Group Membership and Validation

I have been reading the commentary from others about the ideas which have arisen from the conversation that Steve Hargadon’s conversation with Will Richardson about blogging. Of particular interest to me are the comments from an old friend, Andy Carvin on his about avoiding the usual pool of thoughts and Jeff Utecht’s posting which led me back to Bud the Teacher and David Jake’s comments on some of the complaints that it is difficult to reach a critical mass of readership in the thoughts that we choose to share.

While walking the dog this afternoon, in between catching the afternoon’s football games (thank goodness for TiVo, since I am a one television family with two teenage daughters. I can catch a game within 45 minutes), my thoughts were divided into two distinct ideas.

The first is that one of the motivators that have gotten me to recommit to blogging once again, with more gusto this time, was the k12 Online conference. Through the encouragement of the conference organizers and others who participated in this conference, the various post conference events, I was motivated to recommit to blogging. It corresponds with my belief that not only to students have to develop the technology and communication skills to raise themselves above the white noise and make themselves unique and distinctive, that we as educators have to raise ourselves above the white noise that our students experience in the course of the day. One of the ways that this has to occur is that an individual has to participate and work at the skill, whether it be blogging, podcasting, use of wikis, skype casts, or whatever collaborative medium that we determine will be most effective for spreading the message that we want to share. We should encourage all to participate and not be exclusive. As a teacher, I am trying to encourage my students to contribute and collaborate, because through sharing and sometimes disagreeing, our ideas become stronger.

I can personally attest to the fact it is through these baby steps and the encouragement of others who are in the “club”, Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach, Vicki Davis, Fred Bartels, and Arvind Grover to some of the thoughts that I have shared. It has also been extremely exciting to find out the author of a book that I have blogged about, Greg Mortenson, somehow found my post and commented on it, half-way around the world. The validation of “me” is important in fueling the ego and providing validation of the thoughts and ideas that I have been publishing. Without this feedback, we would get discouraged and eventually lose momentum or not be willing to share those thoughts and ideas.

My second thoughts are related to what David Jakes shared in his post:

Those of you that have read blogs for a while will recognize these names. Stephen. Will. Miguel. Wes. David, Clarence, Dean, Darren, Vicky, George, Bud. You know who they are without even me adding last names, don’t you? Would you consider these people a group?

159714144_040c6c1501_m.jpgThinking about one of my first loves, baseball, or thinking about the football games that I was watching, it occurred to me that there will always be a set of superstar bloggers. What we have to remember is that they may not remain superstar bloggers forever. As they age, they may lose their ability to capture the audience. They may tire or burn out. The aspects of their life may change. Every year, there are new players who start their professional experience. In the case of baseball, it is a long journey through the minor leagues, where players have to experience in smaller markets, gaining experience and maturity. When they are ready, they get moved up to a larger audience who is more demanding. Some will wash out, some will be happy with that level of engagement. Eventually, they will make it to the “major leagues.” Even in the majors, there are maybe 40- 50 superstars, but there are also 700+ others who are just as important participating at that level. Some of those will become superstars in time, some will be like journeymen ballplayers, the left-handed relievers or a Julio Franco, who seem to be around forever who make solid contributions, each which are important, sometimes more important for all the the advancement of the sport. In baseball, first there was Honus, the Big 6, Nap, Ty, Tris. They were later replaced by the Babe, Lou, the Rajah, the Big Train. They have been replaced now by the Rocket, Cal, Big Mac, Sammy. Each of those players have now been replaced by Manny, Big Papi, Derek, A Rod. The perpetual hands of time will bring others into the lexicon and history.

I know that I at this point in time, I am a minor-league blogger. I am comfortable with that. Reaching superstar status is not important for me. For me, right now, it is important to share my ideas and have the time to reflect on my teaching and on the leadership that I can bring to the teachers not only in my school, but for those whom I will present for, and others who are starting whom I can mentor. Some may be better than me. I am comfortable with that. But I will keep trying, keep stretching myself to become better and more skilled. But I realize that it will take time, energy, and effort to achieve.


5 thoughts on “Group Membership and Validation

  1. Love it! Any time you can use a baseball analogy to explain something is a good post in my book. I’m not sure you are a minor-leaguer…not sure we have enough educational bloggers to have a minor-leagues. I like how you explain the roles we all play. A team of all A-Rods is not good. You have a lot of talented infielders but not a pitcher, a catcher and the rest of the team. The blogosphere is like that I think. You just stepped up and hit a long one, unknown? Maybe, unappreciated for your contribution? Probably. But love what you’re doing? Hopefully.

    We blog because it means something to us, it does something for us. We join groups or belong to teams for the same reason. I’m not the superstar on the techlearning blog and I’m OK with that…I really don’t want to be, don’t want that pressure, but I do fill a role that they wanted.

    I played baseball in college. I pitched and was a set up man. I would go a couple games without playing and then come in for maybe an inning, maybe a batter. That was my role, sure I wanted to be a starter, but I didn’t ‘have it’ so I played my role to the best of my ability. We all have a role in the blogosphere and it’s not always us that decides what that role might be. How I ever got over 200 people to subscribe to my RSS feed I’ll never know. I’m I a ‘big player’? I don’t think so…do I fill a role as an overseas educator in the blogosphere? I think so. I swear if I wasn’t in China my blog would be half as popular.

  2. Jeff, thank you for the validation. My baseball career ended during my freshman year of high school, when I was “too small” to continue. I was always a good player, not great, the kind of guy who will do the job and not make mistakes. And thanks for the heads up about Clay Burrell’s blog. I will definitely have to check it out in more detail later this afternoon. What school did you pitch for in college?

  3. Very good insights. Thanks for dropping by my blog earlier. Figured I would return the favour! I agree with you completely, the sands of time are always shifting. In any area which people gather to share ideas and thoughts, there will always be those who stand out and to whom the others look. I know that when I did write my post, it was more that I was looking to make contacts with people to share information, whether as an administrator or as a teacher. I teach a Communication Producation Technology class and we have been experimenting with audacity and podcasting. I am looking to make contact with someone to share our podcasts (if we can get them uploaded) and get feedback. Also, I want to share different things that people have tried to get teachers to begin to use different technologies.
    You’re right that the reason we do this is for the students, not for the recognition. I am just hoping to begin to make some contacts so that I don’t have to do this in isolation. I want to expose teachers to the whole Skypecasts and discussing education from outside our little corner. And I want to introduce other administrators to these tools and get them involved. I think that all of our administrators should have Skype – no more long distance calls between administrators.
    Again, thanks for dropping by. I’ll be reading!

  4. Well Vinny, This seems to be the blog post to read and post to. When in your staff development mode, tell teachers how important it is to blog and comment, I only started 15 months ago and I feel I’ve gotten much more from the comments I write to others and from reading other blogs. Sure, I get to write my own blogs, but usually I do that when I have a message and a purpose. I get a huge benefit from the after effects. Hope to see some of your teachers commenting too. Cheryl Oakes

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