I was recently reminded how important it is to be in control of your own story while working on the yearbook. I had some pictures that I had collected of our Mindlabs classes and a few STEM, VAPA and STEAM classrooms. As I was sharing the yearbook pages for teachers to review, they were responding that the pictures did not accurately capture what actually happens in their classrooms. This is so accurate because I just happened to go in and snap a few pictures for the yearbook when I did not have enough to represent their class or program in the yearbook! These chance shots of course did not show the innovative and exciting lessons that are happening all of the time because they were captured at random and unplanned times. This is not to say that we can never walk into a class and see amazing things happening sporadically, this is, gratefully, the norm at Feaster; however, what I find innovative and exciting may not be the best example of what the teacher is doing or what the students are capable of.
In one case in particular, I found the notebooks that students were creating were particularly organized and impressive. When I emailed the sample yearbook page with an adorable picture of the students holding up their journals and smiling, the response that I got back made me realize how important it is to control our own narrative. The teacher responded that while she liked the picture and appreciated the work being put into the yearbook, the pictures did not accurately show the amount of hands on activities being done by her students. Included with this email were about 8 other pictures of students actively learning with manipulatives and materials other than paper and pencil. This was exactly what I wanted…teachers to make their own narratives, to showcase the norms in their classrooms instead of relying on others to control that and misrepresent what is being done. I would never want to take over someone else’s story, but in the absence of knowledge, we often make our truth. To prevent someone else from telling our story, we must tell our own.
As I reflected on this experience, I realized how important it is for us to share what we are doing in our classrooms with others. It is so important to tell our own story of what is happening in our classroom to help others see beyond what is observed when someone stops in by chance, like when a grade level plans a walk through to see best practices, when we have parents touring the school, when we have scheduled observations and any other time we just want to share the great things we are doing.
Creating our own narrative and helping others see our own stories can be so powerful because it helps us lead the learning of our peers, helps us inspire other educators and may even help us grow as learners and professionals as well. Sharing our own stories can be done so many ways (talking in the lounge, sharing during collaboration, planning vertically, building a professional learning network, etc) and one way that I have found that has the most impact is by sharing with others online. When we share what we are doing on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, any online platform, we are helping inspire others and we are creating our own narrative and taking over our own classroom story so that what we are doing is not misinterpreted or misrepresented. So make sure that no one makes up their own truths about your classroom and what you are doing because of the absence of knowledge…tell your story and help inspire others!