Twitter, or more specifically those who I connect with using it, has influenced my thinking and work in a number of ways. Although, from time to time, I do hear “Twitter is a waste of time,” my experience has been that if it is a waste of time you are following the wrong people. While it is not the greatest tool for a discussion, or the best place to share deep, thoughtful commentary, it is a wonderful place to connect.
Here are the three ways it has influenced me as I look ahead to the next couple months:
My kids won’t be joining the library book club this summer
Every summer, we go to the local public library to get our sticker book and then make the weekly visits collecting stickers and exchanging books. If there is one topic I have been most influenced on this year, it is likely the use of rewards and motivation. From the powerful examples of Daniel Pink in Drive, to the sharing of Alfie Kohn’s work, to the thoughtful discussions around the use of awards in school from local educators like Chris Wejr, I am much more conscious now of using external motivators. I want my kids to love reading, and not because of a sticker. I am not as firm in my belief as some of those on Twitter around external motivators, like stickers or candy, I am much more conscious of it now than I was a year ago.
I am not going to any major conference this summer
Once students leave for their break, it is often an ideal time for adult learning. In past years, that has included attending a major conference — whether it be an event hosted by ASCD or the Building Learning Communities. These major conferences are a wonderful way to be invigorated, connect to wonderful educators, and meet informally with many people who may only be previously known through their blog. It is just not the only way to do it anymore. There are many other choices and options. Twitter allows me to drop in to a number of conferences across North America by following along with the conference hashtags. Many of the major presenters are also streamed live for those who are not in attendance. There is absolutely something about “being there” but it is not the only way. For less money and travel I can sample a number of different events, and learn from a range of thoughtful leaders.
We are going to try un-conferencing with our administrators
I have been fascinated by the growth of the “un-conference” as shared on Twitter. So many people I follow describe their experiences as the best professional learning of their lives. Whether it is the informal learning that is associated with TEDx events, the Edcamp events that seem to be all the rage in British Columbia, or a range of other participant-driven events, there are more people moving away from structuring professional learning around a series of “sit and get” Powerpoint presentations. It is common to hear educators talk about Birds of a Feather events, lightning talks and world cafes.
We hold an annual summer conference with our school administrators and will try to model the un-conference format. Our August event has often been heavy on information and outside speakers. We will try to use some less structured formats that take aspects of the Edcamp model, and also experiment with Pecha Kucha (another term I hadn’t heard before Twitter).
I will probably blog a little less frequently over the next two months, but I will be learning and growing on Twitter.
All the best for a wonderful summer break and thanks for your ongoing support and engagement in this space.