The challenge to find one word for 2015 was difficult. After reflecting on the words proposed by others, thinking about my own personal and professional work, and where I am in my life’s journey, I think the one word that will shape the coming year for me is the word HEART.
There are so many phrases and words that connect to this one word – have a heart, take heart, true heart, brave heart, heart felt, from the heart and heart to heart. Each of these phrases brings forth an image or feeling. Encourage the heart is one of the five exemplary leadership practices presented in The Leadership Challenge by Kouses & Posner (2007). So what do these mean for my teaching and learning with educational technology?
Have a heart brings forward the vision of a caring, affectionate, forgiving person. Having a heart means you look beyond the problem, error or omission and move on. Educators can have a heart when it comes to technology because problems are an ever-present element of the terrain. Caring enough about what you are trying to accomplish with the tools and techniques means you can move past the challenges and issues and forgive the errors or omissions of others. For me, this means moving forward despite the perceived slights or misunderstandings I may create or see when applying technology to my teaching and learning.
Take heart is a call for resilience. Visions of being uplifted from despair come to mind. In terms of educational technology, taking heart is a rule rather than a general guideline! Knowing that if you stick to it, find a way around the issues, and persevere, things will get better. In the coming year, my ability to take heart will be tested with several new possibilities and projects.
If you have a true heart, you value and cherish that which you hold dear. Being a true-hearted educational technologist means you model and share the value of learning and teaching with all things digital. Since the beginning of my teaching career, my true-heart for ed tech has been evident to those in my classroom or work space. This year, the challenge for my true-heart will need to move into digital spaces and global places.
To be brave hearted means you have courage, passion and spirit. Beyond the Wizard of Oz or Scottish historical images, being of brave heart means you can face adversity and challenges. This one should be a requirement for all those working with educational technology – have a brave heart and you may enter. In 2015, having a brave heart means I will take on the challenge and face adversity when taking myself out of the comfort zones within digital spaces and places.
Heart-felt and heart-to-heart are about sharing, caring and loving. Making a personal connection to others in ways that are meaningful shows your heart-felt nature. Within educational technology, this means having those deep and purposeful conversations about what you are doing, trying to do or hoping to do. For me, this means opening myself up for those heart-felt, heart-to-heart discourses in places that are not just face to face or quick chats.
From the heart means your words and actions are seen as genuine and build relationships. Speaking from the heart implies that you care and can be trusted. For educational technologists, finding trusted sources that speak ‘from the heart’ comes through connected networks, listening closely and finding those trusted sources of insight and experience. For my own learning and teaching with technology, in 2015 I will find those whom I can trust to question, inquire and challenge my thinking.
Encourage the heart, according to Kouzes & Posner, means to recognize contributions by others, show appreciation for excellence, celebrate values, acknowledge victories and create a spirit of community. In educational technology, this can be a challenge, but for those immersed in the field, taking time to do the little things will mean the difference for many just starting out. For the next year, I will make challenge myself to make a difference in one person’s digital life on a daily basis. By recognizing other’s contributions, showing appreciation for something that models exemplary practice and acknowledging the small steps and victories other’s are making in their own ed tech journeys will enrich my own experiences and encourage my heart.
So today, with heart in hand, I send from the heart a heart-felt wish to my sister to take heart, be a brave-heart and have a heart-to-heart with me. This is my moment to encourage the heart and let you know you are true-hearted and truly loved!
Kouzes, J.M. & Posner, B.Z. (2007). The leadership challenge, 4th Ed. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons. p. 26