The title of this post was the message I had the honor of sharing this morning with a room full of educators in Nigeria who came together on a Saturday to discuss how technology can improve learning.
Within seconds, I could see that these educators are passionate about their work and fierce about their mission. Many were worried about lack of access to new tools and platforms. We discussed solutions to frustrations like large class sizes (some teachers had over 100 students in one classroom), lack of broadband access (as we spoke, the internet broke down several times), and isolation, frustration and heartbreak.
Yet, I left feeling inspired and hopeful about the future and all its possibilities. I think they were somewhat surprised to hear me say that while technology can enhance the classroom, it does not change lives; people do.
What students need most is a teacher who is fiercely passionate; a teacher that sees them, believes in them, challenges them. Students want a chance to lead, to solve problems, and most of all, to contribute.
When I work with groups of students, I invite some of the students to teach and lead with me. I show them the lesson, we discuss the format and objectives of the day, and together we accomplish what would have been impossible for me to do alone.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed, underqualified, worried that I won't meet the objectives--I do not hesitate to reach out to students for help. I no longer try to be the smartest person in the room; I try to enable the ROOM TO RISE TO THE OCCASION. The Room has never let me down.
So I say this to you: Technology does not change lives; people do.
I am in complete and utter awe that any teacher manages to teach in these conditions. But this morning filled me with emotion and hope. These teachers had what no technology or tool could have.
Have faith that their love - and your love - makes a difference. Your purpose and power is not dependent on technology, which merely amplifies and an extends your mission.
Your role as an educator is to be fully you; to be your students' hope; their chance; their face of possibility.
This is how you change the world.