“They Don’t Get It”

cc licensed flickr photo by alykat: http://flickr.com/photos/alykat/5795069/

In the last 8-9 months, I have really been involved in getting to know so many educators from all over the world, through Social Media. This has been through mediums such as Twitter and my blog, along with the “Connected Principals” website.  My knowledge in several areas, has grown a tremendous amount through not only connecting with information, but more importantly people.

The problem is, if you are reading this, you probably already get that.  You are probably just as connected as I am.  You probably read through tweets, blog posts, and other information that will help you become a better educator.  So what about the people in our schools that are not connecting?  How do we help them along

I have heard several of my administrator colleagues talk about other principals and educators saying that, “they don’t get it”, when talking about Social Media.  I would be the first to admit that I was in that same category not that long ago.  I did not understand what the “fuss” was about and why so many were talking about the benefits of connecting with others through the Internet.  What it took for me, was some persistence from colleagues (and even family) before I started even using technology as a way to connect with others.  However, I did not benefit immediately, as it was hard to go into this unknown world.  I had many others guide and work with me along the way.  Through that persistent and consistent help that I had from others, I got the hang of it and I have seen more growth in myself in the last year, than I have had in the ten prior.

Now though, I do my best to help and connect others to Social Media.  I have a significant amount of my staff blogging, tweeting, and trying several different things to learn from others around the world.  I have also started to connect with other educators around the world and started giving them the push.  I have tried my best to walk along with them through their journey, offering and giving support every step along the way.  I was also extremely proud to see several other of my educators interested in learning more about the impact of Social Media on themselves and their students.  Proudly, we started our own PLC that will continue throughout the school year.

My focus as an educator has always been on the best interest of kids.  Not on only the kids in my school, but all kids.  I have worked in several different schools and have connected with thousands of students.  They are ALL great and they all deserve a chance to reach their full potential.  By helping others, are we not helping all kids?

So the focus here is different from my “Open Letter to Administrators” that urged other principals to get involved in social media.  Regretfully, this post should have come first.  This is to those that already “get” social media and have used it to improve their own learning.  Not just administrators, but all educators.  How are you helping those get out into the unknown?  How are you guiding them and helping them consistently in their practice?  I would love for you to share how you have helped other educators into this foreign territory.  Not only for my benefit, but for the benefit of all those that take the time to read this.  Saying “they don’t get it”, doesn’t help our students or push education forward.  It is not enough nor does it help.

Ultimately, the beneficiaries of this will be our students.  Is that not where we want to make the biggest impact?

8 Comments

  1. Bob Cader said:

    George,
    You have two distinct issues. FIrst, adoption. Adoption happens in the population gradually as technology penetrates our surroundings. It is mostly a matter of choice, but not entirely. Second, knowledge. I think the best analog I can offer is informed judgement. Let’s say we have a student art show to judge and as head honcho are expected to put on a show of competence. But the problem is that we have no competence in making informed aesthetic judgements. We are informed by our personal taste if we aren’t professionals. Art teachers on the other hand are informed by history, rules, and current developments. They try to put preference to one side and not let it influence them.

    Like it or not, you have learned enough to acquire a professional education. You can’t go back. Sorry. Now you’re in the position of the artist when a layperson says “My seventh grader can do that.” Just pray that adoption comes to your rescue, because knowledge likely won’t.

    September 18, 2010
    Reply
  2. George,

    What you wrote is so true. i was that person about four months. i had a Twitter account but never used it. Then at an in-service in June someone showed me the benefits as an educator about using Twitter. In just four months I have started blogging I have sent almost 900 tweets. I have also developed an amazing PLN including educators, business leaders and people from all walks of life that I would have never thought that I would have anything to do with just 4 months ago. Perhaps one of the most surprising things is that people actually are interested in what i have to say. i have gotten a lot of positive feedback to my blog as well have over 550 followers on Twitter.
    My next goal is to get the other administrators and teachers at my school to get more involved in using twitter and other social media.
    It has been an uphill battle. Just the other day I heard someone comment why does this person want to show here district supervisor the power of Twitter. I remember thinking at that moment that she just doesn’t get it

    Thanks for all your posts I have enjoyed learning from you
    Akevy

    September 19, 2010
    Reply
    • It is really hard for people to understand the impact unless they are immersed. The best plan is to just work through it with them and show the benefit. Through being supportive, we can really make an impact. I have really enjoyed connecting with you as welll 🙂

      September 20, 2010
      Reply
  3. George,

    What you describe is something that I’ve heard often again and again once people “get It”. However, another thing I’ve come across is that there is a learning curve that takes place where you begin to realize that, unless you have no other life but through social media, you won’t be able to sustain the variety of things that you begin to do. You begin to mature and develop more sophisticated approaches to using these tools. You also begin to realize that, because there is life beyond here, you need to be selective in what you do. You don’t read EVERY blogpost in your RSS, you don’t have time – you begin to cull what you read and look for new and, sometimes, uncomfortable opinions, so they stretch what you are thinking and doing. I no longer spend the hours and hours I use to online – I can’t with a family, job commitments, community commitments, coaching commitments and other parts of life that are extremely important to keeping a balance. So now, instead of encouraging people to try this and that, I talk with them about what they are doing, try to find a passion they might have and then, through some discussion get them reading and using the internet, moving them towards a more sustainable use of social media and integration into their lifestyle. I do this with teachers, parents, friends, family and anyone whom gives me an opportunity. As I look at the amount of new requirements for teachers in my province, I realize that, as an educational leader, I have a responsibility to help the teachers to manage the demands being asked of them and their time. Many of the social media opportunities are wonderful experiences but can also be overwhelming and without effect.

    So, my plan of action is to introduce teachers to a tool that can be used and lead to further discussion of what are the possibilities. I also have particular tools, like the school wiki, that I encourage and help teachers use and become comfortable navigating, urging them to explore such tools for themselves, offering ideas to help them use it to connect with parents. I will eventually introduce the staff to online bookmarking and then begin to set up groups where we, as a staff, can begin to collect information that we can use. This use of online bookmarking will then expand to teachers using online bookmarking with classes to share material and gather information. Blogging isn’t something I push as there are other ways to share with parents other than a blog – some really good class management systems allow for communication with the parents in a more structured manner, moving teachers into a comfort zone that can be linked to doing blogging, if they decide on that option.

    It’s personal, directed and planned as, for all the teachers with whom I work, their lives are filled with family, work, community and other commitments. To bring about change in such a setting one must ascertain the needs of the people and begin to fulfill them before venturing forward. If the people aren’t ready, resistance is certain, failure is probable.

    September 20, 2010
    Reply
    • Kelly,

      You have hit on an important point about balance. You are right that people need to take care of other commitments in their lives so that they are neglectful. Balance also comes in the form that we have to improve as professionals as well to best suit our student needs. Being excessive in anything is not helpful.

      I appreciate your comment.

      September 20, 2010
      Reply
  4. Scott McLeod said:

    George, you said, “How are you helping those get out into the unknown? How are you guiding them and helping them consistently in their practice?”

    Here at CASTLE, we decided 2 years ago to see what would happen if we concentrated INTENSIVELY on our new home state. Since then we’ve done almost 200 presentations, workshops, institutes, technology boot camps, etc. We’ve done statewide technology leadership training with the School Administrators of Iowa (SAI), we’ve worked with most of the Area Educational Agencies (AEAs), we’ve gone out to individual school districts (no matter how tiny), we’ve served on statewide task forces… Basically we go anywhere we can as often as we can, and we never turn down an opportunity to spark a conversation with educators, school board and community members, policymakers, etc. We have a column in the SAI newsletter, we’re a critical connection point for the 1:1 laptop districts in the state, and we’re even making some limited inroads into higher ed. In addition, we also are starting to make inroads in regions of Minnesota (and, hopefully, Wisconsin) as they become interested in the statewide training series we’ve created here in Iowa. Plus we do a lot of sporadic workshops and keynotes all across the country (and, sometimes if we’re lucky, overseas!). Between all of this face-to-face professional development, our webinars, our blogs, our Twitter accounts, and our other online resources, we’re impacting a whole heckuva lot of folks in the field. Directly, not indirectly. We know, ’cause we hear from them every day. Next up, reviving our School Technology Leadership graduate coursework!

    September 20, 2010
    Reply
  5. malcolm said:

    Below is an email i received from a concerned parent after meeting face to face to dicuss her concerns about the introduction of blogging and twitter into the class .

    Dear Malcolm,

    Thank you for taking time today to meet with M and me
    and helping us get clarification on the Twitter issue.

    I think the biggest stumbling block was trying to understand how
    you hoped to integrate Twitter into the lessons. We get it, now.

    M and I still have our reservations about the privacy and
    security aspects, as well as the whole notion of promoting this
    medium to adolescents.

    Ultimately, it is really K’s decision.
    I debriefed her on our discussion, but I think she is still a bit
    hesitant.

    I would appreciate if you let her figure this out. And, as
    discussed, if she opts not to participate, you will support
    her in that decision.

    For me the key is a good explanation that these platforms are, first and foremost, only tools for expressing what we have learned in class, and to share what we have learned. Keep it simple.

    The potential is amazing…but not everyone will find their tech potential…so for me we will focus on getting good with 2 tools (blog and twitter) and everything else is bonus.

    The parents (and admin) need to know that we are still the teachers and will teach our kids the curriculum. The technologies are new tools.

    Malcolm

    September 20, 2010
    Reply

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