I just read this article by George Couros and it is ironic that this was very similar to the conversations I had with my students when visiting Lindenhurst high school two weeks ago. The only difference was that we were praising our new American friends’ generosity. 16 Norwegian students and two teachers, myself included, embarked on a whirlwind of an adventure one week this September. My contact there, assistant principal Linda Flannelly at Lindenhurst high school, has been my online friend for years. In fact, when we met in person for the first time at Bett in London in January this year, we couldn’t remember how long we have known each other, or how we met online We just know we share the same passion for education, ensuring opportunities for all students to make a difference and bringing education forward to the 21 century. (whatever that means)! ha ha. Our schools are different in that way, but more about that in an anohter post!)
Our first great experience was how our American friends greeted us when we first arrived. And how they included us, helped us and did everything to make this a perfect week. The host families were very nice to the students and included them in their everyday life. It was the ultimate experience for us all. See student reactions here.
That said I realize the issues George addresses in his post are universal, global you could say. I often think that life at school would be easier if we all could celebrate each other’s victories and good results. When introducing technology in our school 11 years ago, many teachers were skeptical and annoyed. Anything that went wrong was because of this and I was to blame. As time passes most realize that this is the way to go and we continue to work on improving how we teach students. It is a slow process, but we are getting there. Ignore the comments and soldier on! When I return from a trip like the one in New York, some colleagues go out of the way to avoid commenting or asking questions about what we did there. I like the advice George gives, and choose to focus on what is positive. Hopefully next year two new teachers, will be able to go with their students, and hopefully, this friendship with educators and students in Long Island will benefit both schools in years to come.
I’m writing this in Helsinki up on the 8th floor of the Clarion hotel. I have been invited by Innovation Norway to speak at the Norwegian embassy on the 3rd of October, Smart teaching, and learning. I look forward to meeting other educators and policymakers who are interested in the use of technology in school and how to bring learning forward for all our students. Hopefully, I will be able to share my experiences at my school next week!
Here are the 4 ways from George on to not let others dim your light! Keep up the good work on changing education to the better!
- Be kind, always. When being seemingly attacked, it is easy to want to attack back. Often when people are doing this, there are things that they are dealing with that may not be about you. It can be easy to attack immediately, but in the end, how does that make you look? I once heard from a comedian that if you continue to be nice to those that hate you, and they continue to be cruel while you are kind, everyone will see who is the mean one in the situation. People believe that attacking back shows strength, but being kind even while someone is going after you, shows strength on a totally different level.
- Ask questions. Not all criticisms are bad. People are sometimes genuinely trying to help out, and if we are not open to being challenged, we never grow. By showing humility and trying to learn from the criticism of others, it creates a great opportunity to learn not only from success but from mistakes. By asking questions, you also can find common ground. That being said, if you find common ground and then people disagree with you still based on what you both believe, you start to realize that the criticism is less about the idea, and more about the person. Which leads to the next point.
- Move on and ignore. Time is the most precious currency we have, and how we spend it, is what leads anyone to be successful. Who you surround yourself with is often who you become.2 If you spend time with people constantly trying to deter you from your aspirations, you will spend more time being frustrated, and less time making things happen. This is not just during interactions, but when we dwell in our mind on the words and actions of others.A favourite quote:
Give people a chance to share their thoughts, but don’t give them a chance to take away to deter you from your dreams.
- Give back. If you want to be empowered, empower others.1 Be the example. As stated earlier, there is room for all people to be successful, and I make it a personal rule to invest my time in people who are willing to invest in themselves. Although our work ethic, personal mindset, and what we do with what we have are factors that lead to success, not one person I know has ever been successful totally on their own. People always help out, even in the smallest ways, to help others achieve their goals and dreams. Our own legacies continue when they live in others. If you hate others trying to bring people down, don’t just complain; be the opposite.