I came across this post by Tom Whitby today, and it sort of made me smile. The post amounts to a well-written rant about the online culture of information exchange and sharing. While just about every social media tool allows users to participate at varying levels of actual participation, there is something to be said for taking that step into contributing to the discussion by sharing pre-existing information of interest or information straight from your own brain.
When I look back at my own relationship with my personal learning network, I realize that I spent the first year or so only participating passively, receptively via my RSS feed. I didn’t use my Twitter account yet, and I didn’t blog about my experiences in academia. However, I was reading posts of interest and building my subscription list. I was also tagging and saving posts of interest via Diigo (which I found to be a valuable archiving tool). About a year into what I now realize was my unguided attempt at self-directed professional learning, I began sharing articles I found on my RSS feed with the Twitter #esl community. I slowly began following fellow educators after I sat in on a #ellchat Tweetchat session. It was my first experience with the synchronous use of Twitter, and I was hooked. After some fumbling around with netiquette conventions, I found myself interacting with Twitter followers and freely sharing information I came across via RSS feeds and other sources.
While lurking is an acceptable form of social media use, Whitby is onto something:
If we are to benefit from the Internet as a profession or a society we need to feel an obligation to be more than takers. We need to be makers and exchangers as well. We need to keep the exchange alive by not counting on the few, but by involving the many. We need to believe in the premise of Share and Share alike.
One of the best things about collaborating and learning online via social media is the fact that both novice and experienced teachers have a voice. It can be kind of daunting or scary to think that people will read and judge you based on what you share online, but when it comes down to it, your voice is only as loud as you make it. Everyone has something to say, and even novice teachers should not stifle their voices in fear of reproach.
I have taken part in a couple Tweetchats since the advent of my Twitter obsession, and I have to admit that I’m quite taken with how easy it is to collaborate with so many people in such an easy medium. I’m so thankful for Tweetchats (like #edchat and #ellchat), but I’ve been disappointed at the lack of discussion within the adult ESL field. Where are the voices of teachers in universities and community centers?
Alas, I have found #eapchat! I have high hopes for the discussion today, and I hope to engage with some people interested in English for academic purposes via Twitter.
I will attempt to summarize the chat this afternoon, but further discussion and a summary can also be found at the #eapchat blog.
In an attempt to explore and participate more fully in social media driven professional development I took part in the #Edchat Tweetchat that took place tonight (Jan. 15). I have only participated in one other Tweetchat as of yet, but I have found that the quality and usefulness of any Tweetchat seems to depend entirely upon the quality and quantity of the participants. Thankfully the #Edchat group seems very enthusiastic and the discussion about teacher morale was interesting, and hopefully fruitful.
The topic tonight was:
The discussion started with some suggestions and words of wisdom that included….
A few themes or ideas ran throughout the entire discussion. Perhaps most of the suggestions for maintaining teacher morale fell into one of three categories: respect/relationships among the education team in a school, teacher attitude, and teacher support. Many of the ideas touched upon during the discussion may or may not fall into one of these (or more than one of these) categories. This is simply my own summary of what I observed during the discussion.
Relationships/Culture (teachers, admin, parents, students, and everyone else on the team)
Here is some of what #Edchat had to say about relationships.
Teacher Attitudes & The Little Things
Teacher Support (PLNs)
In addition to some great insights into teacher morale, a few excellent questions were posed that might warrant further consideration and discussion:
Remember: you can visit the #Edchat wiki to see the full transcripts and other discussions of #Edchat Tweetchats.
Thanks for a great #Edchat session! The topic definitely applies in the ESL/EFL setting as well as the general educational system, and any teacher could gain some insight into what teachers around the world do to maintain morale.