Rise Up Gather Round
As more and more educators discover the value of Twitter professionally, it can sometimes seem like an echo chamber, as my #4OCF Voxer group discussed during our book study of The Four O’Clock Faculty: A Rogue Guide to Revolutionizing Professional Development. And since we’re being honest here, we can also admit that the glory of retweets and the race to collect followers can also draw us away from the original beauty of Twitter. That beauty, my friends, is what keeps me going.
Rock This Place to the Ground
I have been in education a long time. Long enough to have the privilege of teaching the children of my high school classmates. I’m not yet to the point of teaching their grandchildren, but you get the picture. I’ve taught in two states and five districts. I have attended national and state professional development conferences. It shames me to admit this, but I have also gone through a period of time in my teaching where I did zero professional development beyond what the district provided. ZERO. Been there. Done that. My thinking at the time was, there are plenty other teachers who need to use the allotted professional development money. I’ve got this, so let them attend the conferences and trainings. However, that is a very dangerous way of thinking, and I’m so glad that I found my way out of it. I walked…no, ran towards the light. Twitter. Go figure.
Burn It Up, Let’s Go for Broke
Like Aaron Hogan says, it is the people you meet on Twitter who can change your life, not Twitter itself. Here’s my take on that. My recent post about the Cool Kids Club has a lot of truth there worth exploring. And like Matt Miller said in that post, it happens on Twitter too. The point is, all of us who put ourselves out there and interact with others on Twitter will eventually find those we think like and share common interests with, and that’s our own Cool Club. For me, I need educators who will push me to go past my boundaries. For example, I might be the only one in my building who creates #BookSnaps to reflect what I’m reading, but my professional learning network (thanks for creating #BookSnaps in the first place, Tara M. Martin!) on Twitter is full of teachers who can and do create them, find new ways to use them, and then push me to step up my game. Their creativity pushes my creativity to stretch, lift, curl, hold, and release to do it all over again. Creativity that is allowed to sit in a stagnant environment will eventually lose all tone and strength. Sure, you may think you are creative in your building, but you aren’t strengthening that muscle. It will stay the same or begin to weaken without the hard work, reps, blood, sweat, and tears required to continually create and grow.
Watch the Night Go Up in Smoke
My current read, The Wild Card: 7 Steps to an Educator’s Creative Breakthrough by Hope and Wade King, for the #OrEdChat (Oregon Ed Chat) book study on Sunday nights, has confirmed my opinion here. My type of creativity may differ from the teacher two doors down, or in a different building, or even in my school’s conference. That isn’t the point. We all have our own niche of creativity we can bring to the classroom. Twitter opens the floodgates for finding those teachers who share the same passions and creative outlets you do. Creativity doesn’t come easy for me, though many will argue that point with me and have. But like Dave Burgess points out in Teach Like A Pirate, everyone has to work at it. Those of us deemed as creative may have great ideas, but the amount of work we do to make those ideas into a reality is not easy. It. Is. Work.
Rock of Ages, Rock of Ages
Giving my students my best self requires me to use my creative muscle. To do that, I must seek out and find buddies to workout with daily. While I can go it alone, I push myself harder and go farther when I’m challenged, supported, and encouraged by others. Teamwork. It matters, and Twitter has all the teammates I need, from all over the world, waiting to for me to join and get to work with them.
Still Rollin’, Keep a-Rollin’
I have a creative drive that pushes me every minute. I am constantly looking for ways to do better and be better. That isn’t a competition, though I am highly competitive. It is what is necessary for me to bring my best to the plate each time I go to bat in the classroom. I can’t just settle into the batter’s box, plant my feet, and wait to take a walk or get hit by the pitch. Nope. Not how I work. Not how many of us work. I am quick to realize those times that I’m guilty of that, because it has happened. It does happen. This is where grit comes into play. I dust myself off and get back into the game. Strikeouts happen, but I will not go down standing there watching the ball. No. I will track the ball and follow it all the way in. As I track the ball, I relax my grip, load up, rock, and swing.