Jump on board

As I browse Twitter and read blogs I am inspired and amazed by the enthusiastic members of the teaching profession who take the time to share their feelings, knowledge and skills. I know there are wonderful teachers who do not appear in my Twitterstream or RSS feeds, but I am struck by those that do. I realise that the ‘on-line’ world is not familiar to everyone, confidence and interests vary from person to person. People make their own personal decisions about how to spend their time. Many wonderful words of wisdom cross the staffroom tables everywhere, and wonderful things happen in every classroom. But the world has changed, teaching is no longer private. It is common place for staff to observe each other, work collaboratively, share challenges and successes. Different school communities make this happen in different ways but I notice it IS happening everywhere to some degree. Our school world must mirror the world that our students inhabit when they walk out the school gate. Teachers being involved in connecting and communicating is a vital cog in the wheel.

Anyone who knows me, will know that I am far more introverted than extrovert. This has not stopped me from feeling quite comfortable in an on-line professional world. In fact, it is probably why I enjoy this learning style – I can lurk, browse and choose to contribute when I feel I have something to add. At a face-to-face meeting with strangers, I will not be the quickest one to add my 2c worth to a discussion. Although, I am developing confidence as I become more passionate and experienced on some subjects.

Every teacher I know has something to add to the conversation, how can we make those more reticent feel more enthusiastic to join in? I know that writing a blog post is not the way some people reflect (although I heartily recommend it), but I believe everyone could benefit from joining in, even if it is by simply reading and adding odd comments. In a world, where we are encouraging, if not requiring our students to become more overtly reflective learners, I believe teachers can benefit from this too!

I don’t think it is going too far to suggest, that teachers who do not pursue some form of connection, further education/stimulus, awareness raising or self directed inquiry learning are doing themselves and their students a disservice. The level of that involvement will naturally vary according to interest and time. The time element is often the excuse, but when I see the involvement of those I follow and read I think, “If they can do it….”

As discussed in previous posts, Twitter is a tool that takes time to learn and master, but I think you will have resounding agreement if you ask teachers who have taken the time about the benefits. Blogging, similarly can take time, time to develop a core library of relevant writers, time to feel confident to post your thoughts.

How do we convince those not yet convinced to jump on board? I get frustrated that it is all here and could be much richer with an even wider contributing audience. I prepared this graphic a while ago for another purpose but it summarises the benefits I receive from my involvement in an online network.

2 Responses

  1. Marg Yore says:

    I’m trying to pinpoint that moment when it all changed…I’ve always been one to “know all the latest news” as quickly as it comes off the press. But that’s just the point…it’s no longer the press that I grab first when I stagger out in the morning. It’s my apple that I grab and I don’t mean the juicy one! Quick check of emails..tick! Google breaking news…tick! If time, Twitter and Facebook..luxury! And as soon as work is over, it’s onto my favourite online newspapers and blogs. Most of the magazines we subscribe to at my place have their e-versions available to subscribers..we never wait for the paper copy, though we still enjoy it.

    I know this sort of behaviour, whilst relatively new to me, is part of my students’ everyday lives. They won’t be seeking exactly the same online inspiration that I seek, but the devices they need for the “latest of everything” are virtually attached to their fingertips. The digital natives are at large. I believe they are already ahead of the game and to be authentic teachers we have to at least dip into the riches of the online world. It has not been the practice, in any age, to reject new inventions….wheels, electricity, flight, penicillin, the internet…? Only by trying, using and eventually contributing to, the online world, can its wealth, inspiration, challenge and pleasure be known.

    Marg Yore

  2. mgleeson says:

    Hi Celia. great post. Like you, I’d rather put into print what I’ve got on my mind rather than say it at a meeting. It allows me the opportunity to say everything I believe rather than be cut off by others or time.

    On the point of online participation by teachers, I think a lot of it comes down to fear. For some its fear of the unknown. I know lots of teachers who love to read educational material but miss out on so much because of their techno fear. They’re unaware of how easy it is to subscribe to a feed, read a tweet link, follow news through curation apps because they fear technology due to lack of confidence.

    Then there are those who fear publishing their words for fear of saying something that will get them in trouble. I’m amazed at how critical some bloggers are towards education departments, governments and other teachers. The rider ” these views are my own” isn’t enough to avoid the wrath of a principal rightfully upset at a staff member being publicly critical. I’ve got lots of posts in draft form for a long time waiting to be edited to seem not critical. A lot of younger staff who spend their life posting stuff on Facebook may not have the self control ( I can’t think of a better word that doesn’t sound critical) to reflect before posting so avoid it in the educational setting.

    Time factor is a reality, when linked to work and life priorities. I enjoy blogging WAY too much so somehow find the time to do it but I get why others wouldn’t. And when you look at the reality, for every blog or tweet you and I read from an educator there are probably another 100 not even thinking about it. Look at TeachMeet. Great group, great learning but such a microcosm of the total staffing of schools in Melbourne. I think the best we can do is increase the lurkers by showing how easy accessing the info is. At least that will get the message heard.

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