There is some language in the following video, just as a heads up…
That video makes me laugh, but it also strikes a chord for me. I’ve been in a room with a bat, more than once, and I found it terrifying. It would require a significant amount of courage for me to do what that man is doing, trying to catch that bat in order to release it. The camera man is, to my eyes, supporting and encouraging, making it easier for the other man to be courageous. It is easier to have courage, if not easy, when there are people supporting and encouraging you.
We talk a lot in education circles about what technology can do for our students and I believe in that. I am lucky enough to be in a 1 to 1 classroom and to be able to offer my students the benefits of technology regularly. However, I think technology offers us, as educators, something equally powerful. Technology allows us to connect with others. We can quickly, deeply, and efficiently connect with educators across the country and around the world. We can build connections with others who support us and encourage us to have the courage to take risks, to do what is right for our students and our profession. We can build connections with others who can teach us and who can push us beyond our comfort zones.
I began teaching in 1998 and I began blogging in 2005. I’m sure I grew a lot in those first few years of teaching – I think it would be impossible not to do so! I did my National Board Certification in 2002 and I know that helped me improve as a teacher immensely. But. I am confident that the best thing I have ever done for my own professional growth is blog. Blogging forces me to reflect on what I am doing as a teacher, the choices I am making. That’s a critical thing for a teacher to do. That can be done in a journal, however. Clearly I don’t, but it could be done that way and it would be useful. It wouldn’t be as useful as blogging though, because it would be private. Blogging not only forces me to reflect, but doing that where others can read it, allows for feedback. Others can read my reflections and respond. They can ask questions. They can validate and affirm my choices. They can push back. They can help me see things in a different light, from another perspective. That is what blogging has done for me.
Then, in 2007, I joined twitter. That increased the size of my professional village beyond my expectations. Not only did twitter allow me to get to know so many educators who are models for me but the hashtags brought me into conversations that broadened my understanding of what education can and should be.
Some people from whom I learn regularly:
- Julia E. Torres
- Audrey Watters
- Jose Luis Vilson
- Jenn Binis
- Bill Fitzgerald
- Jesse Stommel
- Zac Chase
- Roxane Gay
- Marian Dingle
- Shana V. White
- Sherri Spelic
Some hashtags I love:
I’m sure I’m forgetting many people and hashtags, but this is a good start.
I am certain I am a more courageous educator because of technology. Seeing others who are doing the hard work, who are standing up for kids and each other, who are taking risks for what they know is right – they help me to do the same. There is an immense network of brilliant, thoughtful, caring educators who are there to catch me when I fall, who listen when I feel I have failed, and who have my back when the work is hard. They also offer me a window into their worlds, the worlds of other educators, people who are courageous and who are doing all of the things that terrify me but that I know matter. Seeing people doing that work is inspiring and it is also a kick in the butt.
That’s what the online world feels like to me. It feels like I have found a place that strengthens me. Being here makes me stronger and more able to do the hard work.