I love Twitter chats. I like reading other people’s thoughts and getting a feel for their passions. I like hearing from educators who think like me and even more from those who don’t. I like reading blog posts from teachers and administrators from around the world in which I learn about the amazing things that happen in their classrooms and schools. I like it when my thinking is challenged. I like to challenge the thinking of others. I have learned things that I didn’t even know I didn’t know…now, that’s powerful. Never have I experienced professional development that has been more personal and powerful or that has pushed me so far outside of my comfort zone. Now you’re probably thinking, so what’s your dilemma? I haven’t gotten there yet…stick with me…
Recently, I was lucky enough to join a group of educators from Hilliard who started a Twitter chat called #hcsdchat. This has been an energizing experience that put me on the other side of Twitter chats, engaging the audience, choosing relevant topics and thought provoking questions…still not my dilemma. However, after a few weeks of the chat I find myself wondering if our chat is just that, a lot of chatting without much carryover into our day to day practice. Is there action being taken? Are we simply saying what we think others want to hear or are we challenging one another to shift and grow and reflect? And, this is my dilemma.
So, I raise the question, why chat?
Personally, I think that the first steps to taking action are chatting, talking, thinking, pondering, wondering, questioning and even talking some more. I think that before we make tangible changes we have to spend time chatting. I believe that change is a gradual process and that the act of participating in thoughtful discussions is the first step. Like I said above, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know about education a few months ago and there’s even more out there to learn.
Professionally I know that we measure the quality of our professional development by the change that it evokes. Back to my dilemma-is chatting good enough for now? Is it even possible to measure the change that comes from partaking in PD on Twitter? Does it matter? Or is the choice one makes to participate in the conversation evidence enough?
What I do know is that I want to challenge our #hcsdchat participants to use Twitter as a forum to listen and be heard, to question and answer, to challenge and be challenged, to unlearn and relearn. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone or maybe even better, as Greg Curran recently tweeted “Creep up to the edge of your comfort zone…then jump!
Why do you chat?
I spent Saturday at my first EdCamp. It was an amazing experience that was unlike any PD I've ever been part of. Several friends of mine have asked me how it was and what it was like. I had a hard time explaining it because I just can’t seem to put it into words. After pondering the experience all weekend, I realized that EdCamp is all about the “vibe”. It’s hard to explain, but when you’re there, you’re inspired, empowered and engaged in a way that doesn't compare to “normal” PD. It’s almost as if EdCamp is a mindset; a state of being in which you are free from “the system” as you know it and are able to envision education for what it’s really all about---STUDENTS! What a concept!
After the vibe of EdCamp sank in, I started thinking about my vibe. Many of us have been asked the famous interview question, “Talk about your philosophy on education.” (I could go on and on about Vygotsky and Zone of Proximal Development, but I’ll spare you.) Many of us have also been asked to write a mission statement. But, have you ever thought about your vibe. I haven’t, but this weekend I started to.
What’s my vibe? What feeling do others get when they’re around me? When I speak about education, what do I really say? What do my actions say about me as an educator? How am I perceived by students, staff and parents? What is my vibe?
I don’t think a vibe can clearly be put into words, but if it could, I hope that my vibe includes these:
On a quest
When people meet you they won’t automatically know what your philosophy or mission statement is. But, they will "get your vibe" and I have come to realize that the vibe is much more important.
What’s your “vibe”?
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.