The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.
Over the past few years, my focus has been on learning and using educational technology as a teaching tool. During that time, I have had the privilege of attending several #edtech conferences where I have learned techniques that have transformed my teaching. I just returned from an awesome 3 days at MACUL ’14, where I attended sessions on all kinds of edtech strategies of interest to me.
But I’ve also discovered a secret:
Edtech conferences are not actually about edtech.
Don’t be confused — there is plenty of edtech at an edtech conference. I’ve engaged in sessions on everything from Chrome to scripting with Google Drive, from useful digital tools to creating iTunesU courses, from screen-casting to blended learning to online learning. It’s exhausting to think about how much I’ve learned over the last three years alone. With “love of learning” as one of my core strengths, I soak it all up and bask in the brainstorming, sharing of knowledge, demonstrations, and teaching.
Yet the biggest learning experience for me has been discovering the philosophy of the edtech people, the people I call “my people” (I also call Star Wars people my people, and luckily there are also several of those at edtech conferences as well).
Edtech people see possibilities. They see potential — the potential of education, the potential of students, and the potential of teachers to shape and change lives.
Instead of focusing on what teachers aren’t doing, edtech people focus on the good things teachers are doing. They celebrate the risks that teachers take using technology with their students. They support and encourage teachers who are willing to try.
Edtech people say, “Just try it and see how it goes. We’re here if you have questions. And good for you for wanting to do this for your students!” If you knew how often I’ve heard about what I MUST be doing on a daily basis with lesson planning, you’d understand how great it feels to be appreciated for learning something of value.
Edtech people like to share. Instead of competing with each other and keeping resources to themselves (which our current teacher-evaluation system promotes), they encourage share-and-share-alike. If you’re doing something that works, they promote what you’re doing. They go out of their way to share your story.
Instead of saying “you need to be doing more,” edtech people say “we know how hard you’re working” and “you are making a difference.” They recognize and trust teachers as highly-educated professionals.
Edtech people don’t make excuses. They don’t talk incessantly about theory. They put their energy into building instead of tearing down. They produce change.
Edtech conferences are all about creating change, from a single lesson or strategy, to an individual teacher, to the entire business of teaching and learning. They do so by bringing in educators who support, encourage, collaborate, and respect. They bring in people who want to build the new.
It’s a philosophy that is heartening and too often missing in the daily lives of teachers; it’s why I consider myself an edtech person and keep going back for more.