NECC 2009: Don’t let rejection or acceptance go to your head!

It is tough with NECC 2009 this year — so many people applied, I know it had to be tough to decide who would present. (The twittersphere has been atweet over this.)

I just want to tell the people who were “rejected” what to think about rejection. Rejection has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The lonely girl in the back of the room (put there b/c she wouldn't dare talk to anyone) — made fun of, hurt, and wounded most of the time.

And yet, through this, rejection has taught me something.

My self worth comes from me and service to the audience of One. I am a person made in God's image with a purpose and a plan and rejection hurts. WE all want to be “accepted” — we want to be included. We want to be valued and considered important.

To me, since I've become a teacher, I find this desire to be valued rear its ugly head way too often — because, I think that as a teacher, we're often islands working with students who don't even thank the parents who feed and clothe them! Most are undervalued and unappreciated at their schools and so, we want SOMEONE somewhere to notice the pain and heartache of pouring one's soul into every day.

The edublogosphere is, on the whole, a pretty welcoming place (sometimes.) (In fact, I've found it to be tougher now, than at the beginning b/c we're always all looking for the “new” face – we all sometimes reject people who seem to have been there a while.)

So, then, we finally have acceptance of the edublogosphere, and then, we get the nerve to try for NECC. And “Bam” — no we don't want you.

No matter how they phrase it, no matter what they do — it hurts. It stings like salt water to the eyes. NO matter what anyone says, we lay there at night wrapped up in our blanket and feel alone and lonely.

Rejection hurts.

And if you're on the side who is “accepted” – I can tell you this — don't let it go to your heads. Because if those who have been “rejected” are worth their mettle, they'll let this “rejection” stoke the fire to receive greater and greater excellence.

The only way to permanently fall is to not get back up. To me, those with the most greatness often go through the greatest rejections of life. And amidst those rejections, they pull themselves together, refocus their understanding of why they've been put on this planet, and go on to achieve more than they every would have if they had been “accepted.”

To me, rejection has been both my fuel to be more as well as a branding iron on my heart. It is your choice as to what you will do with it.

Brush yourself off, take part in NECC unplugged, and realize what my Mom always tells me:

“You can't go on a guilt trip unless you pack your own bags. You don't go to a pity party unless you make your own cake.”

Now, are you going to let the amazing things you've done throughout your life be defined by this one thing?

Are you going to be bitter or are you going to be better?

Are you going to pack your bags and make a cake — or are you going to just get up, dust off and do the real work you have on your desk right now!

Some might say, “that's easy for you to say, you got accepted.”

Well, you know what – when I started I got a lot of rejections and still do. I get more rejections now than ever – but that is because I try to do more things. Nothing, I mean nothing, makes it easier. Someone said something so unkind about me on another blog last week, that it literally almost ruined last Saturday.

And I talked to my sister, and she said some wise words:

“Vicki, who is this person? They don't know you! You don't even know if that is their real name! They can say whatever they want about you and don't even care. How dare you let that bother you. Get over it! You have a life to live and a family to raise and if you're going to let strangers bother you, then you're going to have to go offline permanently. If you're doing anything worth doing – some people will like you and some won't, get over it.”

Ok, so, that is what I'm telling you. No selection process is perfect. And don't you dare think that acceptance or rejection of your proposal gives you any validation as a person.

If you are an educator worth your salt, you're here for the students – the kids.

You're in this because it is a calling to improve the society of the future by reaching out to, encouraging, and helping the generations of today. It is a thankless job today but you leave a legacy — and that, my friends lasts.

So, brush off the dust of this rejection and move ahead to something else. Keep trying, keep sticking your neck out and realize that in order to make any difference in this world, you've got to take a lot of lumps on the ole noggin.

IF this is about what you're doing and not your own need for affirmation — move forward and focus on the mission.

Teaching, parenting, and blogging can all often be lonely, but we have some very important work to do here.

Don't you dare let this NECC rejection make you curl up into a ball and retreat from the world. We need you! We need each other!

And those who got accepted, again, better not take it for granted – it is a gift. Serve well and keep your wits about you and your ego under control. Arrogance has always been the great enemy of learning and one that we all have to struggle with sometimes.

Best wishes to all of my amazing friends and inspirations out there. As mama also says, “Keep up your chins!”

And go on to make the unconference and edubloggercon something special that people will talk about — so they'll say, “now who was crazy enough to say no to ___.” (fill in your name) And remember what it is like as next year for 2010, we all may be singing a different song – me included!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Lisa Thumann December 18, 2008 - 7:07 pm

Thank you for reminding us that we are in education because of the students. I posted my thoughts on my blog at I wanted to remind myself and others that there were many that had proposals accepted and should be able to enjoy that.

There’s always next time.


Scott December 18, 2008 - 6:59 pm

I accept and understand that proposals will not always be accepted, but allow me to posit something: what if one keeps putting out proposals and keeps getting rejected? Does the person know why they were rejected?

We are classroom teachers, and writing proposals might not be everyone’s forte. However, perhaps a person has a really good idea and just doesn’t hit the right blend/mix of what needs to be on a proposal. Is there an avenue I am unaware of for finding out what expectations are? Should there be avenue? Should there be a committee perhaps that would be willing to answer questions and guide people?

As the ed-tech audience grows in size, we definitely want to give a lot of voices a chance to speak and share I would think. Could what I suggest foster that?

Vicki A. Davis December 18, 2008 - 7:13 pm

@Scott- To me, in the web 2 world we live in, it is important to give feedback – don’t know why it can’t be facilitated for reviewers to give some feedback.

Also, I will state that all of my sessions were with me as a co-presenter – I don’t know how many people are accepted to present alone – when I’ve applied solo, I’ve always gotten rejected on those proposals for NECC, for whatever reason. ;-) I have one workshop that was accepted w/ me solo, but that was it.

But yes, having feedback is so important and I think it should be part of it so we can be better. There is also a disconnect here – the best writers are NOT the best presenters (as we all know.)

Thanks, Lisa, I’ll take a look at your post.

Pamela December 31, 2008 - 7:06 pm

Just yesterday I read your post about people’s reactions to their NECC proposals being rejected or accepted. (I don’t know how I missed this post.) The post bothered me, so I followed the links in the comments and searched for more blogs about NECC rejection or acceptance. I was in disbelief! I know presenting at NECC can completely change your professional life. However, I know being a prek-12 teacher and/or teaching teachers impacts individual lives daily. Your name may not be spoken in schools around the world, but is it well spoken of in your school? If an educator never presents at NECC, they still can impact thousands of lives.

Take a step back and remember what is truly important in this life. Did you die from being rejected? Did you suffer the loss of a loved one? Did you have to watch your child suffer and not be able to stop it? Do you have to depend on someone else for your basic care? Are you being forced from your home? Are you unable to pay your bills? Do you not have food to eat? Open your eyes and look around! If having your proposal rejected by NECC is the worst thing that has ever happened to you then you have lived a charmed life indeed!!!

If any of you are still moping around about being rejected, my suggestion is to give to someone in need. Donate blood. It is true. You will be saving a life. Visit a children’s hospital and give the parents a gift card to a local restaurant or a night’s stay at a local motel. Give to a Ronald McDonald House. Give to a Burn Survivors’ group (Excellent group at KU Med in KC, KS). Burn survivor charities get very little publicity. Would it change your attitude about this summer if you knew while you are at NECC listening to others present that a child you sponsored was attending a camp for burn survivors or another special camp for children? Isn’t that what being an educator is all about…making the difference in the life of a child?

Vicki A. Davis December 31, 2008 - 7:45 pm

Yes, Pamela! It is so much about keeping perspective. But just understand that it takes a lot of time to put together something and the acceptance rate this year was very low (some strands I heard less than 3%) – there is certainly some room for other methods of sharing here.

Of course, we should always keep in mind that our focus is on teaching. Your comment is worthy of its own blog post — do you blog and if so, or if not – that should definitely be a post to share your thoughts. You have great thoughts — share them here and also in other ways! Thank you so much for taking the time to give your thoughts!

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