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You will pay the price for your lack of vision,” utters the Emperor in the final chapter of StarWars, as blue lightning flows from his fingertips. Luke Skywalker has just turned him down, turning down the job of a lifetime–serving as the Emperor’s right-hand man.

Lack of vision? It is a curious choice of words. The established order of things–the status quo–fails when it moves out of alignment with new information and ideas that can improve the situation of those it was meant to serve. Instead of a Republic where freedom flourishes, you have an Empire that empowers wrongdoing, enshrines in nobility the acts which cannot be allowed to continue.

Are you jedi or sith when you step into a classroom, part of your toolkit, the use of social media tools to enhance learning for K-12 and adult learners?

When I began teaching process writing, writing/reading workshop, the other teachers around me treated me with disdain. They criticized the work of my students, though their writing soon covered the walls of my classroom and, later, the walls outside my classroom. What if, I had been stopped, and told, “You may not teaching writing workshop in your classroom?” Would I, a writer myself, have allowed that to be? Or would I have circumvented the rules?

The answer is as clear now as it was then. I would have broken the rules. I choose not to be limited by lack of vision on the part of those who, in spite of their authority and beliefs, say it is wrong. Yet, choosing to go against the status quo is always dangerous…the system fights back, and success is always tinged with a feeling of nausea in the pit of your stomach. Is it worth it? Yes.

Consider this perspective:
When you step into the classroom today, you have agreed to work inside a box that others have made. It may not be the box you wish to work in, or you imagined being in, but nevertheless, the pay you have accepted, the contract you signed all serve as reminders that you are an employee…and you do not make the final decisions.

Should you choose to violate the rules under which you have been allowed into that classroom, then you must embrace the consequences as well. If you would use social media tools–blogs, Twitter/Plurk, social bookmarking–to interact with other people outside the classroom, people NOT approved by the school district that first placed its trust in you, then you must prepare for the consequences.

Those consequences could involve being recognized as a leader in the school, a person who will soon find himself on report, if not unemployed, or the expectation that you will work quietly, hoping no one notices what you have done until your students’ voices grow so strong, their parents and your colleagues so enamored of their work that you will have proven The Rules are wrong.

It is a journey fraught with danger. Go ahead and break the rules…just make sure you’re ready to be unemployed. In the meantime, share your learning, the value of social media and the PLN/BRAIN with as many others as you can. Refuse to be silenced, instead making your learning–and the consequences applied to you–as public as possible. Though this may limit your job opportunities in the future, isn’t it safe to say that you’d rather have a job that springboards your learning for the benefit of yourself and others rather than seeks to fit you into a box?

This post inspired by this letter shared on Angela Maiers’ blog…and it didn’t hurt Star Wars was on tonight.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure