Where Do You Go From the Soap Box?

So it happened. Now what? When we push for things for years and all of a sudden it starts to become the norm, what are our next steps? Do we move on to something else “new” or still stand on the “soap box.” Or are there other options? I think there are other options and that is where I will head next.

Let me explain what the heck I am talking about. Five (almost 6!) years ago I joined Twitter. It took me about 4 or 5 months to really catch on but once I did my teaching and learning changed forever. Since then I have been on a mission to teach others about the power of being a connected educator. It has been a long road, I can remember doing a session on using twitter at a conference and only 10 people showed up. Even worse, one of the 10 was a principal in my district that called my principal to complain I was telling people to meet strangers online. I remember my first ISTE and clicking on the hashtag #ISTE10 and knowing every single person posting in the search. Not so much anymore. It is the norm for districts to have “chats” and have leaders online connecting with others. I read a report from Twitter the other day that educators make up the largest group on twitter (once I find that link, I forgot to bookmark, I’ll post it), we are to that point that we have preached about for years. But now what? I really miss that intimate space I used to have on twitter but I like that education is moving forward quickly.

Another soap box I have been on for about two years now is STE(a)M and Makerspaces. I wrote this post in March 2013 about the need of these in school and how this will get STEM into the schools and classrooms. While at ISTE this year, Makers and STEM were the key words I heard over and over. Last year I had to search for sessions on these topics and this year I had to decide which one I wanted to go to. It is fantastic. I am so excited and relived that this is something that others are now seeing the importance of. I love hearing how others are using this across the curriculum, something I have been talking to teachers about all spring and summer.

So what now? My two big soap boxes are no longer needed. What I have been pushing for and have worked so hard to get the word out on is now the norm. Where do I, and the so many others like you who have been pushing for things we know are essential to education go from here? No where. We are still the experts. We are no longer just passionate about this, we are experts. So now we need to take that expertise and guide the others. We know where it leads, they are just putting their toes in and wading around. We need to be their tour guides. We need to give advice, hold their hand, listen. We need to learn from those who are new. We need to tell others we are here for them when they do mess up or need that advice. So often I worry about those that are only a year or two into social media and have jumped to “twitter fame.” Without connections, it will fizzle out pretty quickly, I have seen it several times. We should be there supporting and connecting with them before that happens. We also need to keep moving forward. technology and social media are changing every day. Those of us on Twitter 4 or more years ago have seen this, those of us who had people look at us like we are crazy for pushing “making” in an everyday classroom understand pushback. Lets use those leadership skills as well as our knowledge of this for moving forward.

I don’t know what the next ‘soap box’ will be and I may be too tired to jump on, but wow it is incredible to see that soap box I was on so long is no longer that, it is now the ground floor with everyone else. It is awesome that movements that my friends/colleagues and I have have pushed for so long be something that is accepted and popular. Gives me hope that when something is right, it will work if we keep believing in it. And if not, we all learned something from Google Wave, right?

Hope y’all are having a fantastic summer!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Rodney says:

    Thank you for your viewpoint. The soapbox has disappeared and many are wondering what to do next. I love how you provide steps to keep moving in the same direction but how we move is modified. Thank you for the confirmation that what I and my team do are important to our clients and to education.
    What are you going to do next year that reflects this post?

  2. Eric Johnson says:

    The fact that standing on our ‘soapbox’ is working and that change in education is occurring because we’re standing up for what we believe in is, for me, a terrific thing. Evidence that our voices are being heard and that we are in charge of change.

  3. Jeff Zoul says:

    Thanks for sharing this great post! Unbelievable to learn about what happened to you at the first Twitter session you led; times have, indeed, changed–and for the better. Although you–and others should indeed continue as experts, leading in your areas that were previously “soap boxes” and are now gaining widespread acceptance, I suspect you will also find new soap boxes–and will not be too tired to take those on as well. Thanks again,

  4. If you want a soapbox, I will think of something. You can always count on me 🙂

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