Considerations for Becoming a Connected Educator
As human beings we always experience implementation dips. I’ve lived in that world now for a few years and am getting ready for it again with our third child. I vividly remember each of my child’s milestones. Whether it be crawling, walking or riding their bike, each one has fallen down, but gotten back up and tried it again. And if you are a parent you know how it goes, eventually there is an epiphany and you never look back!
Like our kids, adults often experience implementation dips. In fact, so do organizations. As many educators call into question the value of social media for professional growth, I only ask that you don’t give up on your first implementation dip. Check out some of these stories from some of the most connected and innovative leaders I know.
Feel free to share your epiphany in the comments section.
Amateurs vs Professionals
What really separates the amateurs from the professionals is the professionals tend to work through the implementation dips They realize the power of practice that influences mindset and so the principals that give up during the implementation dip, they don’t really get to see the power of the tool or what’s working.
A Game Changer:
For me, I found this niche of passion educators that I never knew existed. I was very intrigued because they were talking about things that I had no clue about. I quickly realized I was living [meaning my own learning] on an island and that that my school was stagnant. As the principal, I started to learn so many incredible lesson ideas and projects, which I could bring to my teachers. The ideas were coming in from all over the world and I was maintaining these global connections. It was then that I started to take control of my own learning. I soon started to wonder, how I could get this sort of excitement for learning to flow throughout my entire school building.
From Traditional PD to Twitter:
When I first signed up for Twitter I didn’t know what to do. So, I started connecting with other principals and swapping ideas. The next thing I know I got hooked up with a couple of more principals from all around the country and it just kind of took off from there. We started sharing ideas, and it really opened up the door for me. I never could have imagined how powerful this could be for my own learning. And now, I can’t imagine being without it.
Getting Outside My Comfort Zone
I got the Scholastic Administrator magazine that showcased this small group of principals on Twitter. It was such great timing because, just that week, I felt as if I had reached a point where I was feeling very stagnant in my own learning. I actually felt like I had “checked out” a little bit in terms of my own learning. Although my school was in the top one % of achievement in our region, it was starting to bother me. Using the magazine as a source of inspiration, I decided to join Twitter. At first my plan was to just follow other principals and watch what was going on. The first two people that I connected with were @nmhsprincipal and @toddwhitaker – who I love, and whose books I had read and who was really a big part of shaping my educational leadership philosophy.
At first I didn’t really feel connected to people. That was tough because when you are a principal, that’s all you do is connect to people, whether it’s your kids or your teachers, so that piece was kind of missing. But a few months later, following some watching, I attended ASCD. There was a “tweet-up” that night which is where I met @nmhsprincipal and then @toddwhitaker in person, among many others who I’d been following. When I got a chance to meet Todd and he knew who I was, this changed everything for me.
A Story of a New Principal and the Support from Colleagues Around the Globe
I was a first-year principal in a new state and the entire administrative team was also new. So, I felt like I had nobody to share ideas with for the entire year. I had nobody to turn to for anything. I would call on administrators that I worked with in my old position; however, this was a completely different setting or school population. My first year was so hard.
Then, I somehow had been listening to the podcast called the “Practical Principals” and in this one episode the presenter was talking about Twitter as a tool for professional learning. I continued to listen to probably three months worth of podcasts until I finally gave Twitter a try. I started by creating an account and connecting with five principals. Truthfully, that alone, just following the conversations on Twitter and slowly participating in some conversations is what saved me. The principals I connected with were experiencing the same problems as I and I soon realized I could do this job. I no longer needed to run and hide.
Would love to hear your epiphany as a connected educator! Comments welcomed!