Are people on Twitter Real or Fictitious versions of reality?
Are people on you see sharing great lessons, amazing pedagogy, and endless amounts of practical and relevant information on Twitter real, or a contrived version of reality?
People on Twitter are 90% real- well I have no real basis for that number, but I think about the idea of perception. The most positive person on Twitter, the person who always seems so happy that you think they are most likely singing along with each and every tweet they post. Those people that sometimes get under our skin because they never seem to have a bad day, you know who I am talking about. They can't be like that all the time can they? Maybe some of them can, but my bet is that there are times when they too get frustrated, annoyed, maybe at the negative people around them, but yes they get annoyed too. So what is the real personality of these people? They are human just like the rest of us, they are imperfect, they make mistakes, and they work to grow and learn each day like the rest of us.
We are all human!
The best example of this was a priest who swore in church during our confirmation class when I was a teenager. I was shocked, I thought OMG (yes I like to think I was so cool I created OMG decades before it caught on) he just swore, priests aren't supposed to do that. He went on to teach us that he too is human, he too makes mistakes and yes when he smacks his finger with a hammer he has not chosen his words as carefully as he would like. My point is I learned that although he dressed up in the pristine white robes each Sunday, he too was human and couldn't maintain the appearance of perfection in all facets of life all the time.
Perception versus Reality
Do I think there are people who pretend to be more infallible than they really are more often than not? Sure. There are those who want us to believe they are better educators than they are able to be at this time. I think most of us share the best of our selves publicly. I also know many of the educators that I have connected with via Twitter, when meeting Face to Face are as passionate, if not more so than what comes across on Twitter. I think people who showcase their best work aren't intending to seem perfect, but rather see the value in the good things they have created and would rather discuss those aspects of their professional body of work than their failings.
I do however think that as educators we need to share our failings too. We want to show students that it is okay to fail. It is how you respond to that failure that matters. In that vain, I hope that we learn from good practices in our classroom to model the realities of learning by sharing the whole learning process, both the success and the struggles to achieve that success. None of us are perfect, we are just people. That should inspire all of us to realize that the great things we are seeing from others is achievable in all of us.
The challenge is to Leave mediocrity behind and strive for greatness!
Education is becoming more complex in terms of the demands and constraints placed upon us as educators. There are more challenges to overcome and more demands on our time than ever. Last year I went through educator effectiveness for the first time, and I think I had the best year of teaching in my career. I am not crediting educator effectiveness with this success, although I do think the push to be reflective on our teaching practices was a positive. What really allowed me to overcome the obstacles of mediocrity was the development of my PLN. I was pushed to check out Twitter by an amazing educator and this led to the connections with other passionate educators that have forever changed my teaching experience. I have made friendships, have collaborated on lesson plans and have learned to fail with these people. I have opened myself up to trying new things, reflecting on my shortcomings and working to improve my own practice. I am better off as an educator and human being because of the amazing people in my PLN. So I thank each and everyone of them for connecting with me and assisting me in my journey!
The Anthem to live by!
This summer I found myself singing along (alone in my car) to this song frequently. It is a catchy tune and while this summer had it's share of trials and tribulations, I belted out the lyrics of this song in my own tone def manner as if it were my own personal anthem. I felt like each and everyday was ripe with possibilities. The only thing that could prevent the day from achieving its full potential was me. I included the video for the song below.
Setting the Stage-
Before I get too far into the post, I am very excited about what happened in my professional career yesterday. However, I don't want to diminish other days in my life. The day I married my beautiful wife, the birth of my two daughters, and a list of other are definitely on the top of the list for Best Days in My Life! Yesterday stood out because of the powerful connection being made between a father and daughter in a colleagues class due to a technology app I shared with the teacher.
This amazing experience was the result of a simple app called Homeroom. @gethomeroom on Twitter
What made this connection possible? An app called Homeroom. It is an app I found via Twitter a couple weeks ago. I began playing around with the app after having conversations at #edcampgb with other educators, especially Michael Matera @MrMatera.
Michael and I were presenting on sharing the events of your classroom with parents and community. I talked about blogging and inviting parents into your classroom. Michael brought up using apps like Remind but preferred Celly to share out with parents. These are apps that allow teachers to send text messages to parents or students.
Remind is one way only, the teacher sends messages but parents or students cannot respond.
Celly does the same but has some added features to allow for group discussions in your class. Both are able to be archived to reflect the conversations that took place between the individuals involved.
Okay back to the use of these apps, he suggested sending conversation starters to parents such as "Ask your son/daughter about today's Ellis Island Simulation." This breaks down the lack of communication or the traditional - Parent: What did you learn or do in class today? Student: Nothing! This creates opportunities for communication.
Instagram is another example we discussed during our session. I have used Instagram in my personal life, but never saw it as a potential method of sharing out classroom happenings. Michael also suggested using Instagram to share out pictures with parents in a quick more private manner. Parents have to follow his Instagram feed in order to access images of his classroom.
Making the most of the potential possibilities!
All of these examples, along with many other apps and application of these technologies will allow you to bring your classroom to life for parents who are not able to be present with you and their son/daughter daily. They all invite parents to see what is happening and open the dialogue between parent and child. In the end these conversations strengthen the relationship between all involved.
I began this post with the app Homeroom in mind. Homeroom is a very new app just released in the beginning of October. I started to explore what the app can do by taking pictures of the cool things I was seeing in the schools I work in. I put them into my Homeroom feed, but that is where it kind of ends. I don't have students I work with on a regular basis, so I don't have a group of parents to share this app with.
I wanted to see how this app would work to do some of the things I previously discussed in the other apps. I needed to find teachers willing to give this a try. I was able to find a few willing participants in the past couple of weeks. My hope was to test the app, see how well it functioned, and give those teachers a leg up in documenting their classroom practices as well as building relationships with their families. To be honest, I didn't think there would be a significant impact on the relationship piece. This isn't in terms of the meaningful connection it would make with those who used the app and received the updates of class events. My skepticism was due to the fact that I didn't expect a lot of parents to sign up for the app. As of this post, I don't think there are a lot of parents who have signed up, but the teachers have only been doing this for a few days. I am hopeful this number will grow, and even if it isn't a large number the potential impact for those students and parents is tremendous.
The moment that made it all worth while! One of the teachers sent me an email yesterday that her students came into her class talking about the pictures she had shared via Homeroom. Some of the students parents had already shown their son/daughter the pics and started a dialogue with the student. With this I must admit I was excited to see the quick response and interaction that resulted. When I got to the school and was able to meet with the teacher, I was caught off guard by my emotional response to the story she shared.
When students began talking about their experiences at home the night before, she decided to show the rest of her class the app projected on the screen in her room. Students saw the pictures that the teacher had taken and were able to see that some parents liked and commented on the images. This is when one young lady saw who liked a picture of her. It was her dad. About a year ago her dad had moved out of state to take a job to support the family. When this young student saw that her dad had interacted with her picture, she asked- Can my dad see what I am doing in class? The teacher responded yes, at this point the student broke down. This was a connection that she had been missing in her life.
Hearing this story I was emotional- I couldn't get over the fact that a simple app allowed this dad and daughter to reconnect. Another cool part of the experience was other students began to think about other possibilities. Could my grandparents in Germany see this? They were excited to share their classroom experiences. They wanted to connect with their families.
I can't take credit for the experience this teacher, or these students had using the app. I consider this to be one of the greatest days in my professional career because I was able to witness the power a compassionate teacher can have on the lives of her students. In my new role as a Tech Integrator I am allowed to interact with more amazing teachers, talk technology, ideologies, and most importantly share amazing stories about student successes. I am so excited to be part of an amazing district with so many passionate educators.