Monday, July 8, 2013

Rock Stars and the Rest

This post is a response to Michelle Baldwin's Post - No More Rock Stars.  You might want to read that first.

When I started teaching in 1985, I left school feeling like an expert.  I was smart.  I was well trained.  I had done well in student teaching.  I was ready.  Of course, as you all know from your own experiences, I knew nothing about teaching.  I needed help to deal with parents, administrators, other teachers, difficult students, time management.  You name it, I struggled with it.  And I am forever grateful to all the wonderful people who helped me make it through.

By 1988, I was in my third school.  Each school had different ways of running and so I needed support each time I moved.  Different grade?  More support.  Different curriculum?  More support.  New ways of teaching?  More support? Testing?  You guessed it.  I don't think there has ever been a time in my life when I didn't look towards, and depend on, others to help me get by.  
ISTE 2013 is over and it was, as always, exhilarating and educational.  But, since I've been home, and even while I was there, the same message seems to be floating around.  We need to stop thinking of others as rock stars and recognize that we all have something to offer.We need to eliminate the elitist mentality of the education world. 

Ok...I do agree that there should be no elitist mentality.  We all have something to offer.  But I don't agree about the rock stars.  You see, I need rock stars.  I need to know that there are people I can learn from. People who are doing more than me...who are doing what I am trying to do better than me...who are trying things I have not even heard of yet.  To me, those are rock stars and I am honored to be able to speak with them and learn from them every chance I get.

I also like to think of myself as a rock star.  Steve Dembo even called me one, once.  I want to recognize, and be proud of that fact, that I am better than some, with...project based learning...managing children...universal design...time management.  (Just a note: I am reading Lean In,  by Sheryl Sandberg, and am trying out pride for my achievements.  It feels like bragging and feels wrong but I'm sticking with it.)  If I wasn't better than some, then it would mean I haven't learned much in 28 years.  And I certainly know that I have.  I am not the same teacher I was 28 years ago. I am not even the same teacher I was 5 years ago.  In fact, last year I had a very unique year, where, things I had been trying for years, finally worked.  

 So how does that make me a rock start?  Well, to myself it doesn't.  To my close PLN, it doesn't.  But to teachers just starting to attempt those things I have finally mastered, I am a rock star.  I am a rock star in teaching the same way my best friend is my rock star when it comes to mastering patience.  The same way my daughter is a rock star when it comes to being more altruistic.  The same way Lee Kolbert is a rock star when it comes to managing an online relationship tactfully.  The same way Adina Sullivan is a rock star when it comes to learning how to deal with children in poverty.  The same way Paul Bogush is a rock star when it comes to being more political in education.  The same way Michelle Baldwin is a rock star when it comes to thinking deeply about others.  The same way.....

Yeah, I like being a rock star.  I also love that I have rock stars to emulate.  How would I ever improve if I didn't?  Who is your rock star?  Who are you a rock star for?