Let's face it. Being a forward-thinking teacher does not make us popular in the schoolyard. I thought I was the only one. There are not many teachers at my site who choose to seek out professional development and implement newer practices in their classrooms. In fact, with a teaching staff of over 130 teachers at my site, perhaps 10% have started integrating devices in their classrooms.
People ask me what I learned at the Google Teacher Academy this past December and my first answer is:
I am not the only one!
It turns out most sites are like mine. There are a few teachers who experimenting with all sorts of fun and new things that have students engaged and interested in ideas rather than grades. Many other teachers at GTA and then also at EdCampLA described their own sites as the one I described above. There is no doubt about it, we are pioneers in a very wild-west education world. Essential technology that our students will depend on later in their lives is being invented every moment and it is really hard to keep up. In fact keeping up with changing apps, equipment, software, and ideas would take teachers hours each day to read up on. I spend a lot of time in my classroom checking Twitter, creating lesson plans, updating websites, and applying for grants and fellowships. I learned early on that I shouldn't share too much about what I am doing with teachers at my site because a lot of teachers don't want to hear it. I don't get out. I should. Yes, I get lonely. It turns out a lot of us do.
Staying holed up and not wanting to rock any boats does not make us popular.
But then I go to events like GTA, EdCampLA, OCCUE, CUE and other events and I am in my Element with my Tribe. Do I know many of them well? No, although I'm starting to. But you know what? I can go to any group, participate in any conversation, bring up any idea and be totally confident that no one will look at me sideways or tell me that that's fine but...
We may be lonely at our sites for a while yet but we are each other's community. It is important to remember that we need to be each other's champions in our profession. Congratulate those who are recognized. Respond to a "HELP!" tweet. Ask how someone else is doing, for no reason. Attend conferences with others, more importantly, invite someone from your site to the conference.
We may not be popular at work but we are popular with each other. Find and give the inspiration.