Sometimes it’s a challenge to find your voice as a teacher – especially online. Here’s what I learnt from my pre-service teachers.
Last year, I boldly introduced Twitter to my class of Pre-Service Teachers. Twitter Chats have been transformative to me, giving me access to expertise across a range of topics, as well as supporting, fuelling and inspiring me.
So I was passionate in my desire to get my students all aboard the Twitter Express. To say they were surprised with my Twitter emphasis is an understatement. Only a couple were familiar with, and knowledgable about, the social media tool.
Initially we used twitter to summarise our discussions, to highlight key questions, and to capture interesting insights that emerged. Later I encouraged them to join Twitter Chats.
I was struck though – by their nervousness, their reluctance and resistance – as a whole.
What I have got to offer?
No-one wants to know what I think. I’m only a Pre-service Teacher.
These moments came flooding back when I chatted to Ashley Gravelle in my Pushing The Edge with Greg Curran Podcast.
Ashley, an early career teacher, talks about finding her way and her place in teaching.
- Press Play to Listen to my chat with Ashley (15 minutes duration). It’s a delightfully inspiring chat.
Ashley starts off by trying the approaches of her teaching colleagues:
I tried to do what every other teacher was doing and every time I tried I kinda sucked.
It wasn’t me. It wasn’t the kind of teacher that I am
Elsewhere, the self-doubts, and lack of confidence surface as she recalls feelings of ‘not being good enough’
As I reflect on Ashley’s situation and her mindset – from that time – a couple of questions came to mind
How might we inspire graduate teachers to run with their voice, and build a teaching practice that’s true to them, right from the start of their careers?
How might we challenge the negative and limiting self-talk of “I’m only a first year teacher, I better shut up and not stand out too much?”
I started thinking about how we break through our self-doubts, and start to find our Voice and run with it.
For Ashley, Twitter is critical to lifting her confidence, to knowing that she’s not alone. Here she finds a community that gels with her, that recognises and validates her ideas.
And you’ll hear Ashley’s style coming through loud and clear – as she shares a top classroom strategy that keeps both her class and herself positive and fired up.
So here’s the guts of it – my key take-aways relating to finding your Voice as a Teacher.
Vulnerability – or being prepared to be vulnerable – is key to finding your Voice and your communities.
Sharing what you think. Sharing what you do and persistently doing so is Critical. It’s Fundamental:
- even though you’re fighting with the ‘I’m only a Pre-service Teacher’, or other ‘I’m only a …..’ self-doubts;
- even though you may not get a positive reaction – or may you’ll get no response or feedback at all;
- even though you may feel like you’ve got a limited repertoire of ideas or strategies, in comparison to others.
Stepping outside what’s comfy and what’s safe. Risking Rejection. Risking Disinterest. Saying ‘I count. I matter. Here are my thoughts. Here are my ideas,’ is fundamental to finding your Voice and your Community.
It’s how you’ll come to realise:
Oh WOW, there are teachers who think like me (Ashley Gravelle)
As Ashley advises:
Keep Reaching Out cos there are Educators like you who are willing to listen and to help
BUT IT won’t just happen and you can’t expect others to do it for you.
You’ve gotta be prepared to be vulnerable AND share your tips, insights and experiences, as well as BEING THERE for others, supporting and encouraging them. Just like in face-to face relationships.
Remember that there will be other educators – looking at you:
How do they do it? How do they know so much?
How can I be like them? How can I do what they’re doing?
You’ll be Inspiring Them.
Hopes for Voice
My Pre-Service Teachers did dip their toes into the waters of Twitter Chats, daring to be vulnerable and sharing a thought or two.
When we next met, it was like they couldn’t wait to tell me that:
- Experienced teachers retweeted and favourited their ideas – their ‘Pre-Service Teacher’ ideas;
- Experienced Teachers replied and engaged with them – Pre-Service Teachers.
- Other teachers ‘followed’ them. (This was a considerable surprise to them).
Implicit in their comments were notions of pre-service teachers as ‘less than’ or having ‘little to offer.’
Yet by hesitatingly putting themselves out there – via our twitter adventures – it’s my hope that they begin to rustle these limiting notions.
It’s also my hope that they will:
- start to find others that inspire, challenge, and support them;
- develop a spirit of giving back; and
- build a foundation for running with their Voice – far more often.
You’d never believe it but we even held one of our classes online in a twitter chat. And it was even suggested that we do it again. Yahoo!!
Here’s one of my top podcasts relating to Finding Your Voice. I love the focus on our rich, complex and messy identities.
- Find Your Voice and Thrive Online: How do you find your voice – when there’s so many aspects that make us who we are? Listen to Jenny Moes’ incredibly rich and moving tale (19 mins).
Here’s some of my Voice and Thrive-related Posts:
- Stay Passionate, Stay True to You: Stay Fired up and Engaged. Step outside your ‘business as usual’ and connect with others who ‘get you’.
- How to be True to You – Letting Your True Colors Shine Through: Being true to yourself. It’s not always easy to do, right? Here’s some Tips how to do it.
- From Survive to Thrive if you’re hiding who you are: Sometimes living our truth, truly being who we are at work, can cost us. Learn 5 ways to get from Survive to Thrive – if you’re hiding who you are.
- If it resonates, Turn it up and Thrive: Are you looking to thrive as an educator? Yes? Then it’s key to tune into those practices that light your fire. Then ignite them on a regular basis.
Teachers Who’ve Found Their Voice
Don’t Miss my Pushing The Edge Podcast – Where I chat to Everyday Educators who are Taking Risks and Stepping Outside Their Comfort Zones.
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Pushing the Edge podcasts keep getting better and better. Its really nice to listen to other educators sharing and it is so helpful to hear that no matter where they live, many of the challenges are similar, if not the same. Very encouraging to listen and hear how someone else met the same situation as you, and rose above it, solved it, and their thoughts on it.. We can learn so much from our fellow teachers!
Thanks so much Jill. Yes I agree so many of our issues as teachers cross borders and countries. And I love to hear how other teachers work through those issues just like you.