Sigh. I pursue my next pedagogical iteration with gusto, every day.
Modern Learning? I’m in! Connected with a Twitter PLN? Fershur. Teacher Blog? TEDEd…bring it on! EdTech presentation? Build a digital PLN? Here you go! U betcha! There is something thrilling in seeking out new edtech convos, strategies, and mentors. Finding a new way to play at work has always been a motivator for me. And over the last ten years, I have noticed the shift in education where it finally seems like this approach has become acceptable. The ‘play’ is couched in ‘Co’ pronouns like co-plan and co-learn, but the essence to explore collectively is a breath of fresh air.
The thought of pursuing learning solely from my own stomping grounds kinda brings me down.
Historically, I frequently travel beyond my region, landing south of the border, schooling myself on the abundance of connected educators I find there. Google is repped by Alice Keeler, Global Citizenship, you gotta visit Paul Solarz. You want to escape textbook drudgery, check out Matt Miller. The open offer from each of their classrooms and contexts has changed me, permanently. Carol Salva in her conversation with Rolland Chidiac on Rolland Chidiac Connects mentioned that she felt bad for people who have never experienced a digital PLN, specifically on Twitter. She went on to declare that she could never go back to her former, non-connected self. And I thought, me too!
…but am I creating at the same rate that I consume?
Then I got to thinking about the weight of my edu-collectables. The truth with all digital media is that the ease of storage belies a metric of time to acquire and energy to organize. And when I engage in some self-reflective and minimalistic analysis I inevitably come to the conclusion that I am overconsuming at the digi-buffet. And, ironically, looking forward to the next thing might be keeping me from developing what is in front of me.
Does more data help, ACTUALLY?
I try to pay attention to everything that my job throws at me. And when I go to autopilot on my drive for knowledge I tend to assume that all of it is crucial. I am the guy who sits in the front row, takes notes, backchannels, side channels, reviews, posts/reposts, asks questions, and remembers. This, I have come to accept, is curation and not a creation at all. In the end, with my time spent, I often have not tested the information, created a thing, or returned to the convo with a new thought. But I have done a heck of a lot of thinking about thinking. I guess my gut check is now telling me to keep my aware of both my reach and grasp.
If I narrow my bandwidth, focus my attention, and reduce the number of digi-iniatives … am I still doing my job?
When learning does not result in doing, something is out of balance. And when the synergy between learning and doing starts to break down, learning communities close doors to creativity. For now, I am making sure that in each moment where I am pursuing a new frontier, I ask myself five questions:
- Is there something else that needs my attention?
- Is this making me happy?
- Is this improving my communication?
- Am I creating deeper connectivity?
- Am I saving time?
- Is all of your learning resulting in some type of doing? Are you also iterating and testing, often?
- When engaged in creating are you doing so in a community? Are the participants dissonant enough to provide essential feedback?
- Does the feedback create reflective loops and opportunities for scalability? Teacher learning should contribute to student learning and vice versa.