For the last few months, there has been a grumbling in my soul regarding my “Personal Learning Network” — or as I prefer to call them “my friends online”.
Instead of moving forward, it feels we have come to a crossroads and have stalled.
As the dweller that I am — I have spent some time in self-reflection of why this might be (both as a participant and also as a grateful receiver of info).
…..and just decided to share my thoughts.
1. The honeymoon is over.
The newness of wonderment with this thing called “twitter” or “PLN” is now over. We are getting to know each other – the true parts of each other — and seeing each others pros and cons. With familiarity at times can come contempt. The being on our best behavior (whether some of us ever really were — grins) has also faded and there is impatience and nit picking where before there was compromise and “this I can ignore.” Plus, the small network that was manageable is now huge — and at times overwhelming and overstimulating.
Because the “honeymoon” is over — reality is settling in…..which can be a good thing, as well as bad — it just seems (to me) that we are not as nice to each other as we used to be.
2. I am right, therefore you must be wrong mentality
If we are truly in a time of “reformation” in education, the #1 thing we cannot do is shoot each other down. Yet, we are doing so. Arguments over the pros or cons of Interactive White Boards, whether twitter or facebook should be allowed in classrooms, are there new literacies, constructivism, manipulatives, worksheets, tech or not tech, — feel free to add to this list — are eating away at our power because we are dividing over simple things that are not important. Instead of celebrating the success of someone getting into Apple Distinguished Educator or Google Teacher — people are being belittled for even applying —
and I don’t get that.
At a time that we need to strengthen our group — it seems we are destroying our group from within. And I don’t know why.
3. We have stopped listening
Take the time to watch a conversation at the next upcoming conference and count the seconds of breathing time from when one person concludes a thought to where the next person jumps in with their idea. It is minuscule. The time of reflection has diminished into nothing. People are so ready to share their ideas, that they have stopped taking to time to listen to others.
And, we are missing out on good F2F conversations because we are tethered to the conversations in our devices.
Just recently at a dinner event in Texas, I spoke for 20 minutes with Christine — F2F, no interruptions, no let me share this on twitter and invite 1,900 people to jump into the conversation. It was 1 on 1 chat. We didn’t solve the worlds problems, conquer the ed-tech issues….but we talked, listened and shared. Personally, I need to do that MUCH more often.
I think we are missing out on some good conversations because we are forgetting how to listen, reflect, and sometimes stay quiet.
4. We are forgetting who the true experts are
At both recent conferences I went to….as well as upcoming conferences…..there is a lack of teacher voices sharing from the microphone and also from the audience. There is a vast amount of “former” teachers’ but very few “in the classroom teachers.”
and those are who I think we need to be listening to.
Yes, I was a classroom teacher for 21 years of my life and a very good teacher (if I say so myself) but I have been away from the classroom since 2006 — and A LOT HAS CHANGED.
Sure, good techniques, skills, and ideas are timeless — but how I experienced my individual classroom is much different than how you did — or how current teachers will as well.
I believe we need to open the microphones to more “in the classroom teachers” and let them share their successes, their failures, their hopes, their disappointments, and encourage their voices to be heard. Not silenced by people who are held as experts who have NOT been in the classroom for a very long time. (and yes, I add myself to that list of voices that need to be subdued a bit.)
5. We have built ourselves into an educational silo
Yes, it is true…..we are singing to the choir.
We wander to conferences and then go hear people we have heard tens of times already.
We comment on each others blog posts and edit each others wikis and add to each others google docs.
We RT our friends …..
and then wonder why nothing is changing.
This is the hardest area I personally am working on — because I love to support friends, and I truly enjoy spending time talking with friends. (very very much)
But I also know that I am becoming content with having the same conversations with the same people about the same things…..and then nothing new gets accomplished.
It is my goal — at the CUE conference in 2 weeks — that I get out of my comfortable silo and start inviting in some new conversations, some new discussions, and some new ideas.
Perhaps this is just a rant — but I feel like right now I am spinning within my “PLN” and not getting anywhere. I am disappointed that I don’t see encouragement — yet very often see people being cut down and I very much want the “in classroom” voice to be heard and to be listened to.
For me, the honeymoon might be over — with this social network media kind of stuff. But — that might be exciting…..the “we are in this together — for better or for worse”….might just be what propels us forward….to change, to reformation, to listening to each other.
I am frustrated — but I am optimistic.
I don’t wish to see us fail. I am continually anticipating our success.
Just my thoughts.