Edtech leaders who are at the peak of their careers are prolific on social media. These leaders are followed by thousands of educators. They share stories of how they worked hard to achieve success through keynote speeches and recorded talks. Their tip tidbits and tiny insights zip around multiple Twitter though multiple hashtag circles. They seem to have it all figured out. Followers applaud their success through likes and retweets and send messages to seek their opinions and answers to problems. Of course, the accomplishments of these educators deserves celebration and the sharing their learning benefits many teachers and students. However, there is a danger to this “single story.”
These trending teachers--Wait, no.--These trending educators set an unrealistic expectation for teachers who are just beginning to experiment with using technology in their classrooms. There is a strong focus on sharing today’s best tools and best pedagogy. Only hearing stories of success is overwhelming and intimidating. Where are the stories of the schools who still share computer labs? What about the districts without Google Apps for Education? What about teachers whose administrators do not support technology? What about the students whose parents will not sign release forms? These stories are not heard. Instead, a single story emerging in the edtech community is a fairy tale--currently complete with a pretty blonde princess. Even though current trends and social norms make it challenging to implement, the edtech community should taken into account the warnings Chimamanda Ngozi gives in her TED Talk, “The Danger of Telling a Single Story.” As Ngozi explains, “When we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise." Instead of believing yet another fairy tale, we should be working toward creating a diverse, lively paradise filled with the stories of educators at varying levels of edtech integration.
Fortunately, my current assignments are pushing my cohort mates and I to tell our stories. But, before I created the Storify of my tweets for the #edl680ig project, I did not even realize I was telling a story. I knew that I was sharing the learning taking place in my classroom--both mine and my students’. As I began to piece my Instagram photos together, I noticed that I was telling a story. I am telling the story of a teacher who is trying to implement current trends and novel ideas into my teaching, but I am also a student with hobbies that balance my academic activities. I am not a rockstar, ninja, or pirate--nor am I seeking to be. I just want to be a good teacher. I know that by following the learning of others, sharing my learning, and taking advantage of opportunities to learn with other educators, I am becoming a better teacher.
The single-story that is widely followed by educators on Twitter is a story that leads to notoriety, influence, and personal financial gain--not to the classroom. Sharing the stories of classroom teachers who are still learning provides a collective learning environment--instead of one in which the learners follow an expert.