That is why I take the time to post my learning and experiences on my website. That is why I promote my website on Twitter. That is why I go into other teachers' classrooms and demonstrate lessons. That is why I lead free or minimally-paid professional development workshops. I want to share my learning and experiences with others so they can analyze it, tweak it, dismiss it, improve it, argue against it, be supportive of it, and push their thinking (and mine) because of it.
The author sarcastically wondered why his sister, the pulmonologist, was never asked to do a lobectomy for free! It doesn't seem fair that some people place so little value on an artist's time, but never consider making the same requests of a doctor.
The article ends with a strong plea that writers, authors, actors, cartoonists, stop giving their work away for free:
So I’m writing this not only in the hope that everyone will cross me off the list of writers to hit up for free content but, more important, to make a plea to my younger colleagues. As an older, more accomplished, equally unsuccessful artist, I beseech you, don’t give it away. As a matter of principle. Do it for your colleagues, your fellow artists, because if we all consistently say no they might, eventually, take the hint. It shouldn’t be professionally or socially acceptable — it isn’t right — for people to tell us, over and over, that our vocation is worthless.
- Tim Kreider
That got me thinking, "Why do I blog? Why do I tweet out my ideas and lessons for free? Why do I collaborate with teachers on Google Hangouts who I've never met? Why do I help other teachers who promise nothing in return?"
Well, certainly it's an ego boost. I get something out of the compliments and appreciation that others give me. But is it enough to sustain the amount of work that goes into it all? After all, I have no desire to leave the classroom, so I'm not campaigning for a job anywhere. (I've worked in the same building for my entire 15 year career.) I am not an overly-confident public speaker, so I'm not trying to launch a career doing professional development seminars. (Although I have recently enjoyed becoming a "Teacherpreneur" -- getting out of the classroom occasionally to help small groups of teachers in a specific area.)
I guess I could blame this all on my National Board Certification. After all, that's the reason why I've become such a reflective practitioner -- always looking back and wondering how I could have improved a lesson or helped a child better. Blogging is quite reflective. Putting my lessons online forces me to look at them again and again. Looking at my students' work makes me re-evaluate each task's purpose. But do I do all this work just because I'm a perfectionist trying to make every lesson perfect?
Today is one of those times. I want the world to see what education, at least in fifth grade, could look like. I want people to see that children can be trusted, rather expected, to take ownership of their learning when the classroom environment supports it and provides assistance towards getting there. Teachers shouldn't be afraid of encouraging students' passions in the classroom. These passions can lead to purposeful learning, stronger student-teacher partnerships, and higher motivation.
I wish that all teachers would spend some time sharing what they know to be good teaching (because Lord knows there's a million right ways to teach!!!). What works for you? Who can you share it with? If you're worried about blogging and having no one read it, tweet it out and ask for re-tweets! I always re-tweet blog entries that I find valuable (@PaulSolarz)! Help teachers around the world make learning enjoyable for their students! Help teachers prepare their students for a world that is constantly changing!
I understand the plea of the artist and the author, but teachers are not paid for each piece of art we produce or each story we write. Our salaries pay the bills. We can freely share our ideas and no one suffers from it.
Be generous, and share your work for free!