It Takes All Kinds: Communities

This is the third in a 4 part series. You can read  part one and part two if you like. This one is very specific to my work but hopefully will resonate at some level.

The truth is this post has already been written, and is the post that got me thinking about this whole series. I’m just going to add a few additional thoughts to what Lance has already said so well.

As a “community manager” my job is create and build community. If it sounds very enigmatic, that’s because it is. One of the problems that our team has discussed is that our current way of assessing community often is related to our DEN STARs. These are the folks within the Discovery Educator Network who have stepped up in some way. In many cases, these are the “rock star teachers.” I know many of them don’t think of themselves that way. I love the fact that becoming a STAR simply requires passion and a willingness to share. And those two things often get repaid with more opportunities to share and soon they get reputations;good ones, but reputations as rock stars, nonetheless. This is all well and good and we applaud these folks. But the reality is the Discovery Educator Network is way larger than the STARs and our goal is not just to make STARs but to support all members of the community. (FYI: A teacher that is in any school or district that has a Discovery Education license is in the Discovery Educator Network by default.)

So we realize not every teacher feels the desire to be a STAR and that’s okay. In building community we want to accept and support all teachers and find ways to acknowledge their work, be there when they need something and help them grow professionally. From webinars to online tutorials to social media to face to face gatherings, we want to provide as many entry points as possible. The ultimate goal for them is not to necessarily become STARs but to use our service and supports to become better teachers. Figuring out all the ways we can do that is essentially the job of the Global DEN team.

I believe every teacher needs to share and I believe passion is a prime ingredient to be successful. But I also believe that sharing and passion can look very different in each person. We want to continue to provide a myriad of ways for teachers to share. That might mean offering a PD session but it might also mean adding a quality resource to the shared school or district folder. Passion does not necessarily have to be vocal or overt. I think passion might mean waving the DEN finger and whooping it up at an event but it also might mean quietly reflecting on how they’re going to engage their students using media the next day. As I read the book Quiet, I’m continually struck by how often our world in very subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways tries to define how we should all be assertive and strut our stuff. The book is a great reminder of how many people are not comfortable expressing themselves in certain ways and these are not character flaws but personal dispositions that need to be honored and valued. I want to be more aware of this and insure that all members of our community feel welcomed and open to participate in ways that suit them, not us.

So as I and my team try to grow our community, we’re trying to be mindful of the scope of great people who work with our children each day and who have different ways of contributing and engaging with learning. The challenge is finding ways to honor and support them. What I love about our team and our community is the constant exploration of new ideas that in small and sometimes big ways bring more people to feel more apart of our community.

Read Lance’s post if you haven’t already. His is better anyway.


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