Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Don’t Give Up Hope

In Courageous Online But Still Cowardly Lion in my School from Blogush, Paul Bogush states,

“So why don’t I ask people in my school for help? Because right now I am on a different path. I have already been on their path. I have seen where it leads. I want to travel on a path less traveled, and I don’t know anyone who wishes to join me, or know anyone who has walked down it…My online “friends” and I share a common belief. A common vision. A common dream. Online people push me to travel further down my path. They warn me about the dangers ahead. They support me when I fall. But most importantly, they never, ever, tell me to turn back. They push, pull, and cheer me onward. The inspire me with their words, actions, and comments. They are the ones I want to be like. I have 100’s of online role models and consider myself very lucky to be in their company.”

When I read that, it made me sad to realize that I felt like that often too. Then I hoped that I was one of those online people that Paul talks about. And if I am one of those people, then there are people that feel this way too but they may be closer to me than just online. Maybe we just don’t know how to find each other. I realized this when I attended the local technology conference last week. When it first started four years ago, there were only 200 people attending. This year there were 1000 participants. It may be slow but the growth is there. Hopefully like the ripple in the water, it will continue to grow. If each one of these participants share and teach someone else, then the effects will be felt on a wider scale. Maybe next year, even more people will be able to attend.

At the conference, someone told me that they didn’t even feel like they were making a difference. At first I felt disheartened when I heard this. Then I realized it was up to me to give them hope, just like Paul talks about. We were sitting there face to face, not online and I had a chance to give someone the support that others have given me. I had to make sure this person understood that we are making a difference, little by little. Maybe we won’t see the results today or tomorrow or even next year. But somewhere down the road, we will have made an impact and we are changing the world. I see the effects I had on lives over twenty years ago when former students contact me and let me know how I made a difference in their lives. It is stories like this that gives me hope. It makes me realize that we have to keep pushing the people around us, not just our online friends who have the “common dreams” we do. We have to “push, pull, and cheer” the ones who don’t have the same dreams we do. Otherwise we become stagnant or possibly lose any ground that has been made in getting people to think differently. We can make a difference and we cannot give up hope. Eventually people around us will have the common vision and dream as us.

Original image: 'Maui Wowie!' http://www.flickr.com/photos/46042146@N00/618971656 by: Randy


suzanne31381 said...

Pat, I felt myself agreeing with Paul as well. Now I must say, "Here, here!" to you, too. There are finally a few people here in my district teaching the way that all my online peers talk about and the way I'm trying to -- it's just difficult for us to find each other. We are slowly beginning to connect now and I'm trying to be part of making that happen. I even tried to start a voluntary cohort or PLC of sorts for us geeky teachers because I was so lonesome in the struggle. (Then I dropped the ball because I got too busy, but hope to pick it up again.)

The reason you're someone I admire (an online hero) is that yes, you have a lot of talent and expertise to share about ed tech, but more than that you always stay positive, even when I myself would be feeling snarky, hopeless or cynical about the same topics. Thank you for that role modeling! I look forward to your posts (and travelogues).

Sraweltz said...

I know exactly what you mean. I get so overwhelmed, and the environment in which I am trying to work seems to be getting worse every year. I could easily leave, like so many before me, but that would not be helping those kids. That is why I started in the Web 2.0 stuff to begin with. I finally am beginning to see something that sparks the interest of otherwise disengaged students.

They told me 9 years ago, when i started teaching, that it was an isolated profession. I thought, you are constantly around people, so how could you be isolated? I am now seeing how. At the high school level, we are all so caught up in our work that we really don't have time to collaborate, and this gives our kids another disadvantage. I thought this conference, and the connections that I have made via the web have been great as far as being able to collaborate with like-minded teachers that I would otherwise not have known.

I wanted to thank you Pat, and all of your comrades for reaching out to a drowning Spanish teacher from the lowcountry!

Paul Bogush said...

Hmmmm....after reading an excerpt from my post with your commentary, it makes see another angle. Sure I may be on another path. Yes I feel as though I walk alone. But when was the last I have stopped to invite someone to come and walk with me. I think I feel so closed down by the immediate people that surround me that maybe, just maybe, their is someone on another floor or grade who is ready to travel on the same path with me. Maybe instead of "push, pulling, and cheering," all I would have to do is ask.
See...you pushed me.

BookChook said...

I believe teaching can be one of the loneliest professions in the world. How wonderful that we now have the internet where we can collaborate with like-minded but distant colleagues, and yes, support and cheer each other on.

loonyhiker said...

@suzanne31381 Thank you for your kind words. I try to stay positive because I feel it helps move me in the right direction. When I get negative, I feel that I only hurt myself more. Thanks for reading my post!

loonyhiker said...

@Sraweltz I think your students are so lucky to have you as a teacher. Your passion for teaching really shows. I enjoyed meeting you and talking to you during the conference!

loonyhiker said...

@Paul: Whether it is reading your blog (which I love reading!) or reading your comments - you always put a smile on my face! Thank you!

loonyhiker said...

@The Book Chook: I have learned so much from my online connections and love to share them with my real life connections! I probably drive them crazy with my excitement about new things I've learned! LOL

BookChook said...

Same here, Pat. I see my friends' eyes glaze over, and my family has banned me from using the "l" word (literacy). Thank goodness there are cyber friends who love to share!