Take time to share and listen to classroom stories

elevator (Photo credit: Jose R. Borras)

I listened to him talk for 10 or 20 minutes at least. Then, he asked me what I did and I was sharing a bit about Flat Classroom projects and the incredible things that kids are doing. He interrupts me 1 minute in smiling and says,

“So this is your elevator pitch?”

I said,

“No, that implies I'm selling you something. I'm not. Either you get that students need to understand how to collaborate or you don't.”

and then quietly went to reading over my notes for my speech again.

“I'm so sorry, did I interrupt you?” He says.

“No problem, it isn't for everyone, but it is transformational in the classroom.”

We both went on reading and doing our own thing. But later, I pondered how often this happens.

I was talking to a teacher who is doing FANTASTIC things in STEM while I was waiting for the plane in Tallahassee last Wednesday. (Hopefully he'll guest post here and share his story soon.) After listening about all the cool, amazing things he's doing, he stopped and said,

“You know I've reached out to others about this but all I got was a sales pitch, a kind of feeling like I was invading their territory.”

Like bulldogs in a junk yard, there are many who think their transformation is the only one happening and no one better dare invade their turf. Their collaboration is the only one. Their exciting classroom experience is the only thing. It isn't.

There are exciting things happening around the world. It is great to share your story with your enthusiasm but when you become territorial and refuse to share great best practices or when you're so interested in your own elevator pitch that you cut people off, you're missing out.

Get out there and read and find out what others are doing. There are some fantastic ideas and best practices happening NOW. Also realize that some things that started off viral have now gone very commercial and there are many trying to sell you things.

Flat Classroom Projects has two arms – a for profit and a not for profit side. Different projects go into each depending upon what is happening. But if you're around us long you'll understand that part of what we do is celebrate excellence in global collaboration ANYWHERE it happens.

We want to educate and inspire a new generation of global collaborative excellence from the classroom up as we train and teach Flat Classroom Certified Teachers. It is our goal that they will be the best in the world as they start their own projects. We want to help inspire a movement and we want our projects to be the pinnacle of what global collaborative excellence looks like with true Global Collaboration 3.0 (cocreation) excellence happening (see our book for more on that.) But we also celebrate excellence in global collaboration everywhere it happens. It means a lot to me that iEARN retweets our projects and we retweet theirs. Taking IT Global and Flat Classroom has co-planned and created webinars together for Connected Educator month. Working together is what we do.

Maybe it sounds like an elevator speech, but it is a passion. Some want to hear about it and others have no clue what is really happening – that we are merging classrooms to cocreate for 6-10 weeks at a time from kindergarten to college. It is powerful and exciting.

But it is always the best strategy to work with the willing. You can't push anyone up a ladder. Yes, I'm completely passionate about Julie's and my book Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds. We wrote it to be a guidebook and manual for transforming yourself, your school, and your classroom in ways that prevent burnout and help you connect with the world in powerful, meaningful ways.

We share more than 50 projects (besides our own) and stories and poured two years of our lives into making that book, what we believe, is the best book on global collaboration in education in the world. We're currently struggling with our publisher to make sure the book is as internationally syndicated as it needs to be – it is a lot harder to get in some countries than it should be — but it is intended to be an international guidebook.

So, yes, maybe I am over the top passionate.

But never let me be so passionate about my own classroom and projects that I'm blinded to the passion and excitement emerging from the classroom of another.

  • May we all be a willing listener and a positive encourager.
  • May we all build a network of friends who help each other move forward.
  • May we all be encouraged to be your best and share your story in your way and not cut off by those who think they have a monopoly on excellence.

Any time you are passionate about something, you (and I) will be accused of being in “sales.” If that is what it takes to keep Flat Classroom going, then, I guess it will have to be some of that. But I also think you can tell a lot about a person if they can turn it off long enough to listen to, help, and encourage others.

There are a lot of educators getting started out there and if the silos of self promotion are already so entrenched, who is going to be helpful?

I believe with all of my heart that unselfish listening, empathy, and encouragement will help you do more to build up your passion than a single-minded, self-promotional diatribe about how you are God's gift to education. Education is much bigger than any of us and we are fortunate if we can play a small, humble part in moving things forward.

Arrogance and ego are a big part of what many do in this field, but those things don't make many friends. But remember that even if you are humble and helpful, if you have anything to sell — a speech or a book, you will be accused of “selling” in some way.

Perhaps so many are so jaded that it is hard to believe that real people are trying to make a living being helpful. There is no glamour in being poor – having some money can help you do good things as well and is not a bad thing. I think that helpful people deserve to make some income, but sadly, most of that money, I'm finding, is squarely in the hand of publishers if it involves writing a book.

So, onwards and upwards here in Camilla, back to my classroom, where airports will fade into memories — at least for a while.

Meanwhile, take time to listen to what others are doing in their classrooms this week AND share your story as well. The more current examples we have from the classroom, the better off we will all be.

Each story written, blogged, and tweeted is a gift and I hope you'll take time to share…and to listen.

– Written on my iPad using Blog Press by Vicki Davis, author, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds

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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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