Image via WikipediaA legal blogger I’m friends with, Dennis Kennedy, once stated that within 18 months of getting a blog, most people will have a new job (here’s the link to Dennis’s actual blog post on the topic).Sort of a spoof on Moore’s law, but I haven’t found it to be too far off. I landed a new job within a couple of years of starting Teach42, and owe the blog 100% of the credit for me being hired. I’ve seen many many fantastic educators transition to technology facilitator positions, or go off into consulting, and more often than not it’s because of the exposure they received from their blog. Bigger and better is a wonderful thing.
There’s a flip side to that though. I also know quite a few educators that are becoming more and more disillusioned with their jobs and are leaving teaching, and I can’t help but wonder how much of the blame falls on being part of an open network. Allow me to explain.
Example #1. Teacher A works in a decent district. It isn’t a dream job, but nor is it a slum. She does her job, does it well and loves working with the kids. Then she joins Classroom 2.0 and Twitter and other related sites. She reads about Chris Lehmann and SLA, she hears the great things that Eric Langhorst is doing with students in Missouri, she watches the amazing projects that Vicki Davis comes up with in Georgia… Then all of a sudden her school doesn’t look so great anymore. Why isn’t her school as tech savvy and ‘with it’ as those other schools? Why aren’t her administrators more on the cutting edge of educational theory, and why aren’t more teachers upset by this? Gradually, she starts to realize that her school is just behind and always will be. It’s not worth the time and effort to make the change there, perhaps she’d be better off trying to find a new school to teach at that ‘gets it’. A school where she can really spread her wings with like minded colleagues. Time to dust off the resume.
Example #2. Teacher B goes to a conference and attends a session about forming a personal learning network. He loves the idea and jumps on board. He registers for Twitter, joins a few communities, creates his own blog. He starts getting all these crazy ideas for doing things differently with his students. However, whenever he brings up an idea to his department head, he gets shot down. The DH is ok with blogging, but wants it to be behind the firewall. He doesn’t understand that you miss out on the ‘magic’ if you don’t do it publicly. Podcasts get shot down entirely, and most Web 2.0 sites that he wants to try are blocked. He requests that some get unblocked but nothing seems to happen for days. Gradually he gets more and more upset that most educators are able to take advantage of these great tools, but he isn’t. He is frustrated with his department head’s lack of support, the IT departments lack of response, and can’t figure out why more teachers won’t raise their voice at the injustice of it all. He feels like he has a better grasp of the needs of technology in education than anyone else he works with. Consequently, when a position opens up for a technology integration specialist, he starts giving it some serious thought…
Those are just two examples cobbled together from several conversations I’ve had with people over the past few months. In a nutshell, the newly-gone-natives are getting restless. Being close to people who are amazing examples of the best integration success stories in the world has led to mountain sized feelings of the grass being greener elsewhere. It’s leading to a great many people to think to themselves either, “Surely other schools are more ‘with it’ than mine” or even worse, “Education is doomed because nobody gets it besides we few.”
These are people that were happy, productive, and doing right by students before they got connected. Could it be that the PLN like the Matrix? Once you’re connected, you can never go back. And education is a lot dirtier than most people realized.
Image by dullhunk via FlickrTake the red pill if you want, but once you go down that rabbit hole, you may wind up depressed, disillusioned, and with a strong desire to seek greener pastures. Is being hyper-connected bad for morale?