It is hard to believe that it has been five years since this journey has begun. The journey of #SSTLAP. I learned about TLAP and Dave Burgess through an online encounter with Reuben Hoffman who used to taught with Dave. Reuben shared his Sociology materials with me and then pushed me to get on Twitter and read Teach Like a Pirate. I did all of those things and then got hooked! I am a huge fan of Dave's work, and have enjoyed seeing so many other educators share their vision and passion for education with their own books, chats, and educational events.
I was so inspired by the message of TLAP, and honestly looking for help in making it a reality in my own classroom, that I embarked on the journey of SSTLAP. My vision for the chat was simple, to discuss how the ideas of TLAP could be embodied in a social studies classroom. The chat grew out of my desire to find answers to my own questions and needs. Most of the early chats were written hours and sometimes minutes before the chat took place. Those chats were representative of things that were happening in my classroom. As a result, I was able to take great ideas from the amazing educators who joined and use them in my own classroom the next days or weeks.
The early days of SSTLAP were fast and furious and invigorating. I was amazed at how positive the conversation was, and how creative and willing to share members of my ever growing PLN were. I left each chat excited about what I was going to do on Friday and the planning this would lead to during the weekend.
The chat has evolved over time. It started with the typed questions, then became pictures that we have all come to expect of chats. There have been those experimental sessions where I used videos as questions, or asked participants to respond with video. We tried using Flipgrid and even a Google Hangout. I enjoyed the learning that accompanied the creation of these chat sessions. I appreciate everyone's willingness to try something new.
As I look back on five years of hosting the chat, I experienced so many amazing conversations, positive energy, and have been inspired by all those who participated and shared their ideas. The dialogue has enriched me as a teacher, but more importantly as a person.
I am about to embark on my fifth year as a technology integrator, which means I have been out of the social studies classroom for four years already. While social studies is an area of passion, I have found myself not being true to the vision of SSTLAP. I have seen the shift from Social Studies to other areas, especially technology. I have seen participants come and go, and always wonder if I was meeting the needs of those who decided they were willing to give up their time that night, or each week to be a part of the conversation. I spent the last two years working on my administrator license and completed the program in June. I have felt my passion for the chat waning. I have struggled to find a way to make it relevant and engaging to others, partly because I was struggling to create topics that fit the original vision that would also provide me with new learning.
In the end I don't think that I am the best person to lead SSTLAP. I love what the conversation has provided me, but I also know that it isn't about me, it is about the group and what is best for them. I want the chat to be lead by passionate social studies teachers like so many that show up here on a regular basis. I started naming people but know if I did that I would run out of room in this post as it would be pages upon pages of names from my amazing PLN.
I appreciate what SSTLAP has done for me. It has shaped me as an educator, provided me with confidence to try new things, and most importantly allowed me to cultivate important relationships with other passionate educators.
My hope is that a group of SSTLAP teachers will want to share the responsibilities of leading the chat and it will continue to be a place where the message of TLAP comes alive in Social Studies.
As I prepare to share this post and struggle with the finality of it, I have hope that others will keep SSTLAP moving forward. It may be a Twitter Chat, or a Voxer Group, or just a # where the magic of the classroom is shared. I have hope because this summer there were awesome teachers who stepped up and led chats. I am filled with hope because I know there are those out there who have experienced the magic of SSTLAP chats and been inspired just like I have been, and they want to continue the journey.
I still want to be a part of SSTLAP, I just am stepping away from creating the questions each week. I am looking for someone or a few someones to take over steering the ship each week.
If you are interested, please let me know. I would love to work together to set up a rotation of people, or a way for other members to submit a topic and volunteer for a week. I have always wanted this to be about the group, and I see no better way than to open the doors and invite everyone who participates in SSTLAP to have the opportunity to host a chat.
I was hoping to end with something profound but that wouldn't be me. Instead I will simply say Thank You! Thank you for supporting me for the past five years in my learning journey. As I have often said, I was just the guy who came up with eight questions, it was all those who shared their amazing responses who were the geniuses behind SSTLAP. So Thank you, and please keep in touch. I will always be just one Tweet away - @Braz74