As I prepare to leave for the BC School Superintendents’ Winter Conference in Vancouver, it’s given me pause to reflect on the ways I’m using Twitter, blogs, and all other types of social media to deepen my practice. And as I’m aware of the popularity of “top 5” lists, I thought I’d try my own to see how it resonates.
1. Using Social Media stimulates you to think differently.
For some of us who’ve been using it for awhile, it’s difficult to remember what it was like before. But my recollection was of a guardedness, an uncertainty. “Why would I post my thoughts for all the world to see?” But once you do it, you make a transition. You begin to see that you are not a single entity, but part of a world of networked intelligence where people interact, share, dissect, ponder and think together. It’s a personal journey, but once undertaken will certainly transform the way you think. As a leader, it’s an important step because it’s exactly the kind of journey we’re advocating for our students as they become 21st Century learners.
2. It’s made PD a part of my job, not an add-on
Part of the challenge with PD is to make it embedded, real-time, purposeful and collaborative. Within the bookends of our day, and within collective agreements that can be very difficult. But with Twitter, it just adds a layer over top which seamlessly includes your own personal network to the day-to-day activities you are already doing. It’s like a global conversation running in the background, to which you can turn whenever you need advice or an update.
3. The Sea of Talk, the source of all ideas
Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser reminded me this week of James Britton’s famous assertion; “Reading and Writing float on a sea of talk”. For me, Social Media is the sea upon which all my ideas float, and from which all new innovations and inquiries come. I spend a few minutes each day reading, interacting, and posting, and it’s amazing how those few minutes stimulate me to view my day differently. It changes the lenses for viewing students’ work, and the activities of the adults in my building. It forces me to constantly revisit my goals, strategies, and leadership opportunities, and for that I am very grateful.
4. People you don’t know hold you to a higher standard
This is quite an amazing one, when you think about it. Most of the people I follow every day I’ve never met, yet they profoundly affect the way I go about my day. When I read about their innovative projects and thoughtful posts, it inspires me to expect more of myself and contribute to this thoughtful community. And now, as I’ve begun to post more and more to Pre-service teachers’ hashtags like #wktep (West Kootenay Teacher Ed), #uviced (University of Victoria) and #ntchat, I’ve begun to notice how they’re re-tweeting and “favoriting” my posts. This is me, making the transition from follower to leader, inspiring a new generation of people who I’ve never met to hold themselves to a higher standard.
5. It’s made learning fun
Simple. I love to learn, I’ve always loved it. I’ve either been a student, or an educator, all my life since kindergarten. It was a natural step to leave university and start teaching. But there was a time before Social Media that there was clearly something missing. Conferences were too few and far between (and usually too cost prohibitive to attend regularly). Books were solitary, and book clubs were rare for those interested in education. But now, I feel like I’ve found a “learning home” which fills my life with great ideas and completes that piece I’ve always been searching for.
I hope that resonates with you, and inspires you to take a few steps into this new and exciting world. You’re welcome to follow me on Twitter at @derynron, and join the conversation.
See you there!