My dear friend, Kerry, posed this question on the Voxer group BFC Lounge (see bfc530.com) just a few minutes ago, “What is it that early adopters have that other teachers don’t, that makes them willing to try stuff even if they’re not sure it’s going to work?”
Here is my answer:
As I look back over my career, I realize that I’ve always been an early adopter. I have never been one of those teachers that had the same routine every day. I couldn’t handle being in a box like that. If a schedule weren’t imposed upon me by my school system, I wouldn’t have a schedule at all. But that is another blog post all together. (Note to self: don’t forget this topic.)
This is my 24th year in the field of education. I say this not to brag. I say this to make a point. Not all of those years were great years. The best years I’ve had were the ones where I felt free to bring my students what they needed. My worst years were the ones where I’ve felt boxed into someone else’s expectations and demands. Until recently, I didn’t realize I was an early adopter of anything. I never had the best equipment or newest gadgets. But what I did have was a desire to use the equipment to its fullest potential. Even in my very first classroom, I found software to use an old apple IIe (even old then by the way) in my classroom. No one in my school questioned my need. I think they realized (before I did) that I was a geek about technology. Even now, my administration supports my desire to push my students beyond the limits of the technology I have been given.
I have embraced my true passion for teaching in only the last few years. This has been extremely freeing. It is like I have finally been introduced to myself. And you know what? I think I am a pretty neat person to know.
But none of this background actually answers the question Kerry posed. So here is how I tie it all together.
I think early adopters have a strong sense (even if they don’t realize it) that being too routine is stifling . Routines are great. They provide a pattern in our lives that we all need to survive. But for me, being too routine drives me absolutely bonkers. I can see how it would make my life easy to know that we are having Spaghetti every Wednesday, but I’m the kind of person that wants Spaghetti Wednesday on Tuesday. (If you are an educator, and you get this reference, please connect with me. We are kindred spirits.)
It is that need to break out of a routine (too much routine is called a rut) leads me to look for something fresh and exciting. That’s what I love about meeting other educators on social media. I find tons of early adopters to share ideas. I find out what works and what doesn’t from others. They keep me from falling completely on my face. They also encourage me to reflect when something doesn’t go as expected. (I don’t say fail because I learn so I never fail completely.) So, while I may have always been an early adopter, social media connections have given me the self-confidence to own my passions.
For that I am always grateful.