Here is a guest post by Pernille Ripp. I'm pleased to learn from Pernille both on Twitter and on her blog Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension.
By Pernille Ripp
I could never go back to how I taught before. I could never start talking that much again or assign that much work without losing this newfound passion that now drives me every day. Now when I plan, I constantly ask, what is the goal of my lesson? Why am I choosing to present this to the students rather than something else? How can the students be my partners in learning? How can this be about them and not me? Those simple, yet powerful questions drive me every day as I continue to develop as an educator.
I also could never go back to how I used to learn. The way traditional professional development was introduced to me in college or the network that I lacked. Sure, I do many things differently this year but I am not an expert on any of those, in fact, I am not an expert on anything in life. Therefore the power of being able to connect with others who know so much more than me has been life reinvigorating. I am simply me, and yet with the power of my extended learning network, I am not alone when I share my story. Others join me, support me and scold me as I put it out there; flaws and all, for people to judge, comment, think and perhaps even change. I can only tell you my story in the hopes that it will allow others to share theirs as well. That they will not be afraid to speak about their own paths and journeys even when they veer off the more standard path. That they will have a place to share their voice, their fears, their triumphs and a whole community that will support and accept them.
We must be courageous when we try new things, particularly those that seem to fly in the face of traditional education, fore there are many more critics than supporters. Yet with those critics comes a relevance because if people were not afraid of the changes we propose for the betterment of education than perhaps we are not asking for enough. So although you may find yourself seemingly alone in your own environment, if you reach out, you will be surprised. Others are out there, perhaps not in your own building, but somewhere in the world. Others that will teach you, inspire you, and believe in you when you need it the most. And perhaps, just perhaps, you will find that reaching out to others will make you become a leader in your own right, an inspirer, a supporter, someone whom others look to. Or maybe you will be like me, simply me, someone who is not an expert but who learns and tries to better themselves every day, whether it be through the people at my building or people in my PLN whom I have never met and yet still consider friends and confidantes. Whatever you become, don't give up, you are not alone, there are others out there trying to change the world as well. Unite and believe in yourself, and in your students. Change will come if we fight for it.