Stay Fired up and Engaged. Step outside your ‘business as usual’ and connect with others who ‘get you’.
This Post is Inspired by my chat with Aussie Educator, Jenny Moes. Listen here:
Ever felt like you’re putting in 110% – working at the top of your game – being really innovative – stepping outside the box – but no-one seems to notice or care? Perhaps you keep facing knock-backs or opposition.
Ever felt like you just can’t bring Who You Are – to your workplace?
Maybe you’re Pushing The Edges in ways that challenge the ‘business as usual’. If so, this post is for you.
It’s all about Finding Your Tribe/s – where you can push the edges in your own inimitable ways.
My key contention here – Sometimes you gotta step outside your ‘normal’ settings, or step outside the known and take a chance or punt on you. And here’s four examples by way of illustration.
1. Get Out to Connect with Your People
A decade ago, I completed my PhD which challenged the conventional ‘inclusive’ approaches to supporting same-sex attracted youth (SSAY) in schools.
Little progress had been made over the years: Research continued to show that schools were one of the most unsafe places for SSAY.
The same ineffective approaches however, premised on same-sex attracted youth as victims, hiding and invisible, continued to be advocated over and over again.
‘Top-down’ approaches encompassing information provision and policy initiatives were employed by well-meaning teachers or schools. Yet problematically, SSAY stayed hidden and the structures that privileged heterosexuality remained undisturbed.
What did work though – had little to do with schools.
Same-sex attracted youths’ lives improved – in respect to bullying, loneliness and isolation when they connected with others like them – outside school.
This occurred in local GLBTI youth support groups, online, and other non-school based settings where their sexualities were recognised, visible, and affirmed (unlike in many schools).
Here they could be open about their sexuality, interacting with others like them. Here they could tap into the knowledge and resources of other same-sex attracted people. Here they could be supported in ways that were deemed problematic for most schools.
In the years that have passed since – those schools that are making a difference – support SSAY to be open and support them to take charge. And the premise that SSAY thrive when they get to meet and interact with others like them continues to hold true. The old failed approaches still dominate though – and school remains the most unsafe place for SSAY.
2. Fit In by Getting Out
After my Pushing The Edge Podcast chat with Jenny Moes – I began thinking about ‘Fitting In’.
Jenny, a K-12 Teacher, says she’s always been quite open about who she is. They’ve been few issues relating to her sexuality or her family.
I wondered about this capacity to be ‘out’ afterward. For the more open I was about my sexuality as a Catholic primary school teacher, the more problematic it became for me.
I felt like I had to get out of the Catholic system – to really LIVE my Voice – to be true to myself. (Read My Posts about this period)
Something about the ways I performed my sexuality combined with issues of gender and belief systems (and other factors) made it problematic in stark contrast to Jen’s situation.
Staying within – required too much self-censoring, too much monitoring of how I moved and talked. I had to get out to Find my Tribe, to Find my Voice and Live as Me.
Jen however, didn’t have to get out. She could stay put and still be true to who she is.
3. Embrace and Run with your Weirdness
Doug Robertson, an Elementary School Teacher and author, runs a twitter chat called #Weirded. It’s unlike any other twitter chat out there.
Recognising the lack of space for weird educators like himself, he created a twitter chat that proudly and deliberately flouts the norms in terms of form, style and content.
Doug also lives loudly online – confident in his difference – thereby attracting other quirky educators.
The other critical component though are the weirdees – who are willing to rack their brains every week; and are willing to be vulnerable, and show their true weird colors.
In taking chances to step outside the mainstream – they realise, as Doug indicates in my chat with him (LISTEN below), that they’re not alone – there are other weird teachers like them.
4. Step Out to Connect and Find Resonance
Twitter chats have impacted on so many aspects of my personal and professional life.
Here I can hang out with tribes of all persuasions that inspire, validate and nourish me. But this collegial connection doesn’t happen by chance.
Like many educators, I’m stepping outside the workplace norm in being an active participant in twitter chats.
Like many educators, I’ve checked out many chats, seeing what does and doesn’t draw me in.
Tentatively I’ve dipped my toes in – daring to think that someone might be interested in my thoughts or ideas.
Over time I’ve grown more confident. I’ve been prepared to reveal more of my true colors that has lead to connections that I’d never dream possible.
Yet there’s much more that contributes to the building of awesome Personal Learning Networks.
I’d characterise it as a spirit of giving that’s pervasive:
the free (and without conditions) sharing of tips, ideas and resources;
the provision of support to others;
the willingness to spruik others’ posts, podcasts, videos, and resources.
It’s a generosity that happens because people are prepared to step up, reach out, and give back.
A Final Realisation or Two
In taking risks and stepping outside what’s usual or normal – pay close attention to your friends and colleagues.
You’ll no doubt be all fired up to tell them about your adventures.
Before you even speak – some will comment how you’re radiating like you haven’t for a long time. Some will notice that there’s something different about you.
As you share your new worlds with them – they’re keen to know more. They want to be part of your life – as you are right now – not the person they used to know. They want to support you in any way they can.
Pay close attention – these are the friends and colleagues to treasure.
Step Out Further & Connect – Resources
Stepping Out is about confronting our Comfort Zones. Here’s my Resource Page which has Tips & Insights.
How do you MAKE CHANGE HAPPEN (MCH) – when you’re pushing issues that are deemed problematic in some ways. Here’s my MCH Resource Page.
Sometimes despite the best of intentions you end up at odds with your colleagues or your school.
LISTEN TO Doug Robertson and Erin Stevenson Tips – in Pushing The Edge Podcast (5:52 mark onwards).
Jenny Moes also features with Thrive Tips (9:16 mark onwards).
— Kory Graham (@tritonkory) December 8, 2014
— Jon Harper (@Jonharper70bd) December 8, 2014