The shepherd always endeavors to lead her flock on the right path. She uses her knowledge of the needs of her flock, her understanding of the terrain, and her vision of what she desires for her sheep. I see so many parallels I between this ancient shepherd and my own role as a leader among a flock. As a teacher, I am always searching for the right path, for my students’ in their inquiries, and for myself as I try to constantly bring my best to my job. Being a scholar in ETAD has not shown me the path, but it has done something much more significant. It has shown me how to find the path. I didn’t only learn about the whats and hows of technologies and designs in education, I discovered so much of the underlying reasoning for what we do, and where to look for currents trends and issues.
McCormick & Davenport explain that the shepherd leader depends on the relationship with their flock for the mutual benefit of all. The shepherd employs his voice as an essential tool in his leadership. His flock listens and trusts his voice.
Finding my voice was one of the biggest challenges I faced as an ETAD scholar. As I already mentioned, the online community was a major advantage in my learning, but the sense of belonging, accomplishment and worthiness was not instant. Far from it. I struggled a great deal in the beginning to find my voice and share my knowledge with others. I believe that I am on the cusp of the generation who puts everything online. I am a regular user of social networking sites and I like to share and see what the people in my extending community are up to. In fact, being far away from my large extended family, social networking is a key way that we share big life moments and tender memories with each other. But, I am not of the mind that I should post every detail of my life, or that my thoughts are witty enough or worthy enough for the wide world to care. I read a lot on online material, from blogs that relate to my professional life, to inane thoughts and pictures to entertain myself.
The move from consumer to producer of online content was not easy. I felt that there were so many other more inspired and insightful educators out there sharing. What did I, as a veteran teacher of just 7 years, have to contribute?
The change came as I was writing on this blog as part of an assignment. To that point, I had been writing just to fulfill my course requirement. I posted my blog on my Facebook site to get some traffic to the site, which was a requirement. I didn’t think anyone would actually want to read what I was writing, except for those close to me, as a favour. To my surprise, a student in a B.Ed program reposted my link, and encouraged her classmates to check it out. From then on, the purpose of my writing changed. I knew I did have something to say to those in preservice education. My struggles and learnings were relevant to what they were about to face as new teachers. From then on, I realized that I could share some insight and that someone might find a kernel of inspiration in what I was saying.
Finding my voice in the ETAD program has brought me the confidence to share all the knowledge and insights I have gained from my professors and colleagues with those I work closely with. My shepherd voice is not an authoritative shout, but a comforting invitation along the journey. The journey I take is informed and guided by the tools and knowledge I have encountered along my ETAD path.