What brings teachers to social media and connecting? What draws them and gets them to become involved?
One of my classmates asked these questions:
I’ve been thinking alot about online identities. I’m just not really convinced of the usefulness of having an online/networked identity. What are your thoughts? Why do you think it is important? Maybe this seems like a question with an obvious answer for some, but I really struggle with seeing the value in it. I need some convincing…
It’s not the first time I’ve been part of this or seen teachers search as they seek ways to make sense of things.
Jeremy Black in his post states
Since starting this class in September, I have been more engaged and motivated as a professional, which in turn has helped my students performance tremendously. This has been a direct result of joining a community of like minded learners, and nurturing one another’s growth through supporting and recognizing one another’s input.
Being connected does seem to have that effect, I’ve heard similar explanations from many different people. They experience their work in a different way and there is a shift that takes place.
An interesting set of questions with great insights by people from different perspectives. The prism of social media refracting the light of interactions, or is it a kaleidoscope with the images changing and shifting depending on the angle to the light or the way it’s rotated. It takes time, it opens us to new ideas and insights, helps us to expand beyond our own limitations, physical and self-imposed. We begin to see things differently which in turn affects the way we approach the work we do and the relationships we have with students, parents and other teachers. As this happens, there is a shift in so many small ways, like the sands shifting and new images appearing, rearranging what was previous. Sometimes, its important to remember that its not the connections exactly but how we are open to them and where we are as we journey as teachers and educators. The great part is that, just like life, no journey is the same and what is right for one person isn’t necessarily right for another. Each of us needs to find what fits, what works with where we are and continue to on our path of learning. Some will find deep connections with where they are and how they are feeling while others will feel confusion and mixed feelings about what the information while for others they won’t know what to think as they haven’t had time to sort through the experiences.
My response, as I was going to write it to what had been expressed by different people in the conversation. But it was way too long and wasn’t yet really complete.
I do remember, somewhat, how it felt when I first began connecting – the way it began to change how I viewed many different things about teaching and learning and how, over time, it connected me to new ideas and ways of thinking. It also exposed me to the “darker” side of the internet – the “trolls”. I also had some “difficult” discussions and exchanges with others with whom I did not agree and felt the backlash. It didn’t stop me from connecting but it did deter me from writing and blogging for some time. I put my efforts into helping teachers with whom I worked to integrate technology in their work and expand and explore their teaching.
In the past 15 years since I began to incorporate technology into my planning and assessment, I have learned a great deal. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that the learning doesn’t stop, there are always new apps and technology on the horizon that will impact what I am doing.
Not busy but productive
I’ve written in the past about educators needing to shift from being busy to being productive. I also know that as educators connect, there are all kinds of things that happen in their lives and their classrooms, with the educators around them and with others who are in their lives. As much as part of me wants to offer suggestions and warnings, I’ve also learned that the best thing to do is offer support and encouragement for each one as they walk their path. I remind people that whatever the path, relationships are the core of what we do. There will continue to be different changes and improvements which can keep us “busy”. I would prefer that, instead, the focus be on being productive, allowing our passions to drive us, not in multiple directions but, instead, in a focused manner. There are SOOOO many things that could be done – distraction and busy can easily become the mode of operation. The one thing I urge people to do is, before they become too busy – reflect. Whatever tool or program, initiative or plan, begin with:
There are so many things to choose from, as water bursts from a dam, the opportunities rushing at, around, over, under and past. There is no way to capture them all, unless we rebuild the dam which puts us back where we were. Instead, deciding how we will ride this river, explore the shores, ride the rapids is now part of the learning, all of us together. However one decides to explore, there are others out there willing to share their experiences from their explorations but, while leaping from one to another to another may get us to see different things, it does not provide any deep experience. Seek the deep experiences – the ones where relationships are built and learning is deep, where busy is replace with productive and purpose, passion and persistence and reflection is a key component of all learning.