I started a recent learning session by stating my only goal is that you leave more excited than when you walked in. I hope the same for you as you are reading this. I hope you are more excited about your passion, whatever that is after you are finished reading this.
I had the opportunity the other day to work with close to 40 educators in my current school district. Working with educators is something I have always valued since I started my career a short 10 years ago (I can’t believe it is already 10 years). When I was asked to do a presentation on Twitter for professional learning I immediately became excited. However, something strange happened. I have done this type of professional learning on multiple occasions in two of my past districts along with my current district and I decided to change it up a bit.
For this professional learning opportunity in which I would have the chance to connect with educators that I do not normally interact with I decided to focus on my passion of being a connected educator. As I prepared this learning session I realized how excited I was to share my passion with everyone. I wasn’t excited to share the tool (Twitter), I was excited to share my passion for connecting with other educators. I was excited to share the impact that this movement has had on my own growth as an educator and as a leader. During the summer, I presented to a few teachers about using Twitter for professional development and the presentation was completely different after having attended the conference on What Great Educators Do Differently. Even more interesting is when I found out that I was going to be presenting about a social media tool and one of my teachers that attended the summer session asked if it was going to be the same presentation. Unfortunately, I said it was without even giving it a second thought.
As the session date grew closer I started to think about all of the ideas that had been shared a few weekends ago on a beautiful campus outside of Chicago. I thought about Angela Maiers (@) speaking about realizing your passion and finding your genius. I thought back to Jimmy Casas (@)and Jeff Zoul (@) sharing the key behaviors of connected educators. Finally, I thought about what George Couros(@) and our conversation walking back from the last session about letting go, embracing vulnerability, and start something new (blogging). I realized that I needed to change my presentation, my approach, and my message. I need to share my passion with educators I connect with every day and educators that work within my district. All of which had no idea what they were walking into. They thought they were walking into a 21st Century Learning Lab to learn about Twitter. What they were going into hear was someone embracing a new found thought process and hearing about someone’s passion and how they connect that passion to learning.
Many times as educational leaders or building principals we find ourselves saying things in a rote or routine manner. We often hide our true passions because we don’t want to offend or turn anyone off to our message. For both of these 1-hour sessions, that was not the case. I was able to share the why and the how of my own transformation as a connected educator. I was able to share how I thought being connected was through a tool but how I realized it still comes down to real face-to-face connections with educators who share similar passions. It’s about sharing your passion with those that will push and challenge your beliefs. I was able to show them how I continue to change my thought processes based on my own learning from so many great people and educational rockstars that I am fortunate enough to be able to interact with whenever I want to. I hope I was able to show them that it is so important to share their passion, no matter what it is, because everyone needs to let others hear your passion and why you have it. It provides an opportunity to connect and learn which should be the ultimate goal.
After reflecting on the presentation and reading some feedback that was given from those that attended. I hope that I accomplished my goal. I hope that they were more excited about teaching students than they were when they walked in. I hope they were excited to share their passion with those they connect with. I hope that they allowed themselves to be vulnerable and share something they never have with someone they see every day. Of course, I did touch on the tools I use to connect with people, so I do hope they embraced one of the tools that fits their needs and started building connections. Most importantly, I hope they were more excited about their passion than when they walked in because I know I was more excited about my own passion when I left.