I see as a positive change in student learning (and it all comes back to that), I tell my small circle within my PLN, hoping someone else will see its value and nurture it further.
The goal, then, is to find those weeds and bring them into the light. Share what you do with your colleagues, friends, followers and circles. Who knows, you may be tending to the one flower that can change the world! So, do what you do and share it, as a connected educator.
(This post may have been influenced by the bulbs I just planted in boxes on my deck. Hopefully, these will grow into beautiful daffodils and tulips in the Spring)