Thank Different

By: Dan Rezac

If you’re a connected educator, I’m sure you can find myriad ways to nominate your fellow edubloggers this season for some award or some badge that will remind them of the amazing job they’re doing. It’s always nice to send some validation to our friends and colleagues for the ways that they inspire us.  And who wouldn’t want to be nominated as, say, a White House Champion of Change? That was a new one this year, and I had a handful of emails from colleagues who were asking for support with that nomination.

On the total other side of the coin- I saw the other day The Nerdy Teacher’s #EduBroAwards, which I would describe as “The Onion” of education awards. You have to give props to Nicholas Provenzano for that; finally an educator with a sense of humor.  Educators aren’t often bold enough to be sarcastic (at least in public), probably for fear that any sarcasm might be taken as negativity (oh how dare!). Nicholas appears to understand the absurdity of it all, with folks so passionately offering their fake awards in his comment section. I’m particularly fond of two award categories, “Best Presenters to Simultaneously Wear Polka Dots” and “Best Pants.”  The #EduBroAwards come at a particularly sensitive time for education award shows after The Bammy Awards debacle that was publicly flogged by Lisa Nielsen. I get the feeling that if we were all given a license to be a more sarcastic, the world would be a better place, so keep that coming, Nick (in fact, step it up a notch).

I could get into the whole psychology of it all, but the fact is- there are a wide range of institutions, including The White House, who are trying to figure out one simple concept: a way to recognize innovation in education. How to do this in a classy way, a public way, and an inclusive way is something that I’m still not sure anyone has figured out.

Here’s what keeps me up at night: are we including everyone? Everyone who is attempting to take education forward. And that means- not just educators, but students, parents, your neighbors, and, I’m not afraid to say: the education industry. I’ve met handfuls of super-passionate entrepreneurs who have their own personal mission to transform education. I’m one of them. But by only recognizing just educators- we cast too small a net. That’s why many of these award ideas fall short. I’ve met plenty of parents whose enthusiasm for educating their child and allowing them to grow- outpaces their kids’ own teachers! Remember Caine’s Dad? The father of this kid’s awesome animation is amazing. Shouldn’t their roles be recognized?

By keeping education recognition just about teachers- we fail to understand that everybody plays a part in our students’ education. We need to allow this conversation to get out of the education bubble. I often wonder how that can be accomplished.

My personal struggle on this: how do we recognize education that is inclusive of everyone and gets outside of this bubble? How do we get our neighbors, our relatives, those who may not feel they have a stake in education- involved? Education is a bubble- and one of the goals of my company,, is to break that bubble. We’re growing, and constantly adding programming that includes new audiences and new stakeholders in education that can help us break free.

In August, I received a call from Mike Lawrence of the Computing-Using Educators- to take a step forward with something we started on EdReach called #EduWin. At the ISTE Conference a couple years ago- we dreamed of how the power of the hashtag could affect how people perceive education. We created a Tumblr at to bring the #EduWin movement outside of the Twitter-sphere, and our partnership with PBS Student Reporting Labs put #EduWin in the hands of students. A simple idea- share a positive story about education using the #EduWin hashtag.

Together, CUE and EdReach last month announced The #EduWin Awards. Ah- yes- more awards. But hang on. If you go to and read between the lines- you can see that this is something different. We wanted to create something that honored all of the stakeholders in education- and I think we have a solid start.

What are The #EduWin Awards about?  I can tell you what it’s not about. It’s not about creating badges to put on your website. It’s not about self-promotion. It’s about promoting others. It’s about recognizing- anyone. Anyone that you see Taking Education Forward. Teachers, doctors, students, neighbors. It’s also about looking beyond the bubble, and bringing others into the education fold.

The spirit of #EduWin has always been about telling the stories of education that happen every day- that people never hear.  The assistive tech breakthrough that helped a student communicate. The app that helped a student learn and appreciate math- in a whole new way. The substitute teacher who broke through to a student in a way that their permanent teacher never did. These are the stories we know are happening in classrooms and cities all over the world, and wanted a way to create a positive media stream that would negate the typical union and budget stuff you hear in the mainstream media. That’s what #EduWin is accomplishing, and it now has a life of its own.

#EduWin is really about telling stories. Positive education stories. It’s about recognizing those individuals who, in their actions, tell a really great education story. You can read some of those stories here from our October Honorees.

So- if you’d like to really give thanks- ‘thank different’ this year, and nominate someone  for a November #EduWin Award. Nominate someone who you know is thinking outside the box, who may be outside the bubble, and is telling an education story in their daily practice that will bridge the divide from the bureaucracy, the endless education acronyms, and the squabbles that take education back a step. One of our #EduWin Honorees will join us at the March CUE conference in Palm Springs, and share their stories with those who are eager to rewrite education history.

Let’s take education forward. Let’s make someone’s holiday. Nominate someone for an #EduWin Award, and let’s write a new chapter to this book.

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 9.22.35 PMDaniel Rezac is the Editor in Chief of  The EdReach Network ( He’s also a full-time Technology Integrator for a school district in Northern Illinois. You can catch him on Twitter @drezac or @edreachus.

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