“Whatcha gonna do about it?” I felt like the Universe was taunting me with this question after a challenging series of difficult life events and unexpected changes in rapid succession. In addition to feeling defeated and depleted on a personal level, I was feeling anxiety and concern about the world at large. Every time I turned on the news, scrolled through social media or perused trending topics, I was bombarded with stories that were steeped in negativity. I needed help finding the positive, and looked for inspiration in books, podcasts, online courses, and videos from people who have worked through difficult times with great courage. I noticed that many of them had the same core message, expressed beautifully by Viktor Frankl: “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” Perspective is powerful. Seeing difficult times as a catalyst for change and growth can help mitigate feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Instead of perceiving “Whatcha gonna do about it?” as a call to surrender to sadness and wave the white flag, I decided to choose to see it differently – as a challenge to do something good. My response? The Glue EDU.
If we focus on the negative, we tend to see more of it. If we look for the positive, it begins to appear more frequently. I decided I wanted to create a blog that focused on the good, that helped myself, other teachers and students work toward becoming more “Wholehearted” (as defined by Brené Brown), and generate a positive ripple as a result.
I came up with my site’s mission: We appear to be existing in a time in this world (and often in educational systems) where the focus seems to be on things such as power, programs, policies, politics, plans, and procedures. It feels like decision makers sometimes overlook the most important “P word” of all: PEOPLE! The Glue EDU aspires to be a place where we can share lessons, activities, ideas, resources and more that help us work with our students to become human beings who are courageous, curious, and caring – both to themselves and to others. This could be through mindfulness activities, acts of service, global projects, storytelling, perspective shifting, and more! Many of these activities can harness the power of technology to help us be even more effective and/or wide-reaching.
As someone who has worked as a tech integrator for more than a decade, I am passionate about sharing ideas about using technology for GOOD, and teaching our students to do the same. I listen to a lot of people blame technology for many negative things in the world – that we are more connected to our devices but less connected to one another, just for starters. In some instances, this may be true, but I believe we can work to shift our perspective here as well, and focus on all the positive ways we can use our tech tools. I have been incredibly fortunate to attend and present at many EdTechTeam Summits and events where I have seen this demonstrated over and over in presentations by other amazing educators. We can work with students to use technology to inspire curiosity, engage in empathetic interactions, and create, create, create – whether it’s connections to others, stories to share, solutions to problems, or moments of joy. It’s what you do with it that matters – and there are so many ways and opportunities to do it well!
It is scary to share your work publicly. When I began The Glue EDU, I worried that my only blog followers would be a couple good friends and my mom. The response has been so much better than I ever expected. Colleagues in my own district are using some of the mindfulness resources I mentioned. Teachers from across North America, in New Zealand, and from Singapore, among others, shared how my post about #eyebombing brightened their day, made them smile, and inspired them to try it with their students. Kids in California are now getting a hug, handshake or high five from their teacher every day. An educator in Ohio reached out to say she made some big connections to the truthbombs I shared and thanked me for writing about them. Knowing that I am creating the positive ripple I had hoped for it gives me the courage to keep posting.
Human relationships, empathy, and compassion: they create the glue that connects us. I would love to hear your stories about using technology for good and possibly share them on the blog so others can hear them – your perspective is important and necessary! Let’s use technology to connect our classrooms, share good ideas, and shift perspective to the positive together. Nothing sticks together if we don’t. Please join me!
Tracy Poelzer is a grade 5 teacher, library/media specialist, and tech integrator from Kamloops, BC Canada. She is a regular presenter and keynote speaker at EdTechTeam events across North America and the author of The Glue EDU.