On Being Vulnerable

Lately I’ve been reading about self-efficacy, and teacher willingness to embrace technology as a tool for teaching and learning. “Self-efficacy may be defined as a belief in one’s own abilities to perform an action or activity necessary to achieve a goal or task.” (Bandura, 1997, as cited in Watson, 2006, p. 152).

As part of ongoing university coursework, we are expected to be posting on Twitter, writing a blog, and participating in online discussions. For many of us, the discussions around self-efficacy have been about how difficult it is to “put yourself out there.” In fact, I’ve heard many teachers say, “I don’t really feel I have much to say.”

The more I think about it, the more I believe self-efficacy is really about vulnerability.

In the Ted Talk The Power of Vulnerability,” Brene Brown speaks of people who are willing to live their lives “wholeheartedly.”  Part of this wholeheartedness comes in being vulnerable. The people Brown studied don’t talk about “vulnerability being comfortable.”  Rather, they have the “courage to be imperfect.”

For many teachers who grew up in the Sage on the Stage School of Education, vulnerability was not the norm. Sure, we all had our lessons that bombed, but that was in the comfort and privacy of our classroom. We did not have to share our questions, insecurities, and failures with the world.

Sylvia Tollisano, in a recent blogpost speaks to the importance of sharing. She asks, “How do we promote a culture of sharing in education? How do we make it the “natural thing” to do next? How do we bring the ones on board, who feel they have nothing to share? How do we approach the “relatively new” subject of amplified sharing?”

Teachers today were educated in the 20th century where most of our work was created for an audience of one – the teacher. Teaching and learning happened in isolated classrooms. Often the only real feedback we received was our own.  Even so, in many years of experience, I have found teachers in my building to be most generous, not only with their stuff, but also with their ideas.

Sharing with the world, however, is a different matter. It is not a “natural thing” for many of us. I think that has to change, in order to change the way we “do” school.

21st century teaching and learning, no matter how stressful and scary, has to embrace vulnerability, not only for students, but also for teachers.

It is up to us to change the culture of the classroom, where vulnerability is an important part of learning and growing so that the culture can be one of collaboration and sharing.

Brown, B. (2010, December). Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability. TEDx Houston.  Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html?quote=867

Tolisano, S. (2012, October 9). The power and amplified reach of sharing. (Web log comment). Retrieved from  http://langwitches.org/blog/2012/10/09/the-power-and-amplified-reach-of-sharing/

Watson, G.  (2006). Technology professional development: long-term effects on teacher self-efficacy.  Journal of Technology and Teacher Education. 14(1), 151-165.

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About sandralbecker

An educator who is passionate about the creation of a school Learning Commons, which supports inquiry, critical thinking, and collaboration.
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One Response to On Being Vulnerable

  1. Great post, Sandra. This one in particular resonated with me because the feeling of vulnerability is all too familiar. Brene Brown’s talk illustrates her willingness to be vulnerable. I heard that she apparently was horrified by her confessions once she was off the stage. Yet the response to that particular TedTalk is in the hundreds of thousands. Her willingness to be vulnerable made people listen.

    When one becomes a parent, one becomes vulnerable. The same can be said for teaching. Websites such as “Rate your Teacher” mean you are putting yourself in a vulnerable position when you take on the task of teaching.

    I agree sharing with the world is ‘not natural’ for many of us in the educational field. “The stronger the perceived self-efficacy, the higher the goal challenges people set for themselves and the firmer is their commitment to them.” (Bandura, 1991, p.16) Perhaps it’s as simple as setting a goal, such as starting a blog or setting up a Pinterest board.

    Teaching has traditionally been an isolated job and learning was an individual act. Yet to be a great teacher, one has to be vulnerable. Instructional excellence can only be developed through collaboration and learning as a team. Tollisano asks “How do we bring the ones on board, who feel they have nothing to share?” Perhaps self-efficacy can be developed within a culture of collaboration, thereby bringing others on board by helping them feel a little less vulnerable.

    Reference

    Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning. Educational Psychologist, 28(2), 117-148. Retrieved from: http://www.centerforefficacyandresiliency.org/assets/docs/Perceived%20Self-Efficacy%20in%20Cognitive%20Development%20and%20Functioning.pdf

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