“This is nothing special…”
“Others have done this better…”
“Who am I to share…”
How many of us have thought or even spoken sentiments such as these as we have published our ideas, spoken up at staff meetings, or even invited a colleague in. The imposter syndrome is real and I think many of us live it.
While we can all agree that we should know better, sometimes our own voice shouts louder than those who are thankful for the ideas we share. This is how I felt writing my new book, Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration. Who was I to share on global collaboration? Who was I to tell others how they could integrate technology in a seemingly more meaningful way to empower their students? Who was I to say that I knew something about this, after all, I am not the only one doing just this. And yet…
We are never the only ones doing something. There are very few original ideas in the world. Instead we live in a world that creates off of each other, that shares wildly so that more good can come of it. Integrating technology tools to create more meaningful experiences seems easy because it is. We do not need millions of dollars worth of new technology to collaborate with the world, that just makes it easier, instead what we need are just a few simple tools.
So you start with Twitter…
Perhaps it is a classroom account, perhaps it is your own personal one. You create purposes for the tweets you send. For example, when a child finishes a book, you search to see if the author is on Twitter and then you send them questions, compliments, perhaps even needle them for some sequel information. Imagine the deeper understanding that happens when a child realizes that this author is a human being who has more thoughts they would like to share. Even if the author doesn’t reply you can still see what they tweet about and discover a whole new dimension to them. Sometimes helping a child get hooked on a book happens after they have read it and they all of a sudden see the person being the experience they just had.
Or you go to Twitter and you ask for people to become your audience for something your students have created. Perhaps they are speeches, perhaps they are nonfiction picture books, perhaps you need others to Skype in live to be judges for a poetry slam. Whatever it is, you ask for others to sign up and they agree. Or you go to Twitter and you invent a hashtag surrounding a common purpose like Karen Lirenman and her students did when they asked others to take a picture of the view out of their classroom window and share it with the world. People did and her students learned that our views look quite different.
Perhaps you ask others what the temperature is. Perhaps you ask others to be your editors. Perhaps you create a story only told through tweets. Perhaps you ask for experts to connect with your classroom so that your students can understand something more deeply. Perhaps you ask for help in solving a challenge or ask for a recommendation or send out challenge questions to others. Perhaps you ask for a longer partnership to occur between your classrooms because so many other people out there are probably teaching the same curriculum as you are.
Perhaps Twitter is not your tool of choice. Perhaps it seems like a waste of time, or scary, or perhaps you are not quite sure how to use it. That is okay too. This is not a post heralding the power of Twitter, instead this is a post talking about connecting with others. Because this is what is easy in regard to global collaboration; finding others. But you won’t know that until you start asking.
So find your tool and find out how you can make what you are already doing more meaningful, more powerful, more engaging for the kids you teach. How can you give them the power to connect with others so that they can see the relevance of the work they do? How can you impact the world, but even more importantly, how can the world impact your students?
We speak of creating more empathetic human beings, of the power vested in us as the creators of the future. We speak of creating deeper learning opportunities but then run out of time when it comes to bringing the world in. We run into filters and restrictions. We run into our own nervousness, our own fragility when it comes to taking risks. But I am here to tell you; embedding global collaboration throughout what you already do is not hard, it may take time, and thought, and planning, but doesn’t all great teaching? So pick a tool, look at what you already do and ask; how can bringing others in make this better? What can others bring to this process to make it more meaningful? Then trust yourself and try. You will never look back once you do.
I am currently working on a new literacy book. The book, which I am still writing, is tentatively Passionate Readers and will be published in the summer of 2017 by Routledge. I also have a new book coming out December, 2017 called Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration, a how-to guide for those who would like infuse global collaboration into their curriculum. So until then if you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.