Sunday, October 18, 2015

Finding Magnitude for Your Tiny Voice

There are times when, as educators, we are called to be the champion of others. Sometimes it is for a student, sometimes it is for a fellow educator, occasionally it is even for a parent. When the word "champion" is used we think of someone sweeping in to be the superhero. According to Merriam-Webster a champion is "someone who fights or speaks publicly in support of a person, belief, cause, etc." The majority of the time we think of being a champion as a positive experience. It is why I serve on the East Tennessee board of JDRF- to raise money to find a cure for type 1 diabetes. It is why I am looking forward to speaking at educational technology conferences for the next few months- to give helpful encouragement and insights to the idea of technology as a supportive role in the classroom. 

BUT, being a champion isn't always easy. For every champion's cause, there is another side. Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, St. Paul, Malala Yousafzai, even the three middle school fictional characters in the book/movie "Hoot" (a film about saving owls) had to give magnitude to their tiny voice.

I believe at some time or another we have all experienced the moment when everything inside us was waring about saying something OUT LOUD. For me, when I actually hear that tiny voice hesitantly escape my lips it often even sounds somewhat like the 7-year-old Julie of my past. It usually comes out with a little quivering sound in my throat as I am anxious about the affects of speaking the words. And then it gains magnitude.

This year, as a technology coach/coordinator, I find myself feeling the need to stand up for teachers' desires and what's best for the students quite often. While some people might say "yeah right," it really isn't my nature to rock the boat. I've lived status quo at my school for many happy years. As both my role and the role of technology in the classroom have evolved, I find myself riding the seesaw of pushback and acceptance; weighing the options and listening- ever listening.

In this year I've found myself more than ever before digging deeper to encourage that tiny voice to speak up. I also know the things I say aren't always popular. Now, I'm no Rosa Parks but in my own little education world I realize innovation means taking chances. Going against the norm or pushing back has to be balanced with being seen as a "team player" in my world as well. The seesaw, again, goes up and down- aggressively at times.

Not all educators feel comfortable allowing their tiny voice to escape. For whatever reason- financially, professionally, or personally- they can't find the magnitude to say what they feel. I get that. I'm not going to lie, this weekend when J.C. Bowman, executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, labeled me among some amazing Tennessee educators with this statement, "I am very optimistic about public education in my state. On the horizon there are some great young educators within Tennessee that will positively influence the dialogue about public education. They are incredible advocates for children and collaborate with their colleagues by sharing ideas, thoughts, and providing support." I felt encouraged and acknowledged. We won't digress on the fact he also called me "young" and hinted I was a public school educator even though I am not now. ;)

I share all this to say, there is value in educators finding their tiny voice. While we must always shrewdly pick our battles, we are in the battlefields and we see the injustices (both big and small) going on around us. We should let that little quivering voice escape sometimes, even when it's not easy, in order to get to the greater good. I'm not going to lie, there are days I wonder "will this statement get me in trouble" as it passes through my lips but I don't willy-nilly push back and I know that if I am valued as an employee, EdTech leader, and educator then those that sign my paycheck also know I want what is best for our students overall. 

I challenge you to find your tiny voice and give it magnitude- even if it's just in the form of a blog that helps you think things through.

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