How have you contributed to the learning of others?
It’s hard to believe that a few short months ago my ECMP 355 class met for our first online class, using Zoom. This video application that was relatively new to me. The first class was a basic overview of what the class would be about, what tools we were expected to use to help grow our PLN, and we even participated in a “mock” class chat on Twitter using the #ecmpchat.
The idea of a Twitter chat was not new to me. During internship I had my class participate in a #myclasschat led by Miss Smith’s internship class at Pilot Butte. However, before beginning ECMP 355, my participation in these types of chats have been limited and few and far between. I was wondering why this was the case and I think the reason was my own self-doubt. I did not credit myself enough to actively engage in these chats. However, I have learned that this isn’t the case at all. I have learned that Twitter chats are relatively safe spaces to share ideas, listen to others, and critically think about important concepts in a collaborative manner. One regret I have is not having the chance to participate in a #saskedchat. These chats take place on Thursday nights. The problem is that I had volleyball this semester on Thursday nights during the time these chats took place. However, I did get the opportunity to participate in Twitter chats that S.T.A.R.S (Student Teachers Anti-Racist/Anti-Oppressive Society) faciliated. Take a look below at an example of the #STARSchat where I engage with my friend and colleague, Meagan Dobson on the importance of creating an inclusive classroom, but the reality of feeling unprepared.
The first time I remember creating a Twitter account for the purpose of expanding my PLN was in my second year of university for an education class. If I am being honest, I rarely utilized this account. The only time I engaged with Twitter was when I was prompted to do so by my professor. Skip ahead one year and I found that I was beginning to see the benefits of Twitter during my pre-internship year. Although at this time I was not interacting to the extent that I had hoped on Twitter, I was able to learn from other educators using Twitter, interact with my colleagues, and use my account as a platform to share the work I was doing in my pre-internship. Now, as I am finishing up my final year of my education degree, I can see that ECMP 355 has encouraged me to be an active member of Twitter. Certainly I can continue to work on expanding my PLN through the means of Twitter. I would argue that every educator should have this same goal whether you have a network of five or five hundred. The moment we stop working on our PLN is the moment we stop growing and learning as educators. As a result we become stale for lack of a better word. However, as I mentioned above, this class has allowed me to grow my PLN through Twitter by contributing not only to others in ECMP 355 and ECMP 455, but also by contributing to learning networks outside of this class. Take a look below at a summary of some of the times I was able to contribute to the learning and growth of others. It might be something as simple as a re-tweet, sharing an article, or responding to questions, blog posts, etc.
The other two areas where we were encouraged to contribute to our online community of learning were through blogging and Google Plus. I was a lot more active on blogging than I was on the Google Plus community. I struggled with this at the beginning of the course because I felt I was neglecting my responsibility to engage on Google Plus. This is not to say that I never used Google Plus. I used the Google Plus community to respond to classmate’s questions or prompts. Here is an example of me responding to Shaylane on a video she posted to the Google Plus community.
However, my choice to engage more with my blog and the blogs of my classmates was a personal choice as much as it was a growing experience. In my first blog in ECMP 355, Why Blog? I shared my personal feelings with my own discomfort of blogging.
“To be completely honest, blogging is not something that comes natural for me. At times I find it uncomfortable to share my experiences with others on the Internet. I am not one who posts or shares a lot on social media. I am the type of person that would rather sit and have a cup of coffee with a friend to hear about their latest adventure or simply catch up as opposed to read it off the screen. Therefore, I was a little skeptical of having to fire up my blog again for ECMP 355.”
I will admit that through ECMP 355, blogging is something I started to look forward to on a weekly basis. It became a time when I could sit down and disconnect myself from everything else going on in my life and reflect on something that was meaningful, authentic, and important. I thought less about what people might critique about my posts, and more about my personal feelings, emotions, connections; it became an outlet for me to speak in a relatively safe space, and a space where I could begin to unpack some significant issues alongside my classmates. When I look back, some blog posts that I wrote that really mean a lot to me personally include the following.
The topics of my posts, whether chosen or given a prompt, to blog about allowed me to think critically. I always appreciated seeing when people commented on my blog. It means a lot to know someone is taking the time to read something you have put a lot of thought into. Trust me, my blog posts were never something that were whipped together. Although ideally that would have saved a lot of time, I always found I was reconstructing, editing, revising, and removing things from my posts before publishing. Even when I did hit publish, I was never one hundred percent satisfied. However, I was able to take a lot away from the comments on my blog and I always made an effort to respond to those that took the time to leave a reply. Below are a few interactions that took place on my blog.
For me, reading other blog posts of classmates was equally important as writing my own. It is amazing to think that a group of pre-service teachers, soon to be entering the workforce, are blogging about such meaningful and critical issues. The fact these conversations are happening is an important step. Blogging is more than just writing a post and closing the laptop. Blogging involves being an actively engaged and valued member of an online community. By reading other posts, commenting, and interacting with others in the class, I was able to challenge my own ways of thinking, learn new perspectives, and expand my knowledge. Although I was diligent in reading and writing on numerous blog posts throughout the semester, I found that there were a few individuals in the class that became very valuable members of my PLN.
Gillian’s posts always inspired me to think beyond the issue with a deeper lens. Sometimes her posts challenged my ways of thinking. Throughout the semester, I noticed my blogs were often influenced by her thoughts, or adversely, I often found myself reading her posts after writing mine and realizing there was so much I did not consider.
Larissa’s blog and comments always reassured me that I was writing posts that were somewhat worthy of reading. I found comfort in reading her posts and was able to relate to a lot of the things she was writing about.
Andrew’s post were deeply layered with critical thinking, humour, and maybe most important of all, the duel perspective of teacher and father. He allowed me to view concepts with a double lens, one of which I was not able to provide for myself as I have no experience being a parent.
Lastly, Ashton’s blog had a sense of easiness to them. She was able to write in a way that spoke directly to her intent behind the post. I especially appreciated her learning project posts because they gave me a sense of direction in my own project.
It is a shock to me, but I found a sense of place commenting and interacting with other blogs. By that, I mean that blogging created a unique network, where I felt comfortable taking part in valuable dialogue with others. Below is a couple more examples of interactions I made in order to help contribute to the learning of others and myself.
As I sit here reflecting on my work in this class and consider how I have come to appreciate the art of blogging I cannot help but laugh. Thinking back to the beginning of this course, we discussed what makes a good blog post. We talked about creating a catchy title, sharing personal insight, and not making posts too lengthy. Ironically enough, this final blog post for ECMP 355 does not fit all the criteria. But as ironic as it may be, it is not the length of this final blog post that I want to emphasize. Instead I want to focus on my accomplishments. I think this post speaks for itself. This class, the platform given to create weekly blogs, and the contributions I made to the learning of others gave me the encouragement I needed to begin to create an online space to expand my digital identity as I move forward and continue to grow my PLN as an educator.
Here is a brief summary log of my PLN interactions.
Cheers ECMP 355.