Monday, March 3, 2014

Reflections from ICE -- We Have to Tell Our Own Stories

I was lucky to be able to spent some time at the Illinois Computing Educators conference last week, and, of course, I came away with a brain full of great ideas, tips, tricks, and things to try.  I will definitely share all of that here soon, but first I really want to reflect on my major takeaway from ICE: I have a responsibility to help my schools tell their stories.

I work as a district coach with ten schools that are in federal restructuring.  It's hard work -- for teachers, for administrators, for all of us.  No matter how you try to dress it up, federal restructuring is often seen as synonymous with failing.  No one wants to hear that their hard work resulted in failure, but here we are.  This is the message that is being shared about our schools because we aren't telling our own story.
When I interviewed for this position, one of the things I was hoping to bring to the table was the ability to help schools tell their own stories.  Instead of being represented by test scores in the newspaper, I wanted our schools to represent themselves.  I wanted our schools to reach out to our community and the world.  I wanted our schools to share who they truly are.

I dropped the ball.

Despite my strong belief in the power of stories, of sharing, and of relationships, building a digital footprint with my schools got put on the back burner.  I'm new to this position, and this position is new to the district.  Things were changing daily.  I got lost in the minutiae of learning the ever-changing ins and outs of my job.  I got bogged down in meetings. I was waiting for guidelines to be finalized.  I lost sight of this critical piece of my work.  This isn't to say that I haven't done good work this year.  I've done plenty that I'm proud of.  It's just that ICE was a real wake up call for me.  I lost sight of something really powerful, and I needed to be reminded.
Steve Dembo talked about this idea of ambient intimacy.  If we share who we are through social media --  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, what have you -- we send out a series of light touches to the world.  Through these light touches the world gets to know us, and we get to know the world.  Our schools deserve to be seen as more than just poor test scores, but the only way to do that is to use our own voices.
The world we live in amazes me.  We are more connected than ever before.  As educators, we are no longer isolated from each other -- in fact, educator isolation has now become a choice.  We have to choose to share our stories, to learn from each other, and to make those global connections.  I have a responsibility to my schools to help them find ways to share their stories.
I truly believe that telling our stories is worth it.  I've experienced the power of sharing my story in my personal life -- it brought me connections to others dealing with infertility, moms of twins, book lovers, and connected me with people all over the world who are now some of my closest friends.  I've also experienced the power of sharing in my professional life.  I get to learn from other educators all around the world each and every day.  I get to share my ideas, learn new tricks, and talk about teaching and learning.  I've seen how powerful social media can be in my own life.  I've watched it work for other schools.  It's time to help my schools find their voice.  I can't wait to get started!


  1. Thank you for reminding me that we can choose to be bystanders and let our stories be told for us, or we can step up and do the telling ourselves. We have so much to celebrate in our district, and especially in our ten schools; let's get out there and do it! Count on me to be a part of this work, too!

    1. Thanks Sandy! I'm so glad we are on the same team!

  2. Best of luck! I know the challenges are great but it sounds like you are THINKING, with insight from others. I too struggle with similar challenges & I am a 30+ year veteran. Follow me if you so choose via Twitter @rosnelsonwest

  3. Erin, I'm with you. It was great to hear George's story - so much of us will stay with us long after he's back in Canada, eh? Thank you for this thoughtful post - it helps me to reflect on the day of learning even more. It was so great to see you again - and this time hear your last name!! I won't forget it, you Harry Potter fan, you! :D

  4. LOVE this post. A masterful job using the tweets to drive your storytelling. Thanks for sharing your ICE experiences!