The First Disruptors: Inspired Disruption


Editors Note: This post is part of a series on the Disruptors Channel called The First Disruptors. We asked our contributors: who was it that inspired you to become the educator that you are? Here are their responses.

For me, the notion of being a disruptor has been in my blood since I was born the middle child with an older and younger brother. You learn very quickly how to complain and question everything. My older brother was able to do everything because he was the oldest and my younger brother got away with everything because he was the younger of the boys. Me, I was stuck in the middle and pushed back on and complained about everything. Just ask my mother…she will attest to that fact.

In terms of education, I am not sure I could name one person that inspired me to disrupt things I was doing. However, I can certainly think of many individuals that pushed my thinking and challenged me to do something different or better. I would like to thank these individuals even though they are probably not even aware of the impact they had on me.

The first person that had an influence on the work I do is Steve Dembo. While listening to Steve speak at ISTE in Denver, he shared a story about his own kids and the notion of sharing their work in a public and digital space. He went so far as to talk about the idea that we should be pushing for the creation of digital footprints at and early age. It is because of him and his comments that I have pushed my school to open up channels for sharing student work in a digital space. I now share student work and class activities in many spaces and push back on the notion that we are to fear student’s work and names being “out there”. In addition, he was the catalyst for my own emergence in the digital space and share my own work.

Another individual that has inspired me to disrupt some of my notions of education is an unknown tweeter. One day I was engaged in a conversation with some educators on twitter where I shared with them the Innovation Day my school had recently done. One of the replies to me was, “That’s great, but what do they do every other day?”  Essentially, this individual pushed back on the idea that if this is such a good idea for student learning why not do it every day. While I was not able to do that, I did expand the idea into a weekly Passion Project activity that has gone against the traditional class and yet has been wildly successful in motivating students and inspiring learning. I feel badly that I didn’t favorite the tweet and give proper credit to the individual that pushed me but I am thankful for that push.

The final person(s) is actually a handful that I will collectively call the “Connected Administrators”. To name a few they would be Eric Sheninger, George Couros, Lyn Hilt, Chris Wejr, and Chris Lehmann. Many people know I spoke out against a need for administrators and questioned their value within a school building. You might be thinking, “why I would give credit to a group of people that I claimed to not be needed?” Well, the answer is simple. They are examples of what leaders should be but far too many are not even close to being. It is because of the work they share and my interactions with them that cause me to question the value of so many traditional administrators. They have inspired me to disrupt the notion of a building administrator and pushback on the traditional role far too many have taken in our schools.

Being a disrupter, a naysayer, an antagonist or any other name you come up with is less about being a pain in the rear and more about doing what is best for kids. I will continue to be inspired by those I interact with and hope to push others to disrupt a little as well. A sincere thank you to those that have inspired me in some way to push back and disrupt the traditional notions of education far too many hold to be true.

Image Credit: StevenDepolo in Flickr

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