answers, assumptions, balance, being a teacher, twitter

Is Twitter a Cop Out?

I am a Twitter fanatic, if you ask anyone, in particular my husband, they will tell you how often I quote something that I learned abut from this social media or how this or that idea came from there. Twitter has enriched my life in ways that I would never imagined when I first signed on a few years ago. In fact, Twitter has radically changed the way I teach and the way I think. Not bad for 140 characters.

As I get more involved with Twitter and the people that I connect with though, I am starting to wonder whether Twitter to me has become the ultimate cop out? By reaching out through the internet, limiting myself mostly to blog posts (which are pretty one-sided) and 140 character tweets, am I shutting off real face-to-face collaboration? You see Twitter doesn’t talk back all that much or go to the teacher’s lounge and roll its eyes. Twitter doesn’t go to your principal laughing at the new hare-brained idea that was just presented. In short, Twitter doesn’t make me take a risk. If I offer up an idea I seldom get negative feedback, instead some people take the time to praise it and often comment. I do the same for others, in fact, I hardly ever discuss something in negative terms unless everyone else is. So Twitter becomes the ultimate safety net where we are not forced out of our comfort zones but instead selectively choose who we care to share with and listen to. But I wonder whether that is “real life?” Or does it even need to be?

It struck me today as I read one of my student’s blog posts about what was missing in 4th grade. Her comment was that she wished we did more with the other 4th grade classes. And she is so right; that is missing from this year. And not because we don’t want to, the initiative just never gets taken. Instead we create global connections which have been incredible parts of our school year, yet perhaps we forgot about our local connection in the bigger picture. bAnd yet it is those local connections that radically determine our day, it is those local connections that see all our flaws and strengths, that see us grow without a lens. Those people that can have the most profound effect on us.

At school when I have an idea I have to find people willing to participate in it, someone whom I trust enough to listen to me and who will then weigh their options. I have to make my case and put myself out there for possible rejection, and it hurts when something gets shot down. Yet it is through these awkward moments of self-selling that we become bigger people and a tighter knit school community. Let’s face it, it takes real courage to speak up at a staff meeting surrounded by your everyday peers. Does it take courage to speak up on Twitter?

So I guess I leave you with this question; has Twitter strengthened your local relationships as well or has it made it easier for you to forget about them? Are we all, in fact, just hiding behind our computers waiting for someone like-minded to come and find us? I am not sure anymore.

aha moment, answers, assumptions, balance, being a teacher, believe, change, education, education reform, educators, elementary, hopes, inspiration, invest, school staff, talented, teachers, teaching

Bring Out the Experts

The education community loves experts. Experts are flown in, bussed in, and wined and dined. If you are an expert on something chances are there is a school that wants to pay you for sharing your thoughts. In fact, you don’t even have to claim to be an expert, others will often bestow that title upon you as a favor. After all, how else will your expense be excused? So I wonder, how does one become an expert, after all, aren’t we all just humble learners?

The word expert is tinged with weight. To be an expert you must be not just knowledgable, but also an authority. Yet who decides when one is an authority? Does it need a book deal? A huge following? Or someone else who is an expert to look at you kindly? Who decides who the experts are?

We are quick to bring in outside experts whenever there is a need but often I wonder who could we have turned to on-site? Who at this school could already have shared that same information at a fraction of the price? Who at this school could have had the opportunity to teach others, much as we teach our students every day. I consider myself lucky being surrounded by experts every day. I find myself among some incredible educators that work hard to bring their expertise into the classrooms to benefit the students. Isn’t it time for all of us to recognize the experts among us?

I dare to propose that we are all experts. Although not world known, or even known outside of our small circles, yet we are knowledgable of something particular, something that we can claim authority on. And so consider this; at school you are indeed surrounded by experts. Whether they are experts at teaching the civil war, grammar, haikus or how to dribble, they have deep intimate knowledge that they can pass on to others. So share your expertise with others, go ahead open up and discuss what you know you are good at. We have to get better at celebrating each others knowledge, each others succeses, simply each other. We are all experts, how will you foster expertise?