Back in early Spring of 2007, I joined the Web2.0 revolution. I joined Classroom 2.0, Twitter, and Facebook. Actually, I’d had a Facebook account, but wasn’t really using it. When I started visiting those networks, reading and sharing, my professional life was profoundly changed.
I found that visiting them was wonderful learning, but there was another level of power, a level of need I had that I didn’t know anything about. Yet.
Let me explain…
Starting in August of 2006, I was beyond busy creating and building a PBL school and trying to learn the technology for the 1:1 MacBook program we had. See, coming into this job, I thought already had technology skills. I knew the Microsoft Office Suite well, I could surf and search the Web pretty well, and, unlike many of my former traditional-school colleagues back then, I could navigate my computer’s Start menus and attach things to emails. Yes indeed, I had the skillz! That is, until I was face to face with my students in my brand-new 1:1 laptop school, where I realized quickly on the first day I wasn’t the smartest tech person in the school. One of my little 5th graders was!
All that Fall and Winter, I tried hard to learn from him, as I pretended to be smarter, struggling to create this school on my own. In the Spring of 07, Kevin Honeycutt showed me Classroom 2.0 and Twitter and told me I needed to join. I didn’t understand why, but I joined. And the world came alive!
All of a sudden, I was bringing tools and tech knowledge to my kids! Things they’d never heard of! It was me, not the 5th grader! How? I was spending HOURS in these networks, neglecting my family, lesson plans, and probably other things I didn’t even notice. But I did notice it was taking a lot of time. Looking back, I did it simply because Kevin told me to and he was the only support (beyond the 5th grader and the other kids’ parents) I was getting in building this school.
But while I was enjoying a fireworks session of learning, I had not yet learned the power of a network.
That August (2007), I was at a technology conference. I was feeling pretty smug, looking around and realizing I knew a lot of tech (Web2.0) tools compared to most of the other participants. One teacher stopped me and asked me how to ______. Ok, honestly, I don’t remember what she needed. But I do remember being overly confident, flippant, and saying, “Sure! I know that. That’s easy!” When in reality, I didn’t know how to do it. I knew my kids did it (that 5th grader, remember?). But as for me knowing how to do it from start to finish? I was bluffing. Stupidly.
I sat down with her to show off and of course it didn’t work. So I laughed, made an excuse, and tried again.
I was embarrassed after the first failure. After the 5th, I asked for her email, assuring her I’d find the answer and send it to her. I couldn’t let it go, but I couldn’t also keep her time. She stayed with me. For one and a half hours I searched…tried…failed… lather…rinse…repeat…ad nauseum.
Finally, after the 1.5 hours had passed and embarrassment had long turned to wrenching humiliation, I turned to Classroom 2.0 (or Twitter, I don’t remember which). I humbly asked her question there.
15 minutes later I had 5 answers, all of which were different, all of which worked.
At that point, I realized that I didn’t have the time to NOT use Twitter. To not invest in the learning networks. Trying to learn things on my own simply took way too much time. I needed the power of the network.
My students needed me to have the power of the network.
I dove in, learned how to ask great questions and how to give quality and timely feedback, and have never looked back.
If you ever have any questions about Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, or any of the social networking tools that educators use to connect, share, and learn, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’ve invested nearly 6 years of my life learning and making the hard mistakes so others don’t have to.