Back at Educon, I made a promise to visit all the women who’ve influenced my development as an educator. I’m currently sitting at the kitchen table of Martha, the first stop on my tour. Martha is graciously hosting me, and I feel terrible that I haven’t visited sooner since I live a mere 3 hours away.
I met Martha about 10 years ago. One of the faculty she worked with emailed me to serve on a panel at this thing called Faculty Academy. I said yes and he put me in touch with Martha. I also met at least one of the other women on my tour through Faculty Academy and maybe a second, Barbara 1 and Barbara 2. So Martha’s running the whole show, and the show is truly impressive. FA inspired me for years, and I was lucky enough to do a keynote for them in 2009 (a keynote immortalized in video, a video I have watched and all I can think is, “What is going on with my hair?”).
Martha, the two Barbaras, and Leslie, and I had a gig about fear of technology in education. This wasn’t the healthy fear of data mining and privacy, but a fear of embracing technology to enhance teaching and learning. We went around the country talking about it, and trying to help those in the room overcome it and/or help their colleagues at home overcome it. While some have gotten past that and Martha and her colleagues are examples of people doing really interesting things with technology, in my conversations with Martha over the last few hours, it’s clear a kind of fear still exists even 10 years later. As I used to say back then, I find it so interesting that faculty will push their students to get out of their comfort zone and simultaneously refuse to leave their own.
So Martha is pretty amazing. She is fearless in many ways. She takes risks but isn’t afraid to say no. Things that would freak me out, she seems perfectly comfortable with. At least on the outside. I have one more day to visit, and then I’m on my way. I’ve dragged Geeky Girl on this trip, and I’m glad. I hope it sends the message that it’s important to honor the people who’ve meant something to you and who inspire you. Too often we don’t do that. I’m especially happy that the people whom I’ve chosen are women. I didn’t really seek women out as mentors in college. It wasn’t until grad school that I even encountered a woman that served as a mentor, and even then, I ended up getting most of my support from a male mentor. The women of fear were really the first women that I felt like I truly learned something from. Years after we no longer work together, I still turn to them for advice and inspiration (even if they don’t always know that). I’m hoping to visit the rest of my posse this summer: LesIie, Barbara G., Barbara S., and Audrey. More than ever, I need the inspiration.