Back in October’s #edcampdallas, we had the great fortune of meeting Todd Nesloney (@TechNinjaTodd), who had driven down from Waller, Texas. He & his ninja counter part Stacy, (@TechNinjaStacey) were so enthusiatic and engaged throughoutthe day, they decided to go back and host their own #edcampWaller. It was a resounding success.
Much like Matt Gomez (@MattBGomez), Todd is a forward thinking, take charge kinda teacher and has been featured by many as one to follow, specifically in the realm of flipped classrooms. I asked Todd to do a guest post about his leadership on his campus and what results he’s seen. He’s a charismatic speaker and innovater…but he backs it up with phenomonal classroom results.
Thanks for the post, TNT!
I’ve been teaching for 6 years. Before that I worked four years at an elementary school as a classroom aide (as part of the “Grow Your Own” program) while I attended Texas A&M University. And before that I worked at an elementary school while I was in high school as part of the “Ready, Set, Teach” program. In those 11 years I have never learned as much as I have this past school year when I finally decided to step up and take charge of my own professional development.
Teachers are Leaders. The sad thing though, is that many of us don’t see ourselves as that. Sure we view ourselves as leaders of our classroom, but when it comes to helping out other teachers or other schools we sometimes feel very inadequate. Over the past 9 months, the number one thing I’ve learned is that there are far more exceptional people in education than I ever realized. Once I joined and became active on Twitter (in June of 2012) I found a wealth of knowledge, experience, ideas, and creativity from many of my new connections. It energized me. It lit a fire I haven’t had since before I started teaching.
So often as teachers we get bogged down by all the rules, procedures, and paperwork. We also can get derailed by those “Negative Nellies”. Those people who are so convinced that education can never be fixed and therefore they’ve given up. I was almost one of those people. Four years into my teaching career I was ready to quit. I was preparing my students for a test because the state and my district wanted great scores. I was shoving problem after problem after problem down my students throats. I was teaching them how to take a test. And in the process I was looking like an excellent teacher because my students were scoring exceptionally well! But I was dying inside. I view myself as a game changer. Someone who thrives on pushing boundaries and trying new and exciting ideas. But I turned into this robot who was making my students into test taking robots. I hated it.
Then I heard about the Flipped Classroom, Project Based Learning, and Twitter. And my eyes were opened. I decided no longer would I listen to those who said the only way you could get kids to be successful was to teach the test. I was no longer going to listen to those who said my ideas were too outlandish and that I needed to take a step back. I decided I was going to take charge of my own learning and I was going to forge new paths within my district for the betterment of my students.
For a while I felt very alone. Sometimes when you blaze new trails there are many people that whisper behind your back, that hope you fail, or that constantly tell you your ideas are crazy and it can begin to feel like you’re the only one on a sinking ship. Then I found my PLN (Professional Learning Network) on Twitter.
Through the power and connections of Twitter I was reminded I’m not alone. That out there in Texas and the rest of the country and the rest of the world are educators just like me. Educators who want their students to LEARN not just to take a test. Educators who want to push boundaries, change conventional thinking, and really challenge their students. I found a network of peers who encouraged me, cheered me on, challenged me, and best yet have walked with me through every step of my new endeavors. Have I met many of these people in person? No! But I have met some! And getting to meet these people in person fires you up even more. I now attend every single conference and training I can in hopes of finding more people like me and of course in hopes that I’ll get to hang out with or meet more of my twitter friends. I now even plan my own conferences (EdCampWaller) in hopes of bringing even more great minds together.
And better yet, these new endeavours and connections haven’t only benefitted me, they’ve also benefited my students! Now my students are getting these fun and engaging lessons that I’ve heard about from other educators. My students are getting to connect with other classrooms from all around the world. And best of all, guess what, since I refused to teach a test in October of 2012, my scores have increased by 12% to an almost perfect pass rate this year. Who said you have you to teach a test?
So don’t fret. If you’re trying new things and often feel alone, forge ahead! Seek out other educators through Twitter or whatever other avenue! Step outside your comfort zone and you will find a world of encouragement and learning that you couldn’t have ever even dreamed of. Take charge of your learning and lead the way!