After being hired for my first teaching position, I remember visiting my classroom the summer before that first group of students were to enter Room 7 on the ground floor of Winfield Jr. High. I walked into the building musty with the absence of kids and teachers and made my way to the office to meet the principal who would show me around again and orient me to the building and anyone who happened to be there. Like all first year teachers, I was nervous about what my future would hold. All went well that day and I met my mentor teacher who was there organizing her materials for the upcoming school year. I don’t remember her name but I do remember that during the 30 minutes that I sat with her that day, she gave me more information and materials than I even knew what to do with. At that point, everything was paper and copies of copies of copies that had probably been handed down to her by someone else. As I sorted through the stacks of papers and books, I remember thinking about how thankful I was to have these materials. Sure I was overwhelmed, but I now had stuff to teach with. I had direction. More than anything, I had a friend. Fast forward almost 20 years and that feeling of apprehension still sticks with me. That was a tough year of learning, but it’s also one that set the stage for me for the rest of my teaching career. During that year my colleagues were there to support, push and share with me all the wisdom and experience that they had to offer.
The world of education has changed a great deal since my first steps into room 7, but one thing that I still hold on to is that culture of sharing that was evident during that first year. In today’s world sharing is even more prevalent than it was then. Technology and the internet make sharing ideas, new learning and resources easier than it ever has been.With the click of a button, a file can be sent via email, shared on Google Docs or posted online. Not only does this make it easier to share, but it makes it easier to continue that sharing. When you forward an email, retweet a Twitter message or even “like” something on Facebook, that extends the reach of that initial idea exponentially because then, in turn, someone else may forward, tweet, or “like” it.
So, what does this mean? A few things, first of all, as educators, we share. We share ideas and resources with students, parents and colleagues and must continue to do so. Second, we must ask ourselves what we need to think about when it comes to student’s sharing their own ideas/content/pictures, etc. I think we’re all familiar with the fact that sometimes kids (or adults for that matter) overshare. What conversations and modeling need to occur in order to make sure they’re safe? Can we ignore it? I think not. Should we pretend it doesn’t happen? Please don’t. Sharing is an important part of our culture. Students will share and now that it’s easy, let’s help them know what to share and when to share it. Let’s teach them about digital footprints and the permanency of the internet. Most importantly, let’s not stifle their want to share.
Finally, let’s look at the ways we share and the models that we create for students. Do we share our thoughts behind a password protected area? Yes, sometimes. Do we share in public? I hope so. If you have a resource or an idea that others can benefit from, why not share it publicly? Put it online and post it for other teachers to use and share with their own colleagues and in their own circles. We learn by sharing our stories and our ideas.
Can this whole thing be overwhelming? Sure, but that’s why it’s important for us to keep sharing. We can act as a filter to find the good stuff for others to help streamline the whole process. That’s why we share, we created or found something good and want others to know about it. The culture of sharing is as strong as it was 20 years ago when I was figuring out how to work with the kids who were going to come and expect me to teach. Keep sharing. Openly and courageously. And let’s teach our students to do the same.
Cross posted to Northeast Middle School Friday Flyer