Are we really in it for the right reasons?

Are we really all in it for the same reasons? I recently attended ISTE in Denver, Colorado. It was an amazing learning experience and best of all I got to meet up with all my Twitter buddies. As I walked around the conference center and attended nightly events one question continued to repeat in my head: Are we all in it for the kids?

I learned quickly from observing and talking with “educators” that the answer to my question was no. Not just a regular no, but an astounding NO, an H-E-Double Hockey Sticks NO! I immediately begin to question everything I thought to be true about the great blogs, book, and tweets I have read. It could not have been more blatant that there are “educators” out there completely for profit and publicity.

I began to think about Twitter followers, which mind you does not mean much to me. I love to follow people because I want to learn from them. I am honored when people follow me to learn from and collaborate with me. I have never been conscious of the number of followers I have. I really wasn’t aware it was something to be conscious about. Then my whole little naive world that all educators were in it for the kids became ever so apparent when I heard someone say “I have 135,000 Twitter followers.”

Let me break it down for you all who care so much about the number of followers you have. This individual who has 135,000 followers is only “impacting” 3% of the entire USA teacher population. I repeat 3%!!! National Center for Education Statistics projects there are 3.5 million teachers in the United States. I know Twitter is a Global community, so truly the percentage of educators you are impacting with 135,000 followers is much smaller than 3%.

I give you the data to simply ask what are we all in this (education) for? Are we in it for recognition and profit or are we truly in it for our kids and the future of our world? It is very sad how many educators walked around ISTE as if they were celebrities. Wake up people! You are in education, this is ISTE, not Hollywood! Some “educators” too good to talk to people who gave them their “Educleb” status by following them on Twitter. Others there to sell the latest copy of their book and to make a profit. Then there were real educators, the people who are trying to transform education by pouring out their heart into the classroom and their schools. Those are the people I want to know.

These real educators are practicing what they preach on a daily basis. Through blood, sweat, and tears these people are doing everything the can for the kids! They are the people you see on Twitter sharing what they’re doing, asking for feedback, and improving their craft for their students. They are not the people who are sharing things and then in the next tweet saying they don’t believe in the exact same thing they just shared. These people are not out for money, even though it’s appreciated for their hard work, theses people are true educators.

I had the experience of hanging out with Doug Robertson who wrote He’s The Weird Teacher and The Teaching Text. Not once did he mention his books to people as they came up to talk to him. Not once did he check to see if they were following on Twitter. Instead, he got to know people, he collaborated with them on ideas to implement in his and their own classrooms next year, he shared stories about his kids, and best of all he listened to those who wanted to get to know him.

I write all this not to break your heart that everything you ever thought about our colleagues in education is not true, but to make you aware of the people who are doing this for all the right reasons. Please reflect on why you are an educator, why you are on social media, and why you love what you do. If you answer is make money, gain recognition, exploit your students or yourself for profit, or to share things you don’t believe in please unfollow me and let me know to unfollow you. Also, it would be great if you do answer yes to any of those questions if you just resigned from education because our kids do not need you as a role model.

    Doug Timm says:
    July 6, 2016 Reply

    I could not agree more with you. I always ask, what are you doing? What can you show me that works with students? And I want to ask for references of people they work with to see if their non-connected educator friends have an opinion of them.

    Doug says:
    July 6, 2016 Reply

    This is great and I’m so very flattered you called me out like that. I feel like I should mention I brought a few copies of my first book and sold them all, but that was never the goal of an interaction. Meeting people and hallway conversations are the best part. That’s what I bring back to my classroom.

    Michelle Carlson says:
    July 6, 2016 Reply

    I loved the honesty and candor of this post! 🙂 The work of educating kids and all of the pieces and parts it takes to support that work is, in my opinion, one of the most challenging and honorable jobs one can pursue. I am grateful that I get to work in education in ways that allow me to support the amazing people who do it everyday. Although I am not a classroom teacher, I spend the majority of my time in classrooms supporting teachers and I have a huge amount of love and respect for those who are there because it is their calling.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of those folks who works on my own to support education in my community and beyond, but I don’t do it for the money either. I do it because I believe in this work and it’s my calling to support it. 🙂

    Many thanks to you and all of those out there who do the hard work of building bright futures for kids!

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