It has been a while…
In fact, it has been a year since I last wrote something. Almost a year since I really used Twitter.
I wasn’t against these things. I am not anti-writing, anti-Twitter, anti-social media. In fact, I learned more on Twitter than I did through so many other academic medias.
Here is what happened...my last post was called “Every Child’s Story Matters” --- I wrote that post wanting to share with other educators the idea that each child, every one, matters. That their stories matter, and it is our job to know them.
Yet after a week went by I logged onto Blogger...not to write something new, but to see how many people read my blog. How many likes did I get on Twitter. How many people shared it with others. Then the thought hit me...What am I doing?
I went into education for one reason, and one reason alone...I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to help students gain a better sense of self-efficacy, a better idea of who they are, to reach newer heights and to one day look in the mirror and see the person they always dreamed of becoming. Idealistic? Maybe, but it was and is the truth I hold on to.
It was on my couch, with my chromebook in hand, as I was checking the number of likes I had received when I faced a very harsh truth...I was making it about me. While I meant every word I had written in the past, and still do to this day, there was a moment when I crossed the invisible line from sharing a love of teaching with others to self-promotion, and the focus shifted from students to me.
I was meeting with some colleagues one morning when one of them used the word “EduCelebrity” --- For those of you who have not heard of this term, here is how it was explained to me: In essence, it is an educator, who through the educational lens, has become famous or popular by sharing all they do and all they believe with others. Now, I was not, nor will I ever be, someone who was at that status. Yet, if I was honest, a year ago, I would have thought that sounded pretty great. That of course….well, for me anyway...is a major problem.
As educators, I truly believe our primary calling is to put others before ourselves. We are in the service business, and one that requires our full attention. We are not producing products or creating ways to make more money. We live to love and serve our students in order to help them be the best people they can be. It’s not about us, never has been, and I don’t think it ever should be.
The problem lies in our culture today. We live in a self-focused world. Facebook, Instagram, dating cites, about me pages, Twitter, Voxer, and so many other sites I don’t even know about...they are self promoting machines. We strive to share our stories and our image, we take photos of ourselves and then share that photo with others...Why do we do this? I can’t imagine my father watching me as a child learning how to ride a bike, stop...run over just as I make it a few feet on my own, all to make sure he got a selfie next to me to share with all his friends - #learningtorideabike - in order to see how many people like that moment. That never used to be a thing, and now? We have to share our moments with everyone. Our world, our culture, is self-promoting and self-focused...and you know what? It’s addicting. So addicting in fact that I took what was an innocent learning tool, and found a way to make it all about me.
I am not trying to be negative or ridicule anyone... Yet, think about this for a moment. Our children are being raised in a world where parents are quick to take photos of their children’s defining moments, only to share them with other adults in order to make the parents look and feel good. Not the kids. Yet, we tell ourselves we just want to stay connected, but is that really the motivation? If we are honest?
Even more challenging...think about this for a moment. What if we had teachers and educators who were taking photos of their students, telling stories about the difference they make, and sharing that with the world for the same reasons? To promote themselves as the educator…
Here is the question I faced one year ago...Am I using media to learn and grow in order to help my students? Or, am I using media to promote myself, only disguising it as being connected and sharing for the good of a learning community?
My answer was simple...It was ultimately about me. Not that I was doing anything wrong. Not that I wasn’t fighting for my students every day. Yet, when the need to see how many people liked a Tweet overtook my need to learn, it was time for a break. One year later, I am ready to connect to learn once again.
I share this with the heart of reflection. Not to ridicule, or point the proverbial finger at others, but to simply ask that you take a moment and reflect. It was amazing how much time my mind was away from the things that are truly most important...Faith, family, friends and students. It was amazing how often I checked my phone to see likes or what people might have shared that may have impacted me.
I have learned so much from others on Twitter, blogs and other media outlets. I loved being connected to other educators who wanted to share ideas and help me think critically about what we do each day. Yet, it took a year away for me to understand that there is a very real invisible line that separates a life about others and a life about myself.
I love being an educator. It’s challenging, and it requires a selfless love that is difficult to live in each day. However, it’s truly worth it. I have missed being connected to other educators, missed reading the amazing stories of student triumphs and ideas shared. Yet I needed a new lens in place that was formed by taking a step back and remembering what education is all about...our students - Just like it should be.