I have a battle with the word "legacy." There is a trend in education now that I call the "me movement." Though it started for noble reasons, it is now no longer something purely positive.
In the connected educators movement and the teacher-preneurs phenomenon, educators have been encouraged to reach outside of their classroom, school, district, community, state, and country. This is awesome! There are now opportunities for classroom teachers to have voices larger than their classroom. But, let me repeat: classroom teachers can have voices larger than that of their classroom.
This is not always positive. I catch myself falling into this as it's an easy pit to fall into. We are encouraged to share and share a lot. But, in the process of sharing, it can become a means to make a name for ourselves. Though there is nothing wrong in making a name for yourself, it can become negative when your voice overshadows other voices...when it becomes just about your voice.
Again, I love the benefits social media brings, but it can also become an echo-chamber, a place where similar voices repeat the same things and only some voices get shared (aka - retweeted). I watch as edu-celebrities emerge. I don't think that's what anyone set out to do, but it is an unfortunate consequence. We are all celebrities to someone. We need to share more than the voices who already have names. We need to fight the urge to become echo chambers. We need to make it about others' voices - not our own.
A true legacy is one where you can be removed from the equation and growth continues. If it is about your voice, you are not leaving a lasting legacy. Rather, your voice is just louder, not necessarily stronger. A former boss once told me that true change is when, after you leave, progress continues to happen. Think about your classroom: you know everything is working when you can leave and the students continue to grow and learn. That's a job well done.
We need to remember the same thing now. It's challenging. We want to be connected, but we need to stay grounded. We need to boost up the voices around us; not our own. I fight this urge everyday. It's exciting when something you say is shared multiple times. It's this feeling that creates the edu-celebrity phenomenon. We start to make it about our career and boosting ourselves up. Or, we decide to share only the voices of those who've "made it."
I challenge you to look at the voices you've shared recently. Who are they? Are they the same ones others have shared? Do you promote those around you? Do you promote those whose voices aren't as loud? The next time you share, share a voice who goes un-noticed: a voice that we need to promote so change can continue without us. And, don't worry - I'm not perfect at this either. This is a goal I have for myself each day: remembering my legacy will not be about me. In fact, they don't even need to know who I am.
It is the change that will continue after I'm gone - that's the legacy I hope to leave.
What is your legacy?