The day that Brad Currie contacted me about writing a guest blog post for him was coincidentally the same day that a student of mine Betsy “bought” (with her Dojos) the class job “Social Media Advisor” for the week. Just the previous week, I had introduced this new class job to my students so they could become a more active part of our class Twitter page @3rdGradeHuskies. The job responsibilities include writing one “Tweet of the Day” that reflects upon something we had learned and worked on that day. I hand picked our first Social Media Advisor the week before for two reasons: I knew he would catch on to the concept of a 140 character limit quickly, and I was confident his Tweets would be well-written and grand examples for the rest of the class (well actually three reasons: I also knew he would remember to post the Tweets, even if I forgot to remind him. I am still working on keeping a “to-do” list at my desk, I just continue to forget to write it..). After Brad and I corresponded about writing a few blog posts for him, and describing my use of technology in the classroom, I was ecstatic. What an exciting opportunity to share my class of amazing students with the education world.
Throughout the rest of the day, I contemplated different ideas I could share (and not share) about integrating technology into the classroom. Some of my thoughts are recorded below:
“My students’ blog posts have been fairly successful...I could include a screenshot of some of their comment conversations”
“Maybe I should include a reflection on being a first year teacher.. that could interest other new teachers like me.”
“I should probably not mention the Google Doc letter a student shared with me the day that he lost 5 minutes of recess for misbehaving…”
As sifted and sorted my thoughts throughout the day, I realized I had totally forgotten about how Betsy needed to write a Tweet of the Day. During her literacy station, I walked up to her and quietly reminded her of her job duty. She turned to me with a huge grin on her face and handed me a piece of paper with the Tweet already written on it. I have included the picture of her tweet below.
Translation: “What we learned today is linking words. And today we’ve worked hard on a body paragraph. Everybody is a hard worker.”
Throughout my first year of teaching, I have not had many reservations about trying new things. I have revamped our math block 3 times to make sure I am using every second wisely, I changed our Daily 5 structure so my students could have 100% free choice during our literacy block, and I went from doing writing stations, to full-blown Lucy Calkins writers’ workshop, to now a combination of the two. That bravery, however, was stopped in its tracks when Betsy handed me this tweet. Just that morning I had promise Brad Currie that I would write a blog post about my creative use of technology in the classroom, and yet now I was nervous about posting a picture of this tweet to my class Twitter page. Don’t get me wrong, I was extremely proud of Betsy’s writing. The fact that she included periods and began each sentence with a capital letter was a Christmas miracle - but I had never shown the world that my students were not entirely perfect. Twitter has been such a revolutionary platform for me to get to know other amazing educators, and yet with my first-year-teacher insecurities, sometimes it was intimidating to see all of the perfect classrooms that were out there. I wasn’t ready to admit that I had not been able to turn each of my 3rd graders into the next J. K. Rowling.
I stared at the tweet for a few more seconds, then looked down at Betsy who was still giving me the proud, toothy grin that I love her for. In that moment, I realized I was being absolutely ridiculous. This was something that Betsy was proud to share with the world. She wanted all of our Twitter followers to know how hard our class had worked on “leking wrd’s” and “Boty pargrph,” and by golly, I wanted the Twitter world to know too. I tweeted that baby out, and Betsy beamed with pride the rest of the day. The next morning, Betsy came rushing to my door and excitedly asked, “Did everyone on the internet like my tweet?” I smiled, “Yes, Betsy. They loved your tweet.” To be honest, out of everyone “on the internet,” I am fairly confident that I loved it the most.
If I was to summarize the moral of this story (or blog post), it would be for all teachers, and especially fellow first-year’s, to not be afraid. Your students are not all on level. Your lessons are not always revolutionary. Your classroom is not perfectly clean at the end of the day. And that is okay. Don’t let the fear of perfection, the fear of messing up, prevent you from trying new things. In our ever-changing, technology-driven world, we have to take chances and mess things up to be revolutionary. We know that teaching our students that it is okay to fail is critically important for their personal and academic growth, so let’s make sure we take our own advice. Make a class Twitter page, and don’t be afraid to tell your real story. Everyone (including you) will be better for it.
Brad Currie is the author of All Hands on Deck: Tools for Connecting Educators, Parents, and Communities. He is one of the founding partners of Evolving Educators LLC. Brad is an ASCD Emerging Leader, Bammy Award Finalist, ClassDojo Thought Leader and Google Certified Educator. He currently serves as a K-8 Supervisor of Instruction and Middle School Vice Principal for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. Learn more about Brad by following him on Twitter @bradmcurrie or visiting his website at www.bradcurrie.net.