I just can’t do it all: The connected educator letdown


Teaching | Monday, February 24, 2014

I just can’t do it all: The connected educator letdown

I Just Can't Do It All: The Connected Educator Letdown

Being a connected educator is great, but it can be overwhelming, too. There’s so much to do, and we just can’t do it all. That’s OK. Here are some ways to cope. (flickr / hankenstein)

Twitter, Google Plus, various blogs and other places online are great sources of ideas.

At any moment, I can find a wealth of information about the maker education movement.

Ways to keep my classroom organized.

Everything I need to know about using a Chromebook.

Even sites to help you find better apps.

I see posts and videos about great educators and the great things that they’re doing almost every day.

And, being the self-reflective person that I am, it often makes me have the same reaction:

“Wow, that’s great! Look at what that teacher is doing. Look what her students have created. Look at the impact his classroom is having on the world.

“Why am I not doing that? Why aren’t my students doing that? Man, what kind of a teacher am I if we’re not doing that?

“I hope I’m not doing them a disservice.”

Sometimes, the reaction is more like this:

“I’d really like to try this new tool and integrate it in my class. Wow, it’s kind of complicated. But these other teachers are embracing it and their students are succeeding.

“I hope I’m not doing my students a disservice.”

I’m guessing that I’m not the only one that has experienced this phenomenon:

The connected educator letdown.

The great thing about being a connected educator is having so many people, resources and ideas at our disposal.

The bad thing about being a connected educator: the same thing. We’re connected to SO MANY things that it can have a negative impact.

So I’ve come to an important conclusion:

I just can’t do it all. I can do only what I can do. And that’s OK.

Someone out there is going to be using different teaching techniques with me and having great success. That’s OK.

There will be lots of sites and apps and ideas out there worth using, and there will be many of them that I can’t (or won’t) get to. That’s OK too.

As much as I’d like to jump in and start all of my new ideas all at once, it’s a recipe for disaster. (I already tried that once: launched a paperless classroom before I was totally ready, and it blew up in my face.)

A great model for this is the great Vicki Davis (aka the Cool Cat Teacher). Vicki is a full-time teacher in Georgia in addition to IT director, blogging and presenting responsibilities. She’s about as busy a teacher as I can think of.

Vicki introduces one major new digital focus in her class each year. One. (Well, maybe two … she has blogged about this and I couldn’t find the post.)

It was wikis one year. She added Evernote another year.

If a great teacher like Vicki Davis only adds one major element to her ed tech repertoire each year, then I’m OK with that being my guide.

NOT every new tool that comes my way.

Because I would be crazy to try to add too much too soon. In fact, it has made me crazy to add too much too soon.

I just can’t do it all.

And that’s OK.

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  • […] idea of Matt Miller’s post “I just can’t do it all: The connected educator letdown” really resonated with me. It talked about only incorporating one or two things a year, because […]

  • Sara says:

    Amen! Everyone loses when teachers are overwhelmed, but everyone wins when we keep inching forward and growing little by little. Your post is especially timely, as the call to “make it new” is stronger than ever at this time of year. Thanks for helping us all maintain a bit of perspective!

  • Gary Harwell says:

    He’s right. Every week i have a different teacher do a presentation about a website that can be used for teaching. We cover a bunch of good stuff but they just can’t use it all. I make sure they know that we re just sharing information to be used later or for familiarization purposes.

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