If you had told me on Independence Day I would be a Tweeter and blogger within the next 10 days, I would have looked at you like your head had exploded like a firework. As I sit here this Saturday morning, I am certainly the first, and when I finish writing this, I will become the second. Why the sudden change? Has mid-life caused me to try to seem hip and trendy? Do I want to know all the celebrity gossip and up-to-the-minute sports announcements? Do I long to have my meager thoughts on the web forever? No, these things did not draw me to stretch myself, even though I did enjoy all the tweet about King James returning home.
No, I am expanding my circle of learning because I am an educator. As an educator, I always strive to learn and to do new things because if I stop learning, I begin to lose my effectiveness. As an educator, I also practice self-reflection. As I reflect on this new journey, several additional themes emerge to help explain my new experience.
Cowboy Up: In essence, here in Wyoming, this means you have to keep trying. While I do not use these words with kids when they write, I do give them the message that they have to ‘cowboy up’ each day and explore their world through the written word. Writing this blog reminds me of the risk I am asking them to take. Sure, as a teacher I write all the time, but seldom do I publish that work to respected peers and eagerly await their feedback. Blogging is going to cure that situation pretty quickly. Once I hit publish, it will be out there for the world to ‘enjoy.’ The next time I am in class and see that struggling writer sitting there, I will understand why they are nervous and think they do not have anything to say. I will share my three days and multiple rehearsals with this blog and encourage them to ‘cowboy up.’
Synergy: I am blessed to be a member of a Leader in Me Lighthouse school. These schools live the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Covey) and guide students in living them. Habit #6 is Synergize. Basically, it means together we are better. I have experienced that in my own school frequently. My idea of with whom I synergize has exploded. I joined Twitter and experienced the community of educators who are passionate about what they do and who are eager to help others. I am now a member of this virtual community, and as a member, I have a role of sharing my thoughts and reflections to add to the greater good. I hope my reflections will help fellow educators on their journey to the deep level that their reflections help me.
Celebration: I have been teaching for 20+ years and I love what I do, but if I am honest, I was starting to feel a little in a rut. I have been at my current school for five years. A long time for me! I constantly am looking for a new challenge and adventure. However, I can’t leave this school! I spent a year of my professional life helping my principal and three other teachers design our curriculum, cultural expectations, procedures and the building. I could not just pack my boxes and move to another school. I needed something to add some wood to the fire that was not burning white hot anymore. Connecting with other fully engaged educators on Twitter is revitalizing the flame. In less than a week, my summer reading list has gained 20 titles (may not get them all read) and I have acquired ideas about 10 new online platforms I need to explore with my students (certainly won’t try every one). Now, I am invigorated to go back to my students in the fall.
Why start this blog with a thought about Independence day? Just as our world was changed on the first July 4th, my professional world is changing for the better because of my new virtual community.