Do you ever feel like you’re “just” a teacher? Do you feel like that person up on the stage never could be you? But you have a passion. You have a fire and a message – but what do you do with it? Brianna Hodges shares her journey from small-town teacher to the stage, state legislature, and nation’s capital. As she transparently shares her story, I believe that thousands of educators will also find the encouragement to speak up and speak out.
For, dear teachers, there is no such thing as “just” a teacher. You have a voice. Your words are important. And we need hundreds of thousands of passionate educators to help make this world a better place for our students.
So, don’t just sit there – get up and get started. Find your voice!
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Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.
Not “Just” a Teacher: Finding Your Voice as a Teacher
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Brianna’s story begins: from winning an award to the state legislature
Vicki: Today we’re thinking about finding our voice, but helping our students find their voice, and also finding our voice as educators. We have somebody uniquely qualified. We have Brianna Hodges @edutechtastic. She’s the 2017 Texas Instructional Technologist of the Year.
One day, Bri, you woke up and you were getting ready to testify in front of, I believe, the Texas State Legislature, right?
Brianna: Hah!!! Yes.
Vicki: And you had a friend who pushed you to help find your voice, and you’ve ended up in D.C., right?
Brianna: I have! I am very honored to serve as one of the two national advisors for Future Ready Schools, representing the Instructional Coach strand. And so, yes, I’ve kind of started very quickly after accepting the award for Instructional Technologist of the Year, then TCEA – as many of our state affiliates has a strong advocacy arm for educational opportunities here in Texas. And so, they reached out to myself and Carl Hooker, another one of our proud Texans, and asked if the two of us would go and testify in front of the Senate, in front of the legislature, on educational technology and Open Education Resources and instructional materials.
And so it’s really interesting. I actually have a background in politics and have worked with a lot of those people in a far different life, but to kind of come back into that area and then kind of have to speak on behalf of your profession, knowing that everything is recorded and that it can be highly contentious. It’s very intimidating, and to be looked at as that authority it was really interesting. I owe Carl a great big thank you for instilling that confidence that you’re asked for a specific reason… and that if you speak the truth in you, you speak it with your passion and your voice, then people want to listen to you and they believe in the ideas if you can paint that picture for them.
“I don’t see myself as ‘that’ person.”
Vicki: Now before you went up, though, he asked you a question. What was it?
Brianna: So Carl is also the godfather of iPad Palooza. Some of you might know about this. He had talked me into serving as one of the mini-keynotes for this learning festival. So iPad Palooza does – in place of having a single headline keynote event at the beginning of the festival – have a series of mini-keynotes. It’s pretty intimidating, honestly, for someone like me to see who all has graced that stage. But he has a way of believing in you and helping you see that could do it too.
So I agreed to it. So he asked me at that point, “OK what are you going to talk about?”
And I told him, “I don’t know. I don’t even know why you want me to do this!’ And I just started laughing because I am from a pretty small town, and I just don’t see myself as that person who gets asked to go and do all of these big (things). I just don’t see myself as that person who has that big name.
You know, he gave me some time. This was in April, and the learning festival, iPad Palooza is not until June, and so he was like, “Well, you’ve got some time. Don’t worry about it.” And we just kind of laughed that off.
Fast forward to a few weeks, and Carl also serves on Future Ready Schools as one of the advisors for the IT strand. So we both found ourselves in D.C. again. He asked again what I was going to speak on, and I said, “I really don’t know.”
He “pushed” me at that point, and he said, “Yes, you do. I asked you for a reason. And yes, you do.”
And I said, “OK, I really don’t know.”
And he said, “What would you tell your kids? What would you tell your teachers? Talk about what it is that you are passionate about.”
And he got me kind of riled up. I’ve known Carl for a number of years. So basically, I said, “OK! Fine. Yes. I would love to talk about how teachers are change agents, and what it means to actually change, and how do we create change. We create that change through using our voice and finding the thing that speaks loudest to us, and then taking that voice and sharing that with others.”
From that, he was really happy to know – and he said, “See, I told you. You knew that you had it in you.”
So fast forward to the actual keynote. Here I was. It’s a very intimidating process. You walk into this auditorium and there are all these video cameras on you. You see who all is going to be up there, and I drew the lucky straw of being the second person.
Anyway, my presentation… I kind of built it around, “What We’re Meant to Be.” We’re meant to be so much more than what we limit ourselves to, based upon our fear.
And so I talked about how, in my current role I spend my days in an instructional coaching role working with teachers. And they are faced with an immense amount of change as we go through this integration of technology, and individualization of learning, and all these different pedagogical changes that are coming rapid fire, it seems like in education.
That’s really unnerving, especially for teachers who have been really competent at what they have always done. Now all of a sudden to have that change come in. And then you take into consideration the amount of social media and just this world wide web, where everything is so connected and your ideas are shared instantly. That’s both a blessing and a curse.
So I really wanted to talk about how these same tactics that we use with our students – to help them understand that they matter – that we have to do the same things with our colleagues, as teachers.
A lot of the time, there’s a lot of influence and attention that’s put on the “school leaders” of principals and superintendents and administration. Sometimes teachers get lost in that, and we forget to value that they’re the ones who are actually changing the lives of so many children day in and day out. They’re the very people that often those kids can come to school for.
So I basically created a mantra that I talked about, how when we are in these situatons when we are asked to become these change agents, often our very first response is, “Well, I’m just a teacher.”
Don’t limit yourself through your fear
Brianna: I was just super guilty of that with Carl, you know, and that was the very first thing I told him. “I’m just not good at this.” I found myself saying everything that my students would tell me.
Brianna: And I was saying everything that my teachers would tell me. “I’m just not ready. I’m just not sure about it. I’m just a teacher. I’m just a mom. I’m just from a small town.” All of these different things. So after a lot of careful thought, when I was coming up with all of the things that I wanted to say, I decided on this mantra of just what all would we tell people.
My basic idea was that I needed my children – I have two kiddos, a five-year-old and an eight-year old – to be more than “just” a kid. I don’t want their fear to limit them.
I didn’t want my students to limit themselves through their fear.
I don’t want my teachers to limit themselves through their fear.
And so what I do tell them every day is that they are champions for learning. They are a stabilizing force for their students. They are fierce promoters of creativity and curiosity for their content. They are the game changers and the rally makers and the courageous crusaders. They are the spark and the voice and the change that our educational system needs. They are the very model of what our change agent looks like, sounds like, and acts like.
And I basically wrapped it all up by talking about that’s what we are meant to be. If we believe in ourselves and then we share that vision with each other, then that’s how we actually become the true change agents that we are challenged with.
Vicki: Wow. I love that. And there’s so much here. Really what you said stands on its own. But what I love, Bri, is your transparency of realizing that you and your students and your teachers are running along parallel tracks.
I can’t tell you how many incredible teachers I’ve seen at conferences, and I’ve gone up to them after sitting in on their session. I’ve said, “You should be speaking in more places. You should be sharing this story. Please blog. Please tweet. Please share what you’re doing.”
And their (response is), “Well, I’m just a teacher. I’m just not a big deal. I’m not THAT person.”
And they don’t understand that sometimes, we don’t choose the platform. The platform chooses us.
Vicki: This is fantastic. I hope you’ll just keep using your voice to help us all find our voices.
Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford
Bio as Submitted
Brianna Hodges, Director of Digital Learning, Stephenville Independent School District, Texas
Brianna Hodges is a passionate change agent, mother of two, a true CrAZy One and iCHAMPION Evangelist. She believes that technology enhances learning experiences in every facet of life by allowing for true personalization.
Recognized as the 2017 Texas Instructional Technologist of the Year, Brianna serves as the Director of Digital Learning for Stephenville ISD and is a national advisor for Future Ready Schools and Certified Google Trainer and Flipgrid Ambassador.
Noted for her work in branding and social media, Brianna's research has been published in several academic journals including the Journal of School Public Relations and the Journal for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.
She is believes in the power of coaching and inspires teachers and students to find their passions, embrace the challenges that life brings, and utilize their creativity to find ways to go bigger and grow brighter every day.
|Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)
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