We Become what we think about all day long.....Ralph Waldo Emerson
How it All Started:
My journey into the social media world all started back in November of 2010. In my first year as an administrator I was off to an Assistant Principal's conference to network and learn about discipline, bullying and tasks associated with the job. What I did not realize is that I would leave with something different, something much more powerful for my professional growth....the key to the social media world.
Principal Patrick Larkin @bhsprincipal was the keynote speaker who opened his presentation by stating "please turn ON your cell phones and electronic devices!" I think we are all used to hearing the exact opposite, so I was immediately impressed. Patrick spoke with passion and enthusiasm about how social media could enhance your PLN "Personal Learning Network," communication with students, parents, community & colleagues and provide you with unlimited Professional Development opportunities. I was inspired!
From 0 to 100 MPH
Twitter: Two days later I dove in and joined Twitter! My wife and two children (14 & 12) laughed at me. Because, like many people out there, they thought twitter was all about stalking what some celebrity had for lunch. Let me be the first to tell you: it can, should be, and is, so much more! I slowly connected with other educators, administrators and passionate professionals. I access thousands of professional journals, blogs and insightful writings daily. I also learn about amazing things going on that I would have never known otherwise. For example, I learned of the new PD phenomenon sweeping the country "unconferences," which are participant driven conferences free of charge & completely voluntary! Through twitter I signed up for an unconference (#Edcamp Boston) and attended the most amazing professional development of my career. I also met several of my twitter PLN in person. Twitter has also allowed me to connect with educators from all over the world including; Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Barcelona, Malaysia, Pakistan, Oman, Indonesia, Turkey, Finland, Australia, Germany and New Zealand. When was the last time you were able to tap into that type of World knowledge base at a typical conference? On Twitter you can converse daily.
Diigo & Dropbox: While on twitter I began to read about the various web 2.0 tools and how they could help me organize & compartmentalize my work. Ever save work on your zip drive at school, only to come home to complete it and you forgot your zip drive? Yes, how annoying. I found Dropbox as a web based space where I could save work from home or at school and access it from any computer at anytime- how cool!!!! Then I began to see people tweet about the power of diigo, so I investigated. Through the assistance of my PLN I learned how to use it. Although I am only scratching the surface, I use Diigo to copy web articles of importance to me, take notes on them, and highlight important points. Then when I have time I access Diigo.com from any computer and read the articles I saved- what great PD!!!! This summer I plan to sit by the pool reading all the great articles I was able to save on Diigo.
Book Club: A recent benefit of twitter and my online PLN is access to high powered and passionate educators in a virtual book club. Thanks to Justin Tarte @justintarte, I volunteered to be part of a group who will read Mike Schmoker's book FOCUS and discuss it online beginning in July. Accessing professionals from all over the country and world is something that never could've happened without joining twitter!
Blogging: As educators it's important that we sharpen our skills at writing, by putting our thoughts to paper (or web). Exposure to the social media world enabled me to read hundreds of outstanding blog posts by educational professionals from all over the world. What a great concept-communicate your thoughts and passions to thousands of people, while sharpening your writing skills as a professional: Blogging!
Summary: I am by no means a tech savvy person, just a man who was fortunate enough to be shown, and take advantage of, the power of social media. My hope is that other educators, including administrators read this blog post and are inspired to embrace social media. Technology is a major 21st century skill that we expect our students to have; it can only be modeled by us as their leaders- start today!!!