This special episode was recorded in Calgary, Canada while attending the SMART Global Summit and is all about building your PLN or in this case PLF, professional learning family. This episode is made up of four interviews with four different individuals. Two of them are employees of SMART and the other two are attendees like myself. I would like to give a huge shout out to SMART Technologies for hosting this event and the Conrad Foundation for all the work they did with us, especially the students.
For more information on becoming a SEE, click here. Thanks again to everyone who I interviewed thanks to my new PLF from all over the world. Don’t forget to subscribe to be notified when future episodes are released. Buen Provecho!
It’s no secret that as humans, we tend to stay in our comfort zone. We shop at the same stores, go to the same restaurants, have go-to outfits for certain occasions, and teach using the same tools year after year. We tend to fall into these “comfort traps” and find it very difficult to accept something out of our norm as “acceptable” if not better than what we’re used to. One thing to always keep in mind is the second we stop learning, we stop growing. If we want to continually grow and truly live a growth mindset, we need to make ourselves at home and make ourselves uncomfortable.
I’ve always preached Twitter as a means of learning for all educators from any and every grade level and content area. It really didn’t dawn on me as to how small of a percentage of teachers actually use Twitter as a PLN until I gave a quick professional development session at one of the schools I service. I asked for a quick show of hands of those teachers who were active Twitter users and out of about 45 teachers in the room, only about 3 rose their hand, two of which were the building administrators. It was then that I began this mission to help teachers realize that Twitter is not just “another thing to learn” however, a means to learn from those outside of their building as well as share the great things that are happening in their own four walls. In order to do this, I got with my colleague and friend Laura Moore to develop an online Twitter class for teachers in our district. We planned and mapped out a course that taught and modeled the use of Twitter for developing a PLN. We gathered resources, created video tutorials, and asked our colleagues to help publicize the class prior to us making it available. We delivered the class through Google Classroom and baby stepped the participants towards the end goal of the class which was to participate in a Twitter chat. We even developed and branded our own hashtag, #NEISDTweechers. In my personal and professional opinion, the class was a success! We had an overwhelming amount of participants (with many more on the wait list) and received nothing but great feedback on the course structure but more importantly, the Twitter chat. They loved the fact that they could use the platform as a way to engage in a conversation regarding a topic and add to it and consume the information within it as well.
What’s the moral to this story/blog post? We got people out of their comfort zone and introduced them to what I feel is the most powerful digital tool available to us educators. Many of them made mistakes during the Twitter chat as well as expressed how difficult it was at time to keep up with the tweets. Some of them even tweeted how new and different the platform was during the chat. But by the end of the chat, they all had such positive things to say about the experience. Many of which continue to add the the chat a week after it officially ended. Why? Because they made themselves uncomfortable and vulnerable just enough for their trusted colleagues to baby step them to using an unfamiliar tool. And now, they are comfortable with this new tool. So to wrap this up, if you want to grow and continue to learn, be prepared to be uncomfortable. Just know that this feeling will slowly go away as you familiarize yourself and make mistakes with it. This is how we learn. This is how we grow. Remember that first time you tasted a new food? You might have been uncomfortable at first but now, probably have it in your regular rotation. Thank you, #NEISDTweechers for being uncomfortable and now, making Twitter a part of your regular rotation!