Sewing would have been the hook...

I taught a building your PLN (Personal Learning Network) via Twitter course for my school district the week before winter break. I was so excited for the opportunity to share Twitter and my PLN with other teachers in my district. I also had plenty of snacks (always important for after school meetings).  I was ready to make the case for WHY rather than HOW.

Three students arrived. Two of the three seemed to get started right away creating their Personal Learning Networks. However, I had a school counselor in my class that seemed to have more difficulty.  She struggled to sign-up on her iPad and then we had trouble getting Tweetdeck set-up for her on her laptop. Partly my error as I'm not so familiar with PCs. Finally ready for the fun stuff:  finding followers, adding columns of interest and writing a profile. I fell short.  I wasn't aware of #scchat at the time so finding relevant counseling material was a challenge. And surprisingly, her face didn't light-up when I said she could actually follow @chrislehmann @willrich45 @angelamaiers and  @alfiekohn. She did mention something about sewing as an interest but I just skipped over her attempt at making the tool  relevant  and tried again with @danpink and @debmeier.  Still nothing.

Class ended. Although the other two participants were quite happy with their new learning, I had the counselor on my mind.  I went home and did a few Twitter searches on sewing.  WOW!  I can barely sew a button but was amazed at all the cool information trending on sewing. I could see adding it to my list of hobbies. Why didn't I allow her to focus on her passion in class? She would have been hooked.

This experience brought up a few issues in prepping for my next class.

  1. Meet my students where their interests and passions lie when introducing Social Media.  I cannot assume that passion is education. Just because I use Twitter just for "work" doesn't mean others will or should do the same.
  2. Having a list of the current educational hashtags is crucial.

Lastly, is there a possibility that (in 2014) most educators who are passionate about education are already connected, reading blogs, and use Twitter?  Is there a purpose for teachers uninterested in education in general to develop PLNs?  Or, will a powerful PLN develop an interest in education? Did I learn about so many educational giants via my PLN or vice versa?  What comes first the chicken or the egg? 

Twitter is my choice

In the last few days I have found 30 +  valuable Tweets containing content that I will use at some point in the next few weeks. Here are just a few of the resources that showed up in my Tweetdeck app that I have shared with colleagues. Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 1.04.36 PM     Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 1.18.45 PM   Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 1.37.32 PM

Día de los muertos                  Mi novio es un zombi             The Relevant Teacher

As good as Twitter is, I am still one of the only teachers that uses it in my District for Professional Development.  So, in order to share content/resources/connections, I have to use a listserve, an email or a  face-to-face conversation. Sure, it take another few steps to share out the content to teachers not on Twitter. However, we need to meet teachers where they are at the moment.

I like what AJ Julian writes in It's OK for Teachers NOT to be on Twitter . "Twitter may not be for everyone.  There are other options that might be better for various reasons for others."

I agree. I joined the MoreTPRS listserve almost 20 years ago and am still a member.  I never would have learned what I have about language acquisition and methodology without the inspiration and collaboration of this amazing network.  I have formed many friendships with these educators and look forward to seeing them in person at various conferences around the world.  I cannot yet claim the same for my Twitter relationships. For years many of these amazing language teachers were not yet on Twitter so I spent my Language Learning PD mostly on the MoreTPRS listserve (meeting them where they were). I used Twitter for more Tech, Leadership, and general Education topics.  Thankfully, many of these awesome language teachers are now on Twitter.

Yes,  let's meet our teachers where they are but slowly sharing with them the power and ease of Twitter or Google + is a good thing, too.  I plan to give another little demo on the power of building your own PLN. Twitter will be the first tool I mention. If you are thinking of doing the same, here are a few resources you might want to use. Twitter Handout

Twitter Infographic

Twitter 101 Presentation


Time to get out of the eddy

EddyFlowerPic I've spent hours, days and even years sitting in my kayak acting as eddy flower.  Colorado rivers are scary and their rapids are even scarier. The safe place, then, is always the eddy until you are confident to get into the big water.  Here you can safely watch your friends surf the waves without taking risks. In Jeff Utecht's book REACH he gives us permission to lurk (stay in the eddy) when first building your Professional Learning Network (PLN). He says it's part of the process. He's right. However, I have been lurking far too long. I've been reading blogs for education for many years. I've encouraged and taught teachers to blog and to tweet.  Years ago I could get away with the "do as I say..." mantra but today I need to model for my students true global collaboration, sharing, and learning. It's my turn to leave the eddy and play in the big waves.  I am not truly confident in my skills but I am hoping this COETAIL experience will give me both the confidence and inspiration to improve my digital footprint and deepen my learning in the process.