While perusing Twitter this morning, I came across a link to a post by George Couros entitled, “It’s Possible“. As I read his post, it made me think about the perceived barriers in our schools and the message George brings. Much of my work as an Innovation Coordinator is to strategically break down those very barriers. What I’m finding is that, even though I can question our practices and structures, many of the barriers I’m finding have more to do with mindset and simply not knowing what’s possible. It’s not a matter of teachers being lazy or not wanting to do the work. Far from it. By and large educators are more than willing to do the work, they may just need guidance or a thinking partner because, regardless of their initiative, doing it alone (or even in a team) is a daunting task when you are working with kids in a classroom every day. However, it’s not impossible when you find those strategic partners.
So what is possible and how do you find those ideas? Who can help me and what is it we want to accomplish? As I think about the way that I support teachers and librarians, my first inclination is to always try to connect them with others that have similar goals or expertise in the area. I encourage them to take their ideas and tweak them based on what they learned or based on the partnerships they’ve formed with their connections. Sometimes that means providing funding for opportunities for teachers to attend PD. More often, it means bringing awareness to the free or low cost opportunities that already exist. Sometimes these opportunities change lives. I distinctly remember one of my teachers attending EdCampStL and coming away with such a fire for teaching that she put retirement off because she was too excited about the possibilities.
More than anything, as a leader, I have to remember what my capacity is for assisting them in their endeavor. I must build capacity with those I’m helping and assist them as I can but not necessarily be one of the main players. When I’m honest with myself, this is challenging for me. I’m an educator. I want to help and be a part of great things for kids. I want to foster curiosity in adults to make those thing happen but I can’t and won’t be everywhere. My work has changed dramatically over the last 3 years and I have to recognize my capacity to do the work.
Everyone of us has a role and we all need each other to make it, whatever it may be, possible.
George closes his piece with the statement:
The thing that is often holding us back is ourselves. Once we realize that we can create something better, we often do better.
So what’s holding us back. How can we, as educators realize that we may be the ones holding ourselves back and move beyond that to do great things? This work is hard, it’s rewarding, and most importantly, it’s vital. The next opportunity that you have, help someone realize the possibilities. It’s worth it for everyone.