Two things happened on August 10, 2015; I took part in Vicky Loras’s webinar for the iTDi Summer Intensive for Teachers called Not Only Staying Afloat, But Also Making Waves, and later on that day, I watched the Pay it Forward movie.
The webinar was a tribute to teachers who despite all the difficulties they constantly face never give up and do even more to make the world of education a better place. In her talk, Vicky told us about her own past struggles and shared her gratitude for the help she got when he was desperate.
The movie was about Trevor, a small boy who, too, attempts to make the world a better place. In short, Trevor’s new social studies teacher gives his students an intriguing assignment: think of something to change the world and put it into action. Trevor comes up with an idea of repaying good deeds with new good deeds done to three new people – not with one payback, as it is usual. Eventually, to everybody’s surprise, his efforts bring a revolution in the lives of his family members as well as people completely unknown to him.
I couldn’t but notice the coincidence (or synchronicity) and the overlap of those two unrelated experiences I had on the same day. In both cases, a crucial role was played by inspiring teachers who, through their influence on students and other people, strive to change the world to a better place. The most important takeaway for me, from both the webinar and the movie, is the importance of connecting and helping.
Both experiences are reminders that human life and development occur within a network of relationships; we are social beings embedded in a social context. However, things have changed a great deal recently. In the past, it was hard to change the world from one’s armchair – one simply had to go out and act. This is what Trevor did after all. Nowadays, it’s possible to have an enormous, positive impact on other people without even leaving one’s room.
I find it amazing because we’ve never had a better opportunity to pay good deeds forward so massively – not just to three people, something that Trevor’s followers did, but to hundreds of folks at one go. This is what Vicky and others do every day. Somebody selfless once helped them and now, they’re generously paying it forward. The greatest thing about it is that now I am the recipient of their generosity and so are you.
I’m sure that even if you didn’t go through any serious difficulties and thus nobody had to help you, still, there are things which you are grateful for and which are worth being ‘paid forward’. You can start small. For example, when my blog was in its infancy, there were people out there in the virtual world who noticed what I was doing and they started promoting my blog on Twitter and other social media. To name at least two of my edu-stars (and to be gender-fair), it was Mike Griffin, whose support I appreciated very much, and Sandy Millin, who regularly reads and shares my posts (and comments on them a lot, too).
Now, apart from this thank-you interlude, there’s not much I can do to pay these great guys back, but I can easily pay it forward by sharing and promoting new bloggers and/or motivating teachers to start blogging. Also, I can interact with well-known, experienced bloggers and still be very helpful because everybody appreciates feedback, no matter how famous they are.