' I am entirely certain that twenty years from now we will look back at education as it is practiced in most schools today and wonder how we could have tolerated anything so primitive.' John W Gardner
My dear friend from Louisiana sent me this tweet this morning:
Somehow my blog made a list of 100 Blogs for Teach Savvy Teachers. I have been labeled as an “Innovative Teacher” which is a label I can live with! I started to reflect on the original purpose of my blog and I would like to share my thoughts with you.
In February of 2008 I attended a workshop where Howie DiBlasi discussed the role of change agents in education. He went on to say that it is possible for one teacher to make a difference. Something Howie said that day stuck with me and early in the summer I started my blog. It took me a long time to come up with the name, but I eventually decided on Nebraska Change Agent.
So what does it mean to be an agent of change? I asked my PLN to define this phrase. Here is what they had to say:
@ktompso: 1) one who helps others adjust to change 2) one who makes change happen to them.
@jasonbuck: One that pushes the limits to demonstrate that there are other ways of thinking and doing.
@kylepace: A person who brings a new vision to the masses so that all may benefit.
@edtechsteve: Anything that inspires (or forces) individuals, groups, or institutions to alter the way they do business.
@web20classroom: A person or persons who alters the system to achieve a high degree of achievement.
@moehlert: All progress begins with dissatisfaction. Change agent = someone who is dissatisfied enough to act.
@jdog90: One that pushes the edge, takes the risk, is willing to fail.
@oswego98: Someone who works toward improving the educational system.
I would agree with all of these definitions. Change agents work toward deep, meaningful, and permanent change. They take the lead, push the limits and take risks. Change agents must have a clear vision in their head of where they are going and what they want to achieve. They must also truly believe in what they are doing and be passionate enough about their cause to win over converts. My goal when I started blogging was to bring change to my region of Nebraska. In respect to that goal I have failed miserably. I live in a very conservative area where tradition trumps everything. Generally speaking change is not openly embraced. Unfortunately this is leaving many students, including my daughter, unprepared to face their future. If I was not teaching her about blogging, wikis, RSS feeds, iGoogle, etc. she would never learn about it. Schools in my region just don’t teach about these things. Is it any wonder why students leave after high school and never return? We aren’t giving them what they are looking for. This is not just a problem in Nebraska either. It is everywhere. It seems like there are only pockets of schools getting it right. What is the secret to making those pockets the rule rather than the exception?
While I have not been able to make much of a difference locally, I have been blown away by the response I have gotten from some of the people on Twitter. I wrote a post a few weeks ago about giving a gift PLN to an administrator. It was an extension of the idea that Tom Whitby suggested. I came up with a list of fifty people who were selected specifically for my administrators. With in a few weeks I had heard from administrators all over the country who had just started on Twitter who used my list to start their PLN. Someone even told me that my blog is now required reading for their grad students. Really? My blog? I was honored, but want to say that there are many blogs out there that are far superior to mine. Just check out my blog roll which does not even begin to scratch the surface.
So why do change agents work so tireless to get their message out? Why do we sacrifice sleep, time with family, and our sanity? I think it is because we feel like we have to. According to this chart there are not many people who are truly innovators. If we don’t keep pushing the envelope, then who will?