Monday, September 1, 2008

Out of the Ordinary?

I have always believed that one person can make a difference, but sometimes we become cynical about our power to make changes in our lives and in our world. For example, people often shrug off their responsibility to vote or recycle, believing that one vote or one bag of recyclables won't be enough to make a difference. Teachers can become cynical, too, clinging to the habits of the past out of discouragement with current situations. Sometimes we forget our higher calling, the reason we became educators in the first place - to make a difference in the life of a child or young adult.

Perhaps we are using the wrong metaphor to think about our lives and our influence on others. If we think about our individual efforts as placing one small stone on the foundation of a building, we can become discouraged, much like Sisyphus, whose task throughout eternity was to roll a boulder up a hill, only to see it roll back down. In contrast, if we remember that tossing that same stone into a pond produces ripples, we see that even one small action can make a big difference. I prefer to think of our lives as creating ripples in the lives of others, especially our students. For teachers, the extent of our influence often isn't realized for years, but those ripples, like the sunrise and sunset, do occur without fail and give us a constant, visual reminder that we have indeed made a difference.

Of course, literature and movies reveal this truth all the time. I recently attended the Music Theatre of Wichita performance of Les Miserables and once again was reminded of the eternal truth that one life of self-sacrifice can transform the life of another. And the movie Pay It Forward, though not a classic work of literature, is equally profound in its message about the power of the individual action. Indeed, as William James reminds us, we must "Act as if what [we] do makes a difference. It does."

This blog, then, is dedicated to the idea that we can make a difference in our classrooms by making small changes that have a ripple effect upon our students, in their learning and in their lives. Through simple ideas about integrating technology into daily classroom learning experiences, we will transform ordinary into "out of the ordinary."


  1. Rosemary . . . thanks for the encouragement. Your metaphor of teaching is so true. Today we leave only fingerprints. Tomorrow those fingerprints will be realized and remembered in ways we, today, cannot imagine. Monday I received an article from Brett Zonker who was my student in 1999. Brett was an average writer who needed lots of encouragement when he was my student. Today he is a staff writer for the Washington Post and the story he sent me was an investigative report that he did exposing salary abuses at the Smithsonian Institute. His article brought about incredible changes in their salary structure and his research was used by congressmen and was reported on Capitol Hill. Interestingly, in his email he asked me if I was pleased with his work. Wow. We do make a difference. Thanks again. I promise to come back.

  2. Rosemary your blog looks great. We will indeed have to get together and collaborate later this month. Thanks for all you do.

  3. Looks really great! Your little "rosemary" is very cute!!!

  4. This is awesome, Rosemary. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Wasn't Les Miserables and incredible production . . . ? Wow!

  5. you're so cute! I miss having you and all your fun ideas in my room all the time! :) I"ll have to figure out a new project to make you help me with to get you in here! Hee! K