Dear Virtuoso Educators
I know my friend Mary Howard does not like the term expert so Virtuoso it is. In this day and age where access is quite literally at the tips of our fingers and we are able to reach out and interact with the educators that previous generations could only learn from in books gives us the opportunity to be incredibly professionally blessed. To those educators, I want to say thank you for making yourselves so available, for continually providing tools to better classroom instruction and help our students.
Last week I noticed multiple posts where teachers were asking of different experts advice that could have very easily been answered with google or consulting the author/teachers book. I started to ask around and heard stories of receiving emails asking for assistance that are pages long, that they take the time to read and discover that they are asking for something that is clearly laid out in a book or blog post that people just don't bother to read because they feel it is ok to just ask for the answer.
Following different Virtuoso teachers ( haha) on twitter we see their travel schedules, the conferences, the workshops, the airport delays, the time prepping for a keynote and the time they also take for themselves. I worry that because of Social media teachers have started to ignore the fact that even the Virtuoso teachers need that time for themselves.
When we think about our own teaching lives how thrilled are we to dive into the emails on a Saturday or Sunday or at 9pm on a Friday night after a long week? How excited are we to walk someone through something that they could have very easily googled? Now times that by potentially hundreds or thousands of requests.
In the last few days I have noticed on Facebook alone teachers asking for full lessons and resources from experts that I won't name because it could be any of them. These requests followed posts that indicated being tired after a great day of learning with other teachers and yet people still asked for more. My friend Mary has resorted to posting closed signs on her Twitter and Facebook when she is on holidays to try a slow the constant flow of requests for research, opinions and feedback. These signs do nothing because people just say "she can't mean me" or "she will just read this later" It does mean you and she won't read it later, she will stop what she is doing to read it and find the answer because she is awesome and wants to support teachers even if it takes away from her own time to rejuvenate.
I am so grateful for all the amazing teachers that I have to learn from and I have asked them questions before as well, this isn't about not asking for help but I do think we as teachers are becoming almost helpless to solve these problems ourselves and at the same time putting too much on the experts that have so graciously opened their Social media accounts to us, who share their wisdom in these tweets and posts to give us small pieces of brilliance to work with because we can't be at all the conferences and speaking engagements. I think we have to remember the time they are putting in and respect them enough to realize that they don't owe us responses. That they have lives of their own and perhaps we need to consult some journal articles, read great books and find answers on our own.
Kind of like we expect our students to do.