One of the most renowned storytellers and novelists of the twentieth century , A. J. Cronin, nearly gave up his writing career before he ever got started. Halfway through writing his first manuscript, Cronin decided to scrap it. Frustrated with his work, he decided to take a walk in the rain. During his travels, he saw an older farmer digging a drainage ditch in a boggy field. The farmer told Cronin that he “ditched this bog all his days and never made a pasture. But pasture or no pasture, I can’t help but dig. For my father knew and I know that if only you dig long enough, its here a pasture can be made.“After hearing the farmer’s determination, Cronin returned to his manuscript and began anew. He would dig, as the farmer dug; he would work whatever the obstacles or the cost. It was his turning point. Years later, Cronin credited his career to the farmer, who inspired him to try again after he had given up the first time around.
As educators we all have moments of frustration where we want to scrap a whole lesson, idea or personal goal. Rather than sitting in frustrated isolation, we should utilize all of the outlets available to us that will help us overcome obstacles, find constructive feedback and strive for success. Here are the places I go to find my inspirational “farmers.”
1. School Community
In my opinion it is essential for schools to develop a culture that encourages but also provides valuable feedback to one another.
- Offer Professional Development opportunities that promote collaboration and peer generated feedback. We typically get to collaborate within departments, but it is a practice that should be done school wide!
Over the past two years I have really turned to Twitter to develop my PLN
- I am able to find more like minded educators, speakers, authors (anyone you can imagine) across the globe
- I also participate in educational twitter chats on a weekly basis. A great place to start with finding interesting conversations is Participate Chats
Not everyone has a positive view of MOOCs, but I love them. I always learn something new and find myself being able to communicate via forums with like minded educators and professionals- Plus they are free!
4. Conferences and Edcamps
There are so many wonderful educational conferences out there today- too many to name. This year I have attended: iNacol, Pete and C, K12 Online, PioNear Summit, and InstructureCon. Not only are there powerful keynotes and sessions, but it gives you an opportunity to meet some of the connections you made online.
- If you haven’t attended an EdCamp yet, I highly recommend it, especially if you are looking for feedback and inspiration!
5. Educational Blogs and Books
There are an endless number of educational blogs that provide me with inspiration. I typically find them via Twitter through shared posts and twitter chats.
- Teach.com list of educational blogs to follow
- Take some time to read some recent educational books that will make you critically think and leave you feeling inspired. Below are some of my current favorites to feel inspired.