It is hard to believe the my journey with SSTLAP began 5 years ago. I began this journey after connecting with Reuben Hoffman who taught with Dave Burgess. Reuben shared his sociology materials, lessons, activities, tests, presentations, everything. He then suggested that I read the book Teach Like A Pirate, connect with Dave Burgess on Twitter and find #TLAP. My initial reaction was thanks, but Twitter is just celebrities trying to break the internet, and I can't keep up with the Kardashians, nor do I want to. But I did all of those things anyway.
So I joined Twitter and found #TLAP, and through trial and error figured out what # were all about. I got into #TLAP chat, in what I think was was during a book study session. They were talking about the book and it peaked my interest, so I came back again, and more ideas from the book, so I eventually bought the book. After reading the book and joining the chats I was hooked. I loved the chats, the ideas, but also felt overwhelmed by the speed of the chats and that they were general, and not connecting directly to my subject area of social studies.
I embarked on my journey of implementing TLAP ideas in my class that year, but still felt like I needed more specifics to my content. Ryan McLane did a chat using SSTLAP that was I believe connect to social studies that first summer. I participated and then went back to TLAP. Time went by and I was still longing for ideas on how to connect TLAP to Social Studies. I eventually reached out to Ryan and asked about SSTLAP. He gave me the green light to get it going and 5 years later here we are.
As I reflect on my time with SSTLAP I have seen the evolution of the chat. It honestly started as a way for me to gain ideas and resources for my classroom and students. I created topics often, hours or minutes prior to the chat beginning, that were inspired by my immediate needs or something that sparked an interest. The first chats were created with simple typed questions and would eventual evolve into the picture questions that everyone has come to expect. Along the way we have tried some new things like video questions made with a variety of tech tools in an attempt to share what is possible. We dabbled in video responses including Flipgrid, and even tried a Google Hangout chat.
SSTLAP has always been a source of inspiration. When I participate in the conversation I was energized for Friday and couldn't wait for the weekend to begin planning how I would implement the ideas I had learned during the chat Thursday night. SSTLAP not only filled my bucket in terms of learning and inspiration of new ideas, it has provided me a ton of connections and relationships with the most amazing, passionate, and caring educators. As I have gone through the journey of SSTLAP these past few years, I have seen educators come and go, and some have been constant. With each encounter, and conversation, I have been strengthened as both an educator and a person. For that I am eternally thankful.
This year marks the beginning of my fifth year as a tech integrator. That means that I have been out of the classroom for four years already. The past two years I have been working on my admin license and was able to complete that this past June. While working on this, and a shift in teaching roles has pushed my learning focus away from the original mission of SSTLAP. When I started the chat I wanted to always be about connecting TLAP and all best practices to make teaching social studies the best experience for teachers and students. As I continue on my own learning path I have found it more difficult to stay true to that original mission.
What I have come to realize is that I am no longer the best person to lead SSTLAP. I have been struggling to create topics that I feel meet the vision of SSTLAP. I haven't stayed true to a focus on social studies, but worked on topics that were either of interest to me in my learning, or when trying to return to reconnect, I wasn't finding the same payout. I realize this wasn't because of lack of awesome people and ideas, but rather, since I was out of the classroom, I couldn't put those ideas to use immediately. This has been my struggle of late. I haven't felt that I have been leading SSTLAP down a path that benefits you. I haven't found a way to make it connect to the incredible group of educators that are the foundation of SSTLAP.
As I struggle with the finality of sharing this post and what that means for me I know SSTLAP was never about me. The success of SSTLAP has always been derived from the fact that there have been amazing educators who show up each week, engage in conversation and inspire each other. As I have often said, I was just the guy who came up with 8 questions each week. The real testament of a good chat is whether or not people show up and what great ideas come out of the conversation, and with SSTLAP we were fortunate to have an amazing PLN carry the load.
While I am stepping away from leading SSTLAP, I am filled with hope. Hope that people will step up and take over as the next leader of SSTLAP. I have hope because I have seen this awesome group jump in whenever asked, and this summer jump in even when not asked just to keep the conversation going. I don't know if SSTLAP will remain a Twitter chat, become a Voxer Group, or just continue to be a place to share #eduwins and great ideas. I am hopeful that one of the amazing educators that have been part of SSTLAP throughout the years will step up. Maybe it becomes a group, or an open call for anyone who submit a topic and take a week to get their ideas or questions answered.
As I am wrapping this up, I will share that I had spent a hour or so writing this post earlier today and had what I thought was a really good representation of what SSTLAP has meant to me over the years. However, when I clicked post, something went wrong and it didn't save the post. I lost everything. So this is a cheap facsimile of my earlier post.
This is the part where I am supposed to share something profound, but that isn't me. Instead I will simply say, Thank You! Thank you for supporting my efforts throughout the years. There have been people who have been regulars, some who have been part of the group for awhile and left, some who discovered SSTLAP for a week or two. All of you have made a difference in my life and the lives of every teacher you have engaged with and their students as a result of planting a seed of inspiration with them. I thank each and everyone who has shared an idea, and those who have taken the inspiration they have received from this group and made your students' experiences better.
For anyone interested in leading a chat, a week, or working with a group to steer the ship, please let me know. I would love to assist in keeping SSTLAP alive and thriving. I plan on participating in the chat, I just need to step away from the responsibilities of leading each week. No matter what happens, I will continue to learn and share with my PLN and am just a Tweet away. - @Braz74