Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"I Have Nothing to Say"

Have you ever thought, "I have nothing to say in the world of education?" I often hear educators make claims that they have nothing to share with their colleagues, locally or globally. They point to their perceived weaknesses, shrug their shoulders and move on. They turn down opportunities to fulfill leadership responsibilities, let opportunities to share their experience formally or informally pass by, or they remain quiet in online discussions lurking and learning rather than joining and participating.

In the interest of transparency, I must admit that I have had moments where I felt like I had nothing left to share with others. In my mind, I made very similar excuses. I've sat in front of a blank screen wondering what I could impart that would have any impact or relevance to others. I've had requests to do all day workshops and I was at a loss as to what I could present that would enrich the lives of the students of the educators that would spend a day with me. What if I have nothing to say?

We all have moments of self-doubt. I have come to the conclusion that is absolutely okay. What is not okay is giving in to those doubts, remaining silent, denying other educators of your unique perspective and experience. So I thought I would address some of the most common excuses we may give ourselves that prevents us from sharing and connecting with others.

1- "Others know more than me." While that may be true, they are not YOU. As we all recognize that our students are unique, so are each of us. Although there may be a world-renowned author/speaker/educator out there who has a massive following, that has no bearing on what you have to share. You have different perspectives and experiences. He/she is not in your classroom every day with your students. Chances are they haven't read many of the same articles, Twitter chats, research, or books that you have. And even if they have, you are looking at it with a different lens; one that frames into within the context of what you do each and every day.

This is the same as saying, "I don't know enough." Would any of us accept this excuse from one of our students? I hope not. My students become adept at adding "yet" to the end of statements like this. It sets the lack of proficiency as a goal to strive to learn more, reach higher, and grow personally. One thing that I learned quickly was that not every teacher is teaching at the same level. Like our students, teachers are each at different places on their learning continuum.  I've been in sessions at conferences where one group of teachers walked out completely overwhelmed and confused, while others claimed that they were bored because there wasn't anything new shared. This was in the same presentation. No matter where you are in your journey, whether you are talking about differentiation, questioning techniques, reading strategies, writing practices, assessment, or digital literacy, there are individuals who need to benefit from your expertise. They may have been overwhelmed or underwhelmed with someone else because they weren't being fed what they needed. Continue to learn so that you can fulfill that need in others.

2- "I could never be as good as ______." Here's something to think about: Education is NOT a competition. We are all striving to provide our students with the best education possible. It's okay if you are presenting at a conference and the room across from yours is packed while you only have a handful of people. That does not mean that what you are sharing isn't worthwhile. Our responsibility is to share our experiences with others in a hope that  they can not only benefit in their own practice, but also their students can reap the reward.

Personally, I've had educators compare me to others who are more of a "rock star." Without a doubt I came up lacking. How did I handle it? After much reflecting, I realized that I am full-time teacher who shares my experiences with others. What I'm sharing is what really works with's not some theory by someone who has only read/heard about it from another party. I know it's relevant and meaningful because my students are the evidence. When I speak, I share their stories. For me, that speak volumes that a disconnected researcher can never touch. Our intention should never be to become a "rock star." Our intention should be to give back to the educational community that has given us so much over the years. As educators it is our obligation to share what we know...whatever that may be.

3- "No one will listen." Would we permit our students to enter something with a defeatists attitude? Then why do we allow it to get in our way of sharing with others? If we blog, tweet, post, or pin things that are value to us, I guarantee that there is someone out there looking for what you are sharing. If one person benefits, isn't it worthwhile? Sometimes it about having the right frame of mind when we share. If we are looking for the number of reads, likes, or retweets, we might be disappointed. However, is that why we write or share? I know that I write to reflect on my own experiences: what goes well, what doesn't, and how to improve. That transparency is what connects others to you. I share because I know that others have done so before me and I want to pay it forward.

We need to remember that someone out there is counting on each of us. They are searching for answers, support, and encouragement that only you may be able to provide. Speak up. Share your voice. Inspire others. It can make all the difference in the world.

1 comment:

  1. Powerful words, Julie! It was an inspirational reminder for me as I prepare for my first presentation in front of my colleagues and find myself struggling with that self-doubt that you mentioned! Thank you for being willing to share so openly and honestly!