Monday, November 11, 2013

My take. The end of the #BammyAwards as we know it.

A little history...

When I first learned of the Bammy Awards I was thrilled to discover there was a formal way to share with the world the work of some seriously amazing educators. Personally, I was thrilled educators had the opportunity to let their peers know what an inspiration their work had been and how it touched the lives of so many. How wonderful to be able to introduce our country to those whose work and ideas were generally only celebrated in the small circle of educators.

I was equally excited to learn the Bammys were planning to recognize connected educators who had worked so hard, often putting their own livelihood on the line, to speak up and share ideas that matter. While many may stand out locally, often in uncomfortable ways as disrupters, and even outcasts, the Bammys provided validation to educator voice not just via the awards, but also by providing opportunities for educators to host and be guests on BAM Radio’s professionally-produced shows which help shine a spotlight on and share this work to a wider audience.

After the Bammys first year there was room for improvement. Two biggies were 
1) student recognition and 
2) the addition of a few categories, like librarian.

The present...

In their second year they heard this feedback and adjusted adding new categories (including librarians) and concluding with the recognition of a student named Mallory Fundora who was doing work to make our world a better place. There were also some wonderful surprises such as their decision to honor Ed Camp, EdChat, and a Jesse Hagopian, a teacher who had the courage to speak out and help his school take action to ensure students were not unfairly accessed.

Not surprisingly for a fledgling endeavor, in addition to all the wonderful experiences the Bammys provide,  there was also room for improvement. Some were disappointed and even angry about parts of the event. I understand it. Educators have been under attack in this country and we have HIGH sensitivities, but we also need to recognize when organizations are not the enemy and could potentially partner with us to bring much needed attention to educator and student voice in this country. In those cases, it is our job to take note and advise by working to do our best to inform, rather than attack, a group that is trying to recognize, bring attention to, and help amplify the voice and ideas of educators.  

Too often, when a new endeavor is getting off the ground, should they make a misstep, we write them off before they’ve really had a chance to get their legs. We are teachers though. If we reconnect which our chosen profession, it can serve us well to help lift up, rather than tear down, the efforts which might benefit our profession.

I am pleased to share that this was the case with the Bammy Awards who heard the feedback from educators like Pernille Ripp, Chris Casal, me, and others, and as recently announced they are adjusting. In fact, they are discontinuing the Bammy Awards as we know it.

Many knew the Bammys to be about winners, but as the organizers pointed out before the most recent awards: There Will Be No Winners at the Bammy Awards. Unfortunately, though, this message had not spread widely enough. Many still many knew the awards as just that – a celebration of winners.

The future and end of the Bammy Awards as we know it...

The Bammys are putting a deliberate discontinuation to what many knew these awards to be.
Going forward, the Bammys intentionally will not be about winners, but rather they will explicitly focus on selecting one of the many extraordinary educators in each sector of the education community to "represent" his or her part of the education village in a collective, national celebration of all the good being done in American education.

They will serve as a chance to come together to collectively appreciate and acknowledge the contributions of the various members of the school community celebrating teachers, administrators, students, librarians, school board members, parent leaders, students and all who are vital to the process of helping to ensure young people are ready to pursue happy and successful lives.

Perhaps what is most exciting is that Bammy honorees represent the recognition of the contributions of their peers to the grand collaboration. Letting those who make the short list, or ultimately receive a Bammy Award recognition, know that they are an important part of a community-wide honor for being a model contributor.

What's next?...

This blog, in part is about celebrating great ideas and the people behind them. I’m already thinking about who it is I’d like the world to recognize in a bigger way in 2014. What about you? Who are people doing work you’d like to see receive wider recognition?
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