I’m going to make a bit of a confession. I have a complex relationship with being a networked educator. I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter chats. I have a love/hate relationship with blogging and blog reading. I have a love/hate relationship with educator Facebook groups too. If there was an option for my relationship status with any of the above, mine would say “it’s complicated.”
Here’s the thing, if our students are connected, we should be connected. So…I’m invested with the caveat that I am also practical and purposeful with that investment. But, I wasn’t always.
I used to do a ton of Twitter chats. Sometimes I scheduled my nights around them or did two or three at once. It was all good. I learned a ton. I made important connections, connections that have impacted my practice. A Twitter chat is how I came to participate in #BLOG365. But, I started to notice many Twitter chats, although they all had different names and participants, often rehashed the same thing over and over again. The content was redundant. Frequently redundant. Questions were the same, but asked in a slightly different way. Often times the same people were participating. Sometimes those chats were just not what I needed. Sometimes they seemed surface level and I wanted to go deeper. Other times there were so many participants in a chat I couldn’t keep up with the conversation which can be frustrating. Even if I wanted to engage, and even using TweetDeck, the conversation was whizzing by me. I found myself reflecting on my participation and the use of my time so I backed off a tad and started to use the rule of two feet with them. More than once I have introduced myself in a Twitter chat and then stepped out of the conversation because it wasn’t applicable to me. I have moved to being a creeper on many chats. There are times just watching is enough. I participate in far fewer Twitter chats than I used to. Now I have time to fully digest the ones I join.
#BLOG365 is probably one of the best things to happen to me in awhile. It’s been a long time since I took the time to reflect openly about my practice and I appreciate the connections and my support group. I’m not going to lie. Some days it is painful to knock out a blog post. Some days it’s all I can do to get through it. Positive accountability is good and I haven’t missed a day yet. That makes me incredibly proud of myself. I read other blogs and get frustrated with my writing sometimes. As much as I try not to, I end up comparing my writing to that of others and it’s not productive. It’s a lesson I would teach my kids, but one I am still coming to terms with as an adult. I also have this problem of reading blog posts and getting so caught up in new ideas and strategies I lose sight of my focus. I want to try everything and I can’t. I want to share, constantly, and I can’t. I have learned to pocket what I gain from blogs and file it away for later .
I am in one Facebook group for educators that simply drives me crazy with posts. I feel like I must get 50 notifications a day from it. I have been part of it for a long time and I have even said something to the moderator about the necessity of some of the posts or the constant changing of pictures that result in notification after notification. I am too chicken to take myself out of the group, however. I am afraid one day I will miss something really important and so I put up with the excessive posts and the material not applicable to me. When I have a moment I scroll through the group posts and I have learned to ignore the notifications that blow up my phone.
This love/hate relationship with being networked reminds me that we always need to be cognizant of what it is like for a student to be inundated with media content day in and day out. As adults, we are usually pretty good at curating content and interpreting it. This is a skill that needs to be explicitly taught. Our responsibility is to teach students to interact with content in a productive and purposeful way and teach them when to step back. It’s a daunting task because it’s not something we were taught. Navigation of immediate access to knowledge is new for our students and for us. I can’t name a time in my education when my teacher was learning right along with me. Together we are on a learning journey and there is tremendous power and potential in our joint path.