June 11, 2011 by jonmillymiles
I get a lot of negativity in my job. In fact, having read what I’ve written so far the one thing that I am negative about is negativity.
It’s not that I don’t mind people being negative, it’s more a case of: why do they have to be so narrow minded?
The answers vary from lack of interest to fear of technology and the unknown. There can be personal factors such as low self confidence, or arrogance that there can be no better way. But ultimately giving the ownership and responsibility for learning to a learner is both the hardest and greatest thing that a teacher can do.
Hardest because a teacher must have control over a lesson in order to achieve the required outcome. They need to know that the students know what they are meant to know and how do they know that they know unless they have been able to tell them in the normal way? To give up control. To free something. To allow something to exist with no interference is something that is abhorrent to some teachers. They need to control because if they don’t what else are they going to do?
Greatest because a free learner is an interested learner. A responsible learner does so out of pride and professionalism and takes ownership of their successes. A responsible learner has nobody else to blame when it all goes wrong!
But I work in a culture where failure is not an option and, ultimately, giving ownership to students is seen as a risk. So I have to chip away at the culture bit by bit… or in this case: email by email.
You see, what I have started to do is to change my signature file from something quite serious to something more positive and light hearted. Let me give you a bit of history…
… about two to three years ago I spotted someone’s signature that said “Please do not print out this e-mail unless you absolutely have to… blah blah blah” and I though I could do the same thing… but funnier.
My signature read: “Save trees… eat a beaver!”
Now I know that there are about six people at work who have adopted it as their “green” slogan at the bottom of their e-mails… it says, “I’m funny, but environmentally aware”
What I have done now is to place motivational quotes at the bottom of my signature. To try and break down those barriers – not by arguing with people but through subliminal motivation. They may not agree with it outright, but it will stick somewhere. I keep changing them too so that they do not stagnate. So here’s a list of some that I’ve used to date:
“Within you right now is the power to do things you have never dreamed possible. This power becomes available just as soon as you change your beliefs.”
“My Mama told me when I was young, we are all born superstars” – Lady Gaga
“The biggest obstacle to success is the fear of failure” – Sven Goran Eriksson
The idea is to change the personality who made the quote to engage different audiences and to try and change the message so that it does not seem like brainwashing – as I’m not ready to recruit my zombie army yet. I’m still waiting for that breakthrough moment but in the meantime the quotes work for one person at least: ME!!