In my opinion of the advancements in education, technology and many important areas have to do with sharing. In fact, when I think about the advancements I have made in my career, I can relate almost everything I have ever learned to the concept of sharing and open communication with others. This isn’t limited to the sharing of lesson resources alone – but on a larger scale that includes the sharing of ideas, feedback, problem solving and open communication with friends, colleagues and and other grad students.
Steve Johnson’s Ted Talk titled, Where Good Ideas Come From speaks to the importance of collaborating with others and sharing ideas. He draws attention to the importance of not only sharing good ideas, but how sometimes talking about problems or what my kids and I call in the classroom “speed bumps” can often lead to new and noteworthy ideas or innovations.
I believe a popular misconception, at least for me, is that often a good idea is a sudden light bulb reaction that happens out of nowhere, or so it seems. However, Johnson’s Ted Talk addresses the fact that often good ideas are built over long periods of time. Johnson had me thinking about the push companies like Google make for employees to have 20% release time from their regular duties just for to focus on generating new ideas. It’s an interesting concept but one I can really see the value in. When I think about my own workday, I am so stressed for time and literally make too many minute by minute decisions to think about much else. That is why I can really appreciate the common prep time given aside from teaching to share, discuss new teaching resources and problem solve with other grade alike teachers within my school. It’s not google – but I always walk away learning something new from someone else.
This common prep time set aside regular work, or even regular prep times is built with sharing and collaboration in mind. We often share and develop new teaching projects, ideas, problem solve or share interesting PD resources with one another. We may be in a different category then Google, however this time does benefit my learning as an employee and as a result has an impact on my performance which is in turn good for my employer. A key factor in creating a culture of sharing between educators is providing time and opportunity within the school day to do so and exploring online avenues to explore PD opportunities, including developing your PLN (Professional Learning Network) outside of the school day using tools like Twitter.
However, many teachers are very reserved when it comes to sharing – many who do not share at all – at least in front of an audience. Non-sharing, in my opinion, limits one’s growth and creates a culture of non-collaboration. Why do some people believe not sharing is best for them? Perhaps it’s not an issue of believing what’s best for them, but rather a fear of being ridiculed or judged for their work or ideas. Is it merely an issue of self-confidence? I was once guilty of not sharing my ideas in front of others unless I was literally asked or absolutely had to. I was always open to sharing my resources and what I knew, but avoided being put on the spot in a large meeting to “share” at all costs. As Marley mentions, “There is no need to reinvent the wheel” but rather lets build upon what we already know and whats already out there to take our work to the next level. I preferred to blend into the crowd until a mentor of mine began to highlight my skills and strengths and encourage me to share what I’m doing in the classroom with other teachers. For me, it was the fear of what others thought. What if others don’t agree or like what I have to say? With age, this notion of “What will others think?” became less and less important and my thinking shifting towards the importance of sharing from others. If I could help just one teacher by sharing what I am already doing in the classroom was more meaningful to me then worrying about what others would think.
I think confidence in one’s self is a key issue regarding one’s level of comfort in sharing. Also the more one seeks information to learn, the more like they are to establish a similar sharing attitude. When I began teaching several years ago, I was so grateful for new information, ideas and resources that were shared with me – both by colleagues I
knew, and strangers online from different education resource platforms. The more things I “borrowed” from others, the more obligated I felt to share what I had with other teachers who are looking to learn about a certain subject or needed help. I was much more willing to make suggestions based on what has been shared with me when I noticed a colleague struggling with the same issues I may have already experienced before them. I think of this as my “duty to share” and given the amount of great ideas that have been shared with me, it is my duty to pass them along to others. As Amy so nicely put it in her most recent blog post that “A big part of openness is being adaptable” and I think this is so true. We must be willing to be flexible in our thinking and actions as we learn and grow. I believe that in order for that to happen there needs to be a willingness to accept new ideas and in turn share with others. A culture of sharing is just so critical to developing in our profession.
Speaking of the culture of sharing, as leaders within the school I think sharing is a big part of building your team up and highlighting the strengths of others within the school. Not only does Parkland School Division’s website titled 184 Day of Learning highlights the great work of teachers, but they are also sharing ideas of what quality teaching with their employees. Whether it was their main goal or not – this website makes learning visible and but it always demonstrates the value they place on creating a culture of sharing.
Heather Duncan’s Ted Talk makes reference to the need so “share our secrets” as teachers with others. Within the day, it can feel isolating within our classroom and the need for collaboration and sharing is more important than ever. She emphasizes the need to “break out of our comfort zones” and initiate these conversations with students within our grade groups and then venturing further to meet other teachers.
I enjoyed Christina’s most recent blog post which stressed the importance of focusing in on the basic needs of the student and collaborating with an entire team to ensure the individual student succeeds not only in academics but also in terms of social growth and having their basic needs met. So often I think of sharing in terms of resources for academics, when often the need for sharing entails a holistic approach that addresses the whole child. I spoke about many in-house “key players” in collaboration and appreciate Christina’s reminder about the outside agencies that are often needed to provide proper supports with students – it truly does take a village to raise a child.
Until Next Time!