“When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them.“
– Andy Warhol
I remember when I read the newspaper in the morning.
I can remember when only the nerdy kids knew what to do with computers.
I can remember a time when I thought cell phones were pretentious and social media seemed like a distraction.
I used to think long division was an important skill and that using graphing calculators was akin to cheating.
I remember when gay couples couldn’t walk down the street holding hands.
If they were still alive, my parents could tell me about the time before color television, before cable, before plastic, before calculators, before interracial marriage.
All of this, which seemed so normal at the time, has changed. How many of us can imagine living without a computer, a cell phone, and instant access to information? How many math teachers could teach now without a graphing calculator? People are free to love who they love, and even in the U.S., get married (we still have a long way to go on this one). In each of these cases there was some tipping point, a point where the rest of the world just got on board with change, and embraced the new normal.
It wasn’t that long ago when I said “I don’t do twitter. I don’t have time for it.”
I tried twitter a few years ago, but didn’t get it. It was a time-suck; just another social media site; I have facebook and that’s enough. And then the invitation: “How about we have lunch together next Tuesday and I’ll show you how it works?” Okay, why not, I can spare 30 minutes to see if it’s worthwhile. Thanks to Tricia Friedman for being my tipping point. She suggested amazing, innovative educators for me to follow, still is. She showed me how to research using hashtags. She even got me to start blogging. She’s encouraged me every step of the way. I’ve found great ideas to upgrade my practice. Call me grateful. It has changed everything and it’s only been a few weeks.
“I don’t do twitter. I don’t have time for it.” It’s a pretty common refrain. George Couros writes about this in his blog post from May 25 and says it’s time to restate the problem. Is it really about time? Or are you struggling with finding its value? Are you afraid? He suggests asking these questions instead:
- How will my students benefit from this practice?
- I am not seeing the relevance of this for teaching and learning…could you give me specifics of how this would impact my practice?
- How would you suggest incorporating what you are suggesting into my position?
- What has been the biggest benefits for your own practice?
- If I was to do this, what would it replace that I am doing now?
I found my tipping point by changing my framework from a time thing to a value thing, and in the process have found a new community. I’m especially enjoying the conversations I’m now having at work with those who have found their tipping point and those on the brink. I’m learning so much and realizing that we all have so much to offer not only in terms of ideas, but also in terms of support. We are all amateurs, and we’re all in this together.
“The key to change… is to let go of fear.”
– Rosanne Cash
I know fear kept me from wanting to change, but letting go and embracing my inner amateur has opened up a whole new world. It’s changing the conversations with my students. It’s making me think about teaching in a whole new way. I’m seeing what true collaboration is. I’m loving my conversations with Cate Jarvis about what mentoring and support is. I understand now, John Dalesio, why ATLs matter. I get your passions, Vicky Wasner. I appreciate your willingness to try something new, Brad Bond. I want more of it, and I want to bring more colleagues on board and be their tipping point.
What moments in your life or career have been tipping points?
What did it take to get you on twitter? What will it take to get you on twitter?
How will you help others to make the leap?