I want to start my post this week with a true story about how sharing has helped me. I used to carry all of my teaching files back and forth between school and home on an external hard drive. A couple of years ago I arrived at school in January and plugged my trusty drive into my laptop at school to find…..nothing. Nothing at all. I tried not to panic and quickly headed home (a mere 7 blocks) to plug it back into my home computer, I must have just unplugged it without “removing safely” and I would definitely be able to access my files at home still. Unfortunately, I arrived at home and again…nothing. I was ready to cry. I demanded of my husband he was to take my drive to Regina (2 hours away), find a good tech person, and have them recover my files. I specifically remember telling him I didn’t care how much it cost him. I was 2 weeks away from the end of my semester, I was finishing making my final exams, and I did not want to start from scratch. I considered quitting if my files were all gone.
I headed back to school with intense anxiety. I went to my teacher friends and shared my life-shattering morning and that is when my passion for sharing came in handy. I had completely forgotten that at the beginning of the year I had a “sharing party” with several of my colleagues and we had shared all of our teaching files back and forth. I hadn’t lost EVERYTHING, just some of the newer files and some of the edits I had made during the past semester. Even though it wasn’t all of the files I had been looking for to work off of to edit my final exams, I had the majority of what I wanted. Because I was willing to share my resources, it actually came back to help me when I lost everything.
Sharing. It is one of the first social skills that we learn and probably one of the first that we fail at as well. So much of our world and our society is built on the sharing of resources, ideas, and skills, its impossible to imagine our world without it.
Steven Johnson talks about Where Good Ideas Come From, describing the beginning of the Enlightenment which occurred in coffee shops to the development of GPS as a side curiosity of two scientists. Johnson’s talk really appealed to me: I like coffee, I love hanging out in coffee shops, and history is of great interest to me. This is all great but what was most interesting was his opinion that we need to spend time connecting our ideas instead of always just protecting them.
Sharing is my way of life in education. I made a video that describes how I use sharing in my everyday teaching and life.
As mentioned in the video, one of my favourite types of professional development is to sit in a room of educators with a common subject area or group of students and talk. Talk about lesson ideas, behaviour ideas, education ideas. I always leave these sessions feeling energized and excited to go back to my students and implement the ideas that I have gained or shared in creating.
Not everyone is as enthusiastic to share their ideas, many people are afraid that they will be judged or that their work is not “good enough” to be shared with others. This is where Derek Sivers‘ video Obvious to You: Amazing to Others is imperative and meets with Johnson’s talk. If we do not share our ideas with others, even if they are not fully formed yet, we are not able to continue our personal growth and realization. This can be even more difficult in a society where everything that you put online is there forever and searchable. This is why the culture of sharing, adapting, and remixing is important to develop. Many teachers and educators are ready and willing to share and start this revolution, in fact, many of them already have, but there are many who do not know HOW.
Finding a platform to share what I have created is one of my biggest barriers. I have tried many different platforms and have not fully been happy with any of them but, as mentioned in my video, I feel that has more to do with my perceived lack of connection to others and I need to work on ensuring that I am still putting myself out there. I believe that this is also one of the things that is a barrier to creating the culture of sharing online as so many people are not sure HOW to share their work and so they don’t, they end up hoarding it, not because they want to, but because they do not know how to put it out to the online world.
What types of platforms have you used to share your work? Do you find that some platforms are better than others? In what ways can you support your colleagues in learning to share online?
To finish my hard drive dilemma, apparently, they are definitely not made to be hauled around in a teacher bag…they are not that durable. And, The Computer Clinic in Regina saved me and (for a very reasonable price) they were able to retrieve all of my files!
**Sorry this is a little late…I am having issues with my internet this week…ugh.