why [i] post?

I gotta hand it to Andrew Campbell he got in my head. So did Derek Rhodenizer and Mark Carbone. A few weeks ago I sat with a gathering of fascinating edu-individuals that were among other things looking at future school through a social media lens.

There was a lot to chat about teachers building brands and whether edu-entrepreneurs had credibility if they were no longer connected to a classroom. Somehow the group honed in on the bits that Andrew was sewing together about superstar teachers and disconnectedness and keeping our feet on the ground as we soar through social media.

Several edu-highfliers were scrutinized for maybe not being authentic or honest in their blatant marketing attempts.

So now I feel like I gotta work through this.

Am I interested in building a brand?

If not, why do I reflect in public and post out to a PLN?

If so, how does my PLN perceive me and my posts?

to be continued…IMG_6860.JPG

open sourced v2

I keep a stack of post-its on my night table. What teacher doesn’t… right?

Often, I will get ideas in the middle of the night that rattle me out of sleep. The ideas sometimes are so random in nature that when I look at the scratches with my full attention the next day, there still is no way to interpret their meaning — the moment of inspiration passed, the dream faded. There has even been once or twice when my imagination came back to an idea over several evenings. Usually, then and only then do the small yellow squares with obscure scribbles and words form a clear enough picture of my sleepy intentions to do something cool with them.

I have tried to focus in those twilighty sessions, but that ultimately leads to being fully awake — and when an idea gets a hold of me at 2:00 AM, guaranteed I am not getting a decent night’s rest. So in the end, scribbles, a shape, or a vague word is what I go on.

The other day I looked at a note from the night before and could not make sense of it right away. Somewhere between taking the dog out and my second cup of coffee the letters made sense, kind of. The IQ, and b lead me to Inquiry Based … learning, well I assumed learning and went with it. It was still problematic though, connecting letters to ideas was easy, what I was thinking when I wrote it, was messing with my mind.

Mornings are pretty busy during the week and staying on track with routines is a priority, but I also knew that IQb was not going to unlock itself. So, I chose 5 members of my PLN and posted out, looking for ideas, resources, and direction. These tweeps are all rockstars in their own right, but collectively I knew that something cool would happen by reaching out to them. Within several minutes Rolland Chidiac jumped in. Soon after Jen GiffenWill Gourley, and Derrick Schellenberg threw in their supports. Not only did they share but they riffed off of my questions and added their own spins to it. Definitely a masterclass here.

My constant curiosity has connected me with hundreds of people that I do not physically encounter in my daily stompings. Connecting to them, through Twitter and Voxer in the digi-hallways has become so ingrained in my day that as soon as my iPhone falls below 30% I get a bit nervous. Professional development and FOMO compels me to keep my devices close and my contact list active. My sometimes-almost-hourly inquiries have become the greatest asset to my learning. This is mostly due to the fact that when I learn, I move very quickly from curiosity to trajectory, to people-connecting, to interacting, and then reflecting and writing. Along the way, I set reminders and timers for follow up. All of this is made possible with my current edtech toolkit and PLN.

…online collaboration that is “sustained over time and supported by specialists results in improvements in teachers’ attitudes and beliefs, teaching strategies used…and students’ attitudes and behaviour, and students’ achievement.”[6] Max Cooke of CEA

Since hearing George Couros’ talk at #yrdsbQUEST back in 2015, where he convinced me that everyone should have a digital learning portfolio and PLN, I have ardently pursued and posted my process. The iterations have flowed from personal paper journal, to Twitter, to public blog, and now a podcast. The shift is necessary. Our board has been moving into this modern learning frame intentionally over the last few years. And the cool thing about my PLN…it constantly and positively reminds me of the questions that I have yet to ask and it constantly and positively reminds me of the human elements necessary to learn socially.

Constant connectivity creates a really cool opportunity to change how we speak about modern learning. This dialogue it will require new words, phrases, and possibly new value systems to accredit the learning that now is at the fingertips of every teacher and student. I have been swept up in the TED Radio Hour Podcast and found an inspirational and aspirational episode on open-source sharing. As I deconstruct and reformat my fundamental understandings of modern learning, I move further into a zone where education is no longer about what you know, or even where you learned it. Instead, in our experience of learning we should be questioning:

What is my relationship to what I know? What is my relationship to the person I learned from?

What could/should I do with what I know? [or can’t because I don’t]? What is my obligation to act with the knowledge I possess?

Where will I openly share my experiences? Can I be comfortable being the ‘only’ sharer?

What have I learned from the process, about the process, to add to a new process next time?

lurk, like, link, lead

This is mindblowing.

Sometime in September-ish, I heard a podcast by Roland Chidiac, and he was talking with a guy named Stephen Hurley. Stephen spoke of his work in Peel Region, his connections to music, and ended with a mention of the CEA. At that moment, a few little dots connected- me to Rolland in Waterloo region, Rolland to Stephen in Toronto, and back to me in York Region. A strange triangular sensibility bubbled up, and I suddenly and overwhelmingly felt the electricity of my learning network. Initially, I was not entirely clear why my brain brought me to attention, but there was something auspicious about Stephen’s connectivity, and beyond a growing appreciation of Rolland’s digiPLN, I still could not put my finger on what signal I was receiving.

Up to that point, I can admit that my pursuit of professional learning had been slightly stilted. In short, I lurked more than I lead. I think I sat in the exact seat that many educators do, asking myself what am I going to do with the knowledge that my personal, professional learning affords me. And why should I do something with my learning? So, I started to consider how to engage at a deeper level.

What caught and held my attention was Stephen’s mention of a plan for the regional exchanges for educators to meet-greet-and-chat cross-Canada. My pedagogical stomping ground to this point was primarily locavore in nature. All of the conversations that I had ever had about the ebb and flow of education were paddocked in York Region. I checked out the CEA site, convinced myself that I had something to say, found the regional exchange offer, drafted out a proposal form to attend and interesting things started to happen. From the moment that I received the RSVP from Stephen to attend the regional exchange, I dove into lurker mode to find out more about the other attendees. Funny thing, a large number of my current digiPLN were also on the invitee list.

Confession. My cross-border shopping for professional learning has always felt a bit shameful, almost affair-like, in that, I had been sneaking away from the comfort of my region for some time. I spoke with Rolland about this passion for another learner with hushed tones when we hung out at the Toronto regional exchange. Both of us craved the connection and resources and support of a PLN that ranged wider than our home regions. And that’s when it hit me. The reason Stephen’s offer got rooted for me was that despite the coolness of connecting with educators nationwide, the real message in the signal was that I needed to start leading these connections in some way. Rolland linked me to his PLN, Stephen and the CEA became the catalyst for new directions in my PLN, and I opened myself up to new possibilities.

Many cool projects and connections have emerged post-podcast. I have connected with an amazing array of educators around Ontario. My professional blog has evolved into a portfolio of work that includes reflections, artifacts, and new media. A digi-colleague Derek Rhodenizer and I have co-created #onedmentors as a conversation and connection space in Twitter where pre-service and in-service teachers can exchange ideas. And finally [for now] I pants-kicked myself into starting my podcast, Chasing Squirrels that focusses on the impact of changes in education. My bravery did not evolve in isolation. I owe a ton of thanks to Rolland Chidiac and Derek Rhodenizer and Jen Giffen for their unabashed support of my ‘what if’ lists.

And Stephen Hurley, well he is a catalyst. He’s got that rare superpower that builds superpowers in the people around him. Yet in doing so, the challenge still remains to use the powers for something good. Through all of the tutelage of my PLN I have come to believe in my own agency and to embrace opportunity fully.