Recently, Kirsten Olson posted about the influence of the Gates Foundation in getting messages of education reform spread through paid bloggers and investing around $500,000 in spreading these messages. Please read her very important post, We’re Not Getting Paid. Kirsten also points out that at the Cooperative Catalyst we aren’t getting paid for our voices in the education transformation debate. We blog about education transformation because we are passionate about children worldwide become lifelong learners. We have a vision of schools supporting curiosity, creativity, play, and collaboration. However, our messages of education transformation have not spread as much as those sponsored by The Gates Foundation, the media, and politicians.
Current Education Roarers
The reality is that the media and politicians have a firm grounding in marketing and have the money and connections to spread their ideas. They know how to persuade their audiences into supporting their policies. They may only be a few compared to educators but clearly these advantages provide them with the ability to be heard by audiences worldwide and implement various education policies. They spread their messages about what education reform should be, which include “firing teachers and focusing on standardized tests.” These unfortunately are the roars that are being heard worldwide in the movement for education reform. Examples of these messages include the recent Waiting for Superman documentary watched by millions, Michelle Rhee making the cover of Time, and Oprah’s various shows with John Legend and others voicing their opinions about education reform.
These aren’t the voices that the public should be listening to or hearing. Instead, I would love for us, our educator Passionate Learning Network (PLN), to be the voices that are heard.
How We Roar
If every educator in our PLN shared, shared, shared their best practices on social media we wouldn’t be a voice we’d be a roar. Right now over 100,000 educators participate in Social Networks worldwide for professional development (Just check the membership of the various educator Nings, Facebook educator groups, and Educators on Twitter).
I believe our whispers are getting louder, but we can have more impact if we….
Have daily conversations with all stakeholders
Continuous conversations with all educational stakeholders (teachers, students, parents, administrators, community leaders, and support staff) are the way towards positive education transformation. We need to get all sides to listen to each other and collaborate.
The problem is that we aren’t being heard by the majority of society. Parents haven’t seen how we are educating students and preparing them to problem solve and collaborate with technology. Other educators we work side by side with don’t know we blog or read our blogs even if they do. Our progress with students isn’t being noticed by the media only our test scores. Our administrators aren’t seeing the potential of social networks. I’m talking about the majority of our situations. Let’s face it, most educational stakeholders don’t collaborate with us in our social networks. You’ll find them on Facebook, with Youtube accounts, and contributing to social networks for personal reasons but they just don’t collaborate with us.
But we’re growing…
I’ve been on Twitter for 2 years and I can see a movement growing. We are adding educators worldwide to our online educator communities. I believe this is because so many of us are sharing with our school communities. We are providing online professional development, sharing through several social networks, and even getting noticed by different media sources such as Mashable, the Huffington Post, and TV news. I love when my PLN tweets they have been in the news. I tweet these resources because we should spread good press to combat the negative press. These sources are where the majority of society tunes into so we should spread the word and try to get ourselves in these various media outlets.
Share, Share, Share….
We need to have daily conversations with stakeholders and share what we do with our students. We have to be transparent and not be afraid of letting the public step into our classrooms. We need to have faith that what excites us about how our students are learning will excite their parents, our staff, and the public. If we invite stakeholders to see what we do then we get them to evaluate us based on more than test scores. Unfortunately, we will be evaluated by standardized test scores for a long time as we have been for decades. However, if our community knows about the work we do with students then we have other measures in place to show our students development.
Hear Our Voices Rising…
Our ideas for positive education transformation need to be heard. As long as teachers continue to be scapegoats no real education transformation will take place and the millions of children who fail to receive a proper education and enter into poverty will continue to escalate.
So how do we collect the voices in our PLN so we can become a roar?
Several projects have begun that you can participate in to help us become a collective voice:
- Participate in blogging calls such as those organized by the Cooperative Catalyst, Tom Whitby’s REBELS, Ira Socol’s Blogging For Real Reform Challenge, and Scott Mcleod’s annual Leadership Day Blog Challenge
- Join the Youtube Educator Stories project where we are aiming to get over 1000 videos of positive practices
- Participate in the Reform Symposium and other free virtual conference for educators and invite your entire staff to attend
- Participate in educational chats like #Edchat and invite another educator to join. Here’s a list of all educational chats and times by @Cybraryman1
- Join the 30 Goals Challenge and learn how to use social networks to spread your best practices! Invite teachers new to online educator communities to join this free community of mentors and read the free e-book.
- Share all these free presentations with your community and invite teachers, students, administrators, and community leaders. It’s time we had conversations with all stakeholders.
- Create news blurbs about your innovative practice and share with the local media. Often they are looking for stories and if they can film you and your students they will jump at the opportunity. Ask several till one says yes! Here are some tips for getting on the news!
- Send out media waivers and publish your work in a wiki, blog, or free school website. Share this on your Facebook account or other place where the public has access and can see the great things you are doing!
What other projects do you know of that help educators gain a collective voice for positive education transformation?