Last year, I remember standing outside the front door of Oxford High School helping load cases of Coca-Colas that had been sold for a prom fundraiser. Several teachers had gathered to help in this effort. One of the teachers, Cade Somers, started telling me about his Classroom CEO, Phil Webb, who had recently visited Cade’s English class and talked to his students about time management. Cade was telling me some of the high points of the discussion, and it quickly became apparent that this visit had as much impact on Cade as it did on the students. I told Cade that it was important for him to capture this in some way. I encouraged him to blog about the visit so that others could benefit from it. It was great that he had shared it with me, but through a blog post he could reach tens, hundreds, possibly thousands. Click here to check out Cade’s Ten Time-Management Tips I Learned From My Classroom CEO

I felt great after that conversation. Not only did I get to hear some great advice on time management, I was able to help a colleague find their button. By the way, Cade also cohosts the Across the Hall Podcast with fellow Oxford High School ELA teacher  Michelle Shelton, which is a fantastic podcast!

I encourage all educators to find their button. This is different for everyone and that’s how it should be. For some, their button is pressing tweet after typing 140 characters. For others, it is pressing publish after a blog post. It could be pressing publish after creating a YouTube video. It could be the record button to create a podcast episode. It could be the reply button to any of these that I have mentioned so that you can join the conversation. It can be the share button so you can support a colleague who has found their button. It dosen’t matter which one of these you choose. What matters is that you choose one. We are all counting on each other. We can’t go at this alone. We need the ideas of others. We need the encouragement. We have a voice, and we should be using it to tell our story. To do this, you must first find your button.

When educators find their button, it helps us build a WE culture where we can challenge each other, dare to be different, collaborate, and inspire.

We are finding our button at Oxford High School. We have several teachers who are active on twitter such as Teach to Lead participant and Teacher’s Guild Fellow, Theresa Shadrix; NMSI English consultant, Yevett Word; A-Plus College Ready Presenter Katie Norton;  Classroom CEO and ELA Innovation teacher, Holley Harmon; and first-year history teacher, Lauren Phifer. This year we created a Teacher Innovation Station. This is a place where teachers can create, make, and do. It is also a place where they can find their button. Our Teacher Innovation Station has a green screen for recording videos, an interactive screen for dynamic presentations, tinker trays for prototyping, and much, much more. It even has a podcast station, which is the home of the Across the Hall Podcast and Adam Clark’s HeroEd Podcast. Our Teacher Innovation Station is also used by teachers and administrators to create Ten Minute Clinics and Two Minute Drills. We have professionals in our building that are really good at what they do. They can create Ten Minute Clinics and Two Minute Drills to share this with others.

The great thing about finding your button is that it benefits everyone. We all benefit from participating in Twitter chats, reading blog posts, watching educational Youtube videos, and listening to podcasts. The person consuming the content benefits in obvious ways. However, the creator of the content also benefits greatly. Think about preparing lessons and presentations. Do you learn anything? Of course you do. Finding our button causes us to consume and create. Educators are no longer weighed down by being the isolated protectors of knowledge. We are empowered by the release. We consume and create. We seek out that which will help us create. And then guess what happens? We share it. From reservoirs to rivers. We achieve flow. The stale and stoic turns into the fresh and energized. All because we found our button.

Balance is important here, as it is always. We need to be consumers and creators. We need to operate on both sides of the button. Even if no one reads, listens, or watches what we create it is still worthwhile. I write my blog posts for me. If someone reads it and gets something out of it then that is a bonus. These are not hollow words. I really mean this. However, I also know I, and we, can do better. We can read more, watch more, and listen more. Our colleagues deserve this support. We need to reply, share, like, and retweet. We need to leave those reviews on iTunes. This is a great way to support each other on our journey. And guess what, we will learn a little each time along the way.

How did I find my button?

For me, it began with Twitter.

Tony Dungy, Lian Dolan,

I was blessed to serve as Head Football Coach and Athletic Director for thirteen years. I have always loved football and owe a lot to the sport for the impact it has had on me. One of my favorite coaches is Tony Dungy. I had the opportunity to meet Coach Dungy early on in my career at a Coaches’ Clinic. Coach Dungy was very humble and gracious and took the time to talk to me after his presentation.

Years later after having read his books, I tweeted the picture of @TonyDungy and myself from that clinic and talked about the impact he had had on me. Guess what?? He responded to me on Twitter. Needless to say, connecting with someone like Coach Dungy was a powerful experience for me.

Prior to becoming an administrator, I taught high school English for seventeen years. One day in one of my English classes, we were finishing Lian Dolan’s “Carry your Own Skis.” I then did something that I had never done before. At the time, I was new to Twitter, and I sent a tweet about the story to @liandolan. Guess what?? She responded. How awesome is that. I shared her response to the class. We had connected with the writer of the essay we just read in real time. Needless to say, that was a powerful moment in my class made possible by Twitter.

For me connecting with @liandolan and @tonydungy made #Twitter much more than just something that young people could use to post inappropriate stuff and older people could use to complain. It became a tool that I could use to connect with others, especially educational thought leaders who became valuable members of my Professional Learning Network. Why does that matter? Because my PLN is an important part of my continuous improvement process. As I improve as a leader, I can more effectively build capacity in others to lead as well.

Then it happened. I read Digital Leadership. For me, it was a game changer.

I began looking into blogs and blogging after reading Digital Leadership by Eric Sheninger. By the way, I highly recommend his book to anyone interested in growing as a digital leader. After reading his book, I developed my own website, started a blog, created a youtube channel, published a podcast, and created infographics. This book challenged me to read educational blogs as well as start my own. Starting a blog is one of the best things that I have ever done. It has caused me to grow tremendously as a professional. I learn best by reading and then writing about it. Blogging fits perfectly into my learning style. As an administrator, I find myself constantly reading and learning about a plethora of topics. I was already doing the reading, note taking, and reflecting. After starting a blog, I just added the step of posting my final product. Blogging then lead to creating videos, podcasts, and infographics. These were ways for me to process and compile information. Blogging helps me to take a topic and present it through a continuum of something as brief and concise as a tweet, to graphically presenting it in a infographic, to creating a video with the content, to the blog post itself. This helps me learn how to take the same content and present it in many different ways. Not only does this force me to learn a lot about the content, it also culminates with multiple things I can then use to disseminate the content to others. For me this is a win-win.

So what do you think? Have you found your button? Have you helped others find theirs?

Click, like, share, and comment.

You can find my YouTube channel by clicking here.

You can find me on Twitter @Heath_M_Harmon