Heading into my time at TCEA, I knew that I was looking forward to a session called “Show How Awesome You Are and Tell Your Story with Social Media.” It seemed right up my alley. Though I feel confident in my ability to start that task and manage it well right now, this is area where I’m always looking to improve. As if the topic weren’t enough of a draw, Steven Anderson (@web20classroom) was scheduled to present and Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby) joined him.
With such a high interest topic being presented by two educators who wrote the book on the topic (literally), my nerdy educator heart was so excited to hear from them!
They delivered in a big way, but not for the reasons I expected.
As I’m getting ready to receive the knowledge, Anderson turned off the screen behind him and told us that he wasn’t going to give a presentation.
Instead, we were going to have a conversation.
WHY CONVERSATIONS MATTER
It was so validating to hear someone who is an undisputed expert in his field say that there was such great value in learning together through conversations. Think about what that statement is saying.
- It orients leaders so that they are learners alongside everyone else participating.
- It reminds us that learning can be messy and still be successful.
- It reiterates that we don’t have to have everything perfectly laid out to push our learning forward.
- It values the people with whom we connect (and makes us dependent on one another to truly move the conversation forward).
It’s such a simple idea, but it’s also pretty revolutionary.
Our ability to change how we learn is deeply tied to our ability to help other learners change their norms. If we want change for our students, if we want to challenge our teachers to do something different, if we want to do something different–we have to be willing to start making shifts like this.
CHANGE THAT IS WORTH IT
The more I thought about it, the more I remembered that that’s what I’m doing when I use social media to grow as an educator. Though I’m quite comfortable learning in that style on Twitter, I still expect to be talked at for much of my face to face professional learning.
The reality is that we all have something valuable to add in many of the conversations that are one way in education today. We cannot fail to consider a model that would open us up to hear from those around us. As Steven Anderson put it, “You may be sitting next to the smartest person you don’t know.” Ask him or her to share.
It’s worth mentioning that I’m not advocating for an across the board move to this model. I saw some of the best educational presentations from incredible educators who left me with so much to consider and rethink as I head back to reality. But the conversations I experienced show another way that we have to consider, and I’m motivated to empower others through similar experiences.