Phoenix Rising


I’ve recently began the #dcmooc – Digital Citizenship and am looking forward to the connecting and learning. The prompt for this week was: What are your goals for #DCMOOC, and what will you do to achieve them?  My response had covered three areas: Deeper learning, Connections, Reflection. The reflection part I hope to capture, to some degree, here. But to do that, I’ll have to write. About my learning. Which can be hard.

It’s not the writing

Unlike a lot of other people I have talked to about blogging, I don’t have any problem in coming up with topics or with the writing. It’s the bad experience. Yeah, it was bad. And at that same time, there was a public humiliation about my use of technology. Humiliating. My stomach still knots sometimes. I don’t get mad any more.

See, I wrote a post and a fairly influential blogger disagreed. Which is what should happen. Especially in education. We should be able to have differing opinions and discuss them. And, given the multitude of backgrounds and experiences that can enter into a discussion, we should expect some disagreement. For growth, it needs to happen.

but it wasn’t the disagreement…

it was the comments that followed…. because I didn’t just give up my ludicrous position and ideas and agree….I was accused of a few nasty things, called a bunch of names. I was passive/aggressive – my return comments were parsed as passive/aggressive with further comments about my intelligence…. 

That would have been okay with me but it continued……..

                              with every post I wrote

                                                  the person would return ——– nonstop abusive comments.

Then, at an admin meeting with 60+ other administrators, another happening.

                   Public humiliation.

I was answering an email from my secretary – on my blackberry –

                             I was one of the few people who have figured out how to get email

                 on my blackberry

when the Director called my name:


“What would you do if one of your students was on a device while you were teaching?”

“What is your school policy?”


Caught. Humiliated.


“I was working. Answeringanemailaboutquestion…”

“Shh” finger to lip. Like you would do to a small child.

“Don’t do that again!” Then the chuckle.


I don’t remember the rest of the meeting but I do remember how other administrators treated me after. At the time I was involved in many initiatives in the division. I quit.

All of them.

I was called a “know-it-all” by a few when I went to answer questions about technology. I was looked over for a few advancements. My response – I went somewhere else. But I never forgot that – and I never did that to any other person. You might as well publicly flog someone – it would be easier I think.

Before these events, I was eager to share and help. I volunteered for committees. I did presentations. I was talking about tools I found and how they could be used in the classroom.

After. Done.

There were 14 years left to retirement.

Together, these two incidents ended my wanting to do any work with other people outside the immediate school where I worked.

I resented people who were sharing and sharing and sharing – traveling to conferences, doing presentations, sharing their passions while I didn’t – couldn’t. I asked to go to conferences – Rejected. Rejected. Rejected.

In my last position, I tried to share what I knew outside the school, did a session on technology and learning at the local convention. But even after that and what was happening at the school, when I asked about doing anything within the division with technology, someone else ended up doing it. So I quit trying. I quit sharing. What was the point?

Where are they now?

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t pursue my passion – helping teachers integrate and use technology, share the great things that I have learned from connections with others around the globe, and shared my love of learning with students and teachers. Mostly because I was afraid – waiting for yet another horrifying moment.

Not just afraid –

Bitterly Afraid

Oh, I was on twitter and shared things – other people’s things. But there was no way I was going to put myself out there.

The resentment built. As did the frustration with my own work – great things happening at the school – marvellous things – incredible things with teachers embracing new ideas, trying new things, classrooms alive with learning and sharing. I tried sharing but even people within my division seemed disinterested – they appeared unsure of what exactly was happening with this social media stuff and then someone else would tell them about something and it was sooooooo wonderful. Finally, after trying to make a move up to central office, just as some of the people around the division seemed to be understanding what we were doing at the school,  I quit. I didn’t want to be the “Change Guy” any more. I yearned for working with passion, sharing what I loved – helping teachers do what they do best – teach.

The “untold” story

Too often all that people discuss are the “puppies and sunshine” and not the unpleasant things. It’s easier. It’s better for convention brochures – who wants to go to a session about “10 technology mistakes and how they can ruin you”! But there is fear that goes undiscussed. There are incidents where teachers were verbally chastised/abused because of a mistake and the fears of others who don’t want that to ever happen to them!

Yes there are more great stories – we read about them all the time. Heck, the teachers with whom I worked talked about the great things and the growth and the positive change. But they were always watching, waiting for something to come along. I’ve read similar things in comments on blogs – comments that leave a sense that there is more than just a reluctance to take a chance. That doing so may not be worth it – the price may be too large for the individual. Some will say something akin “Well, that’s too bad for you. But it doesn’t happen too often.” And they’re probably right. Just like all those other bad things that happen to “them”.

I no longer resent the good fortune of others – I want to cheer them on. Mostly because I walked away and took another path. I decided it was time to embrace my passion. I returned to classes to pursue my PhD. I’ve begun to share ideas much more, to get involved in chats. Mostly, I’ve decided that it’s time to share the story, both the good and the bad.


To start, I’ve shared my bad. Which brings me back to my reason for being involved in #dcmooc.

Digital Citizenship is important. It is about respecting ourselves and others, caring for ourselves and others, sharing ourselves with others, demonstrating kindness and compassion and working with others to build and create. It’s more than rules and guidelines for students in school, although these have their place. It’s about changing how we interact, not just online but face-to-face. It’s about being better citizens everywhere we happen to travel – who knows, some of us may end up on that five year mission.

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I am a husband, father, son.... I am currently working on my PhD in Education - Curriculum and Instruction. My focus is teacher professional development and social media integration. I have a beautiful, supportive wife who has been my partner for 28 years. We have 8 wonderful children who are amazing individuals. Together, we are exploring the world around us, sharing our stories, and enjoying the journey!

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