cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Dominic’s pics

Is there any phrase more cliche than “We are at a crossroads”? I googled the phrase and had 22,300,000 hits. So cliche aside, we really are at an interesting time in education. Every day we become more and more aware that we must change the things we do. To make it even more difficult, we realize this in our practices of assessment, discipline, pedagogy, use of technology, professional development, and infrastructure design. Whether it’s the Daniel Pink speaking about motivation, Ken Robinson talking about changing the learning environment, or Will Richardson helping us implement social media in our schools, we have many brilliant men and women out there helping us see where we should be going. So its clear, we need to start (or continue) the change process. However, so many changes in so many areas need to be made, and we live in a society that isn’t ready for radical shifts in a system based so heavily on tradition, a system almost everyone has been through and has formed their own expectations about.

So what should our role be as teachers or administrators when it comes to helping move education forward?

Well before any change can occur, people need to be aware of what needs to change. We need to be professionals that continually strive to improve ourselves, and that includes becoming informed on what education research is saying. We can’t rely on monthly professional development days and annual conferences. We can’t rely on our superintendent or principal to be our experts, providing all the know-how. There is too much going on, and we are going to need leaders throughout our buildings and throughout our school divisions.

How should we stay informed, continually learn and become the leaders our schools, our school divisions and our students need? Well for me Twitter is the answer, and I believe it can be the answer for you as well. If you don’t agree, and you don’t want Twitter to be your source, then I think you need to do the following three things and do them a fierce commitment and tireless diligence – Read, Listen and Share.

Read – Seek out the information and devour it. Read books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, websites, whatever you can find so that you know what is going on.

Listen – Find TED talks, videos, webcasts, radio shows, podcasts and audiobooks to be informed of emerging trends and breakthrough research.

Share – If you find it interesting, share it with your colleague, and find out what they have read or heard.

Twitter or not, if we want to stay relevant, if we want to be part of the movement, we first must stay current and we must do this on our own.

Once we are informed, then we need to defend the science, spread the word, and put the change into action. I don’t suggest that every teacher or administrator go out and change everything they are doing, but I do think that we should take what we learn to heart. If it is something easy to implement, try it tomorrow. If it is a major endeavor, do your homework, talk to colleagues and figure out how you can make it happen together. Start figuring out what you want to see change in your classroom this month, this school year, next school year, within three years, within five years etc. etc. Prioritize by choosing the area or idea that makes you the most excited, so that you will be able to draw on the energy that this change provides. There is a lot going on, and a lot to get excited about. Once you start changing something, talk about it. With your colleagues, on twitter, in a blog, present at a conference, do whatever you can, but share your successes.

The revolution (I just choked on another cliche) isn’t looking for a lot of the “What to do?”, there is TONS out there, this revolution is looking for the “Who’s gonna do it?” and that’s you and me. If you get stuck, find someone to help you get un-stuck (not an English major). For me, I have great people in my PLN and in my division who are quick to remind me that what we may try is great, but there is far more we can do. If you aren’t stuck, connect with a colleague and help them start their own revolution.

I saw the question asked on Twitter in the last couple weeks “When is Education going to have its Egypt moment?” Truth is I don’t think we are going to have one big moment, but rather a groundswell of momentum created by the push of many dedicated educators unwilling to continue with the status quo. I think we’ll see school divisions, policy makers and eventually political leaders embrace the movement. In the end, I doubt we will be able to mark the date in our history books because it will happen gradually, all over the globe. It will start with individuals making a change, in fact, it already has started. So, do you want to be part of it? I know I do, the crossroads for me is in my rear-view mirror.


5 thoughts on “Crossroads

  1. I applaud your commitment to becoming your own expert in education reform, and not relying solely on formal professional development training to bring about change. I think the revolution begins every day in the classroom, and reforms in each of the areas you stated can happen simultaneously.

    I too have found Twitter to be an incredible resource – there is no better network of people to bounce ideas off of than a community of invested, passionate educators.

  2. Nicely said and I completely agree. I think that my crossroads are also behind me but I am trying to show others the start of the path to theirs. Talk, blog, tweet…find a way to stay informed and connected. Great message! Jen

  3. I really enjoyed your post. As professionals, we do have the moral and ethical imperative to “catch the winds of change”. How’s that for a catch phrase? 😉

  4. I enjoyed your post. I didn’t think about Twitter being a source to gain knowledge. I had the feeling Twitter was just a place to talk out loud to see if anyone was listening by the people with the “cool” phones. I didn’t realize the number of educators networking with Twitter. I wouldn’t have found out about using Twitter to be part of a PLN if it wasn’t for my decision to do an online challenge to do a blog for 30day. I am just needing more information with my profession.
    Let’s just say I am now so excited and also overwhelmed with the wealth of information that is Tweeted by the handful of people I am following so far. I think it is like walking out of a dark room into the light. I just haven’t adjusted to the light,yet.
    Thank you for shining a light on the another path for teachers to use to help make change in this world.

  5. Jesse – great post. I echo your thoughts about, change and honor the commitment you have made. I agree the change in education is coming…technology like twitter may drive it, but if we all commit to reading, listening and sharing it will be upon us before we know it.

    What I like best about your post is that you don’t argue that the system needs to be blown up and that we need to start from scratch. While there needs to be shifts in pedagogy, systems sand structures, blowing up a system so ingrained and institutionalized in our culture is not feasible. That said, I like cliches too, and I think we are nearing a “Tipping Point” in education and I for one am very excited about it.

    Thanks for sharing.

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