Educators from all around the globe are taking part in conversations where ideas are being shared, discussed, tweaked and re-shared all the time. The internet allows us to access information from so many sources in such a short time. (Check out this article which describes What happens in an internet second ) We often see ideas from many years ago resurface and get recycled and labelled with a catchy new term. It can be quite challenging to pinpoint where the original idea came from without extensive research.
Educators are taking risks and trying new methods in their classrooms. Methods that focus on 21st Century learning, that often involve the use of technology, that are bringing about transformative systemic change in education. I have been in many conversations recently where someone is sharing the wonderful new approach that a teacher is exploring. They’ve been excited to share a success story only to have someone respond with, “Yes, I’ve heard of that before”, “Oh, that’s the flavour the month is it?” or “That’s not their idea you know”. These types of energy zapping comments are an attempt to diminish the idea and/or its impact.
Does it really matter where the idea originally came from? Isn’t the main thing that this particular teacher is trying something new? Taking the initiative and working to enhance the learning experience for their students? That they were willing to step out of their comfort zone and take a chance with a new approach?
I am not saying that you shouldn’t give people credit. Not at all! Did you read a book and were inspired to try something that was suggested? Give the author a shout out on Social Media. Did you attend a conference and the speaker’s story gave you the courage to try a new approach in your classroom? Write them an email or tell a colleague about the wonderful conference that you attended. Did a colleague down the hall invite you into their classroom to observe their lesson and you decided to put what you observed into practice? Give them kudos at the next staff meeting. By all means, acknowledge those who have given you inspiration.
Sure, it can be very frustrating at times to deal with people who take credit for your idea or make it a point to say that the original idea wasn’t yours. But if you reflect on the situation you will most likely come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter in the big picture.
For those of you who are taking risks, who are willing to try something new to enrich the learning experience for your students, I applaud you. Invite a trusted colleague into your classroom to share and help give you feedback. Reflect on how it went, revise if necessary and remember to never stop doing your best because someone doesn’t give you credit.