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Matt Harris: Encourage Those in Your School to Share

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by Matt Harris
Expert Educator Columnist, Singapore

I have discovered that TED talks are a great companion on long walks. I often listen to them for inspiration as I walk to school in the mornings (I live in Singapore, so I can walk to school year-round). The other day, I was listening to one from a volunteer fireman in the US who tells a great story about helping people and giving back to his community. Watch the video here <LINK>

I drew inspiration for a number of things that are now on my blogging and vlogging to-do list to discuss. One of them in particular, really stuck out for me in a profound way – Don’t Wait. I won’t go into a ton of detail here as I hope to share more about this topic later and on other platforms. But the gist of it is don’t wait to share the gifts you have to give. In the EdTech sense, don’t wait until you are an expert or you have that next job or you know the perfect app…just share.

Now, most of us in the MIE world do share. In fact, it is our sharing that has made us ideal candidates for this program. We create and curate EdTech resources that are valuable to the whole community and beyond. We write blog posts, post on the FB group, attend local meetings or the global exchange, even use #MIEExpert15 with pride. So the message about “don’t wait” is somewhat wasted on us.

It does suggest a similar message: Please Encourage.

As the “don’t waiters” start realizing that everyone has something to offer and the time to share is now they will need encouragement. They will need the push and support to identify those little (or large) things they know that can help their colleagues. As people who have shared it is our job to help them forward.

I suggest you find an emerging leader in your school or perhaps a reluctant teacher and talk with them. Ask him/her to put together a Sway on a simple topic. It needn’t be something that requires interaction or instruction, just a simple brain dump that has impact and legacy for the school. Say that you’re trying to curate content to help build the school’s knowledge bank.

What I have found is that this quickly turns into mentorship, where you spark a fire in that colleague that spreads to others. When I help them open up just that little bit, their light shine bright and they develop the confidence to do it again.

You’ll find this is a great way build internal capacity amongst your teaching staff, to kick start the establishment of PLNs, to finding the next set of informal Ed Tech coaches at your school.

And further, you find similar growth in yourself. You’ll find your understanding of EdTech will grow. You become a mentor and leader of leaders. And you will learn something new…ok, let’s be honest, you’ll a lot that is new.

For instance, I never knew I had talents as a career coach, but after encouraging a few “don’t waiters” I found that I was quite good at it. Now, I am considering myself a “don’t waiter” in the space of encouraging potential or existing Ed Tech staff and leaders in growing themselves professional.

I guess I just needed a little encouragement.

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