The Moral Imperative to Share - #ASCD13


This past weekend I was able serve on the press corp and interview some of the award winning schools and individuals that were being honored at ASCD’s annual conference. One group that I was fortunate enough to chat with was the leadership team from Milwaukie High School in Milwaukie, Oregon. They were sharing their story about how they took many steps to transform the learning in their school. We talked at length about the various interventions they put in place and the partnerships they were able to forge in an effort to support their students. Without going into great detail, it is safe to say they have been doing some great work.

Towards the end of the conversation I asked them how they planned on sharing their story so others could benefit. They honestly really didn’t have an answer initially. One of the members of the group indicated he didn’t have time to do that on top of what they were already doing. Now, we have all heard this excuse and in many cases it is a truly valid reason. However, I have always been a believer in the idea that we make time for those things we value.

What worried me more was an individual not in their group that did not think it was important that they share their story for others to learn and even pushed back at the notion. If we are to be better at what we do for and with kids, we have a moral imperative to share our best work. How are we to be better if we are not learning from each other? Not all learning happens in a textbook or graduate class but in the spaces in between where we share our success and failures.

One member of the leadership team said, “We didn’t know we had a story to tell.” We all have a story to tell and it needs to be told. Regardless of what space you use, our stories need to be told. Move past the notion that your story is not worth being told. It will have value to someone and we have an obligation to share what is working for us in an effort to improve education for all…not just those in our own school or classroom. 

9 comments:

Angela Watson said...

Hey, Josh, I'll give you a little bit of pushback here. This particular team WAS, in fact, sharing. They were at a national conference talking with press about their work. Did you mean that they (and all of us) have a moral imperative to share *digitally*?

Josh Stumpenhorst said...

Angela,

Yes, I agree with what you are saying and they were here sharing at the conference. However, I was pushing them to think about what they do when they go back home and make the point that sharing is so crucial. They obviously had a tremendous opportunity to share while at ASCD, but what about two years from now? I personally think "digital" is just the easiest way to do this sharing although not the only way.

Dave Meister said...

From a totally selfish point of view...they do have a moral obligation to share. I do not know their story and I really want to steal the parts that work for my school. I am unable to do this because I was unable to attend ASCD13. Now you are morally obligated to share because you know more about what they do than I do. So, please share! #seewhatIdidthere?

Lyn Hilt said...

I, also, was unable to attend the conference, so unless someone like Josh shared their work digitally, I'd have no idea Milwaukie HS exists and that they're doing great work. I'd love to learn more about their work based on the snippets Josh has provided here, but unless they share resources from their presentation or ways to contact team members for further discussion, there's little I can learn from them since I wasn't physically present at the conference. I find it interesting that they were unaware they had a story to tell yet traveled to a national conference to present their work. Obviously their inclusion in the conference meant they had information worth sharing with others!

Jon David Groff said...

As Josh mentions, I believe we all have a story to tell, and we have an obligation to do so. We must not get caught up in "Education as a Competition." We are teachers because we want to help our students. The best way to do that is to incorporate strategies that work into our classrooms. And we do this by learning from others. We learn from successes but also from failures. Let's begin to share our work for others to learn from!

Jon David Groff said...

As Josh mentions, I believe we all have a story to tell, and we have an obligation to do so. We must not get caught up in "Education as a Competition." We are teachers because we want to help our students. The best way to do that is to incorporate strategies that work into our classrooms. And we do this by learning from others. We learn from successes but also from failures. Let's begin to share our work for others to learn from!

The Science Goddess said...

So, let me get this straight...

A school raises more than $600K to provide health care for students...forms nearly 30 community partnerships...focuses on social justice and service...and your takeaway from all of that is they're "immoral" because they did not choose to create a digital story.

Um, wow. I wish I could say I'm speechless, but I'm not.

I am humbled by what this staff has accomplished. Call me a heathen, too, but I would be honored to work at that school anytime.

Not everyone has the advantage of the white privilege inherent with this view of technology-as-deity morality. Not everyone can go to every conference everywhere and hear every session. I would wager that no one knows all of the good things happening in every school, every day. And yet, the comments here make Milwaukie the pariah for this. When do we start jumping on the several thousand other schools who do good work and don't blog? Get the torches and pitchforks!

It is not incumbent on this school to share anymore than it is for a teacher to stand in front of a classroom and impart wisdom via lecture each day. It is our responsibility, as students, to do the learning.

It's ironic that those who yell the loudest about using technology as a pathway for students to drive their own learning are the first to point fingers at others who don't "teach" them.

Josh Stumpenhorst said...

Science Goddess,

Thank you for taking the time to read the post and write your own reply. Clearly you have missed the intent of the point I was making at the breakfast as well as in the post. What that team at the HS did was nothing short of amazing and powerful. I would be happy and inspired to work for people such as those individuals I spoke with. In fact, after the initial conversation I did have some follow up conversations with individual members. The point I was trying to make has less to do with blogging/tweeting and more to do with sharing in any way possible.

To hear that the team is/was sharing is great and I applaud them for that. My frustration is when good ideas are out there and nobody hears about them. Why is it a bad thing to want good ideas to get a voice and be shared in every space possible? I don't think blogging/tweeting are for everyone and I don't believe I advocated for that but just finding some platform to share. I look forward to hearing more about the great work the team from Milwaukie is doing for kids!

Dean Shareski said...

I've been challenged on this statement a lot and value the pushback. Science Goddess raises a good point. I think this speaks to notion of community as well. I also speak about being a narrative champion. THat means that perhaps those directly involved may not have the means or time to share online but someone should. Perhaps it's a principal or other person in leadership. The point is that great stories and ideas are often shamefully lost because no one shared. Sharing online offers huge affordances that sharing locally can't provide. I argue against those who think they don't need to share when in fact you rob other teachers and students of a great idea because you choose not to. I understand the challenges but as a larger community, surely we can find the right mechanisms to openly share useful practices so that others can benefit. To me, it is a moral issue if we aren't even pursuing online sharing.