On being a Guru

DEN_Guru_2014Last night I became a DEN Guru along with Dennis Grice (@dgrice), Dave Tchozewski (@daveski61), Dacia Jones (@dacia92) and Sandi Dennis(@sandidennis)!

These people are all amazing educators who I met at DENSI 2013 and I’m honoured to be among them and the other 20 DEN Gurus from previous years.

But, what does it mean to be a Guru?

The website indicates: “DEN Gurus are STAR Discovery Educators who possess expertise in one or more pedagogical topics (e.g., Differentiated Instruction, Project Based Learning, etc.), have demonstrated their expertise through a variety of professional experiences, and advocate for the meaningful integration of Discovery Education digital content across their area(s) of expertise.

But, what does that mean and what does it mean to me?

When I was a pre-service teacher I was given the advice to “close the classroom door, keep your head down, don’t worry about what anyone else was doing, and do your job.”   Wow… 30 years later, I’m glad I got past that advice.  I knew it wasn’t the way to participate in this career.  I knew teaching (and learning) was a social activity and I knew I wanted to (had to) talk about it. I definitely wouldn’t have lasted very long if I’d taken that advice.

Unfortunately some teachers are still closing the door and keeping their head down – they must be very lonely.

I’ve worked with many wonderful, talented, caring and devoted teachers over the last 30 years.  Most of them do what they do, and neither seek nor receive much acknowledgement of what they offer to the thousands of students on whom they have an impact throughout their career.  Teachers are usually very humble and don’t really like blowing their own horn or waving their flag – though they often eagerly blow horns and wave flags for others!

Dean Shareski (@shareski) was recently in Halifax and worked with two groups of grade 7 teachers. In his keynotes, Dean stressed the importance of sharing. He encouraged all teachers to share with each other through blogging or any other means.  The PD he participated in with the Halifax teachers was based on the unconference model.  Teachers shared their knowledge, questions and experience and supported each other in learning to improve their practice and ultimately improve the learning experience for their students. They were able to do that because over the last several months they’ve come to trust one another.

In order to share effectively, we –  teachers in general – need to become more comfortable with acknowledging our value and the skills we possess.  We all have strengths and if we allow ourselves to accept and believe that, then we can allow ourselves to share.

I don’t personally think I have a great deal more to offer than thousands of other educators across North America because I know we all have a great deal to offer each other.  I don’t claim to be the answer to anyone’s problems or the final word on anything.  However, largely because of the DEN, I’ve come to realize and accept that I have things to offer that may be of help and interest to others.  I hope that by becoming a DEN Guru I’ll more people will find out that I’m here and might be able to help them in some way. Although I have difficulty thinking of myself as an “expert” I know that if you’re interested in using digital media and technology and the amazing resources found in Discovery Education to improve and enhance your teaching practice then I can likely help you as you travel along that path.

That path is an exciting one these days.  There’s so much to know, and so much more to learn.  There are amazing people who can help you both locally and at a distance and that is more possible now then it’s ever been.

So whether you’re in my district or in a far corner of the planet… let’s learn together, sometime soon!