Yes social media has done wonders for my teaching practice but so have the face to face conversations I've had with colleagues, especially colleagues whom I have worked with in the past where we no longer teach in the same building. I'm a little bit intense, not all my former colleagues like to reminisce about what it was like to work with me, and if the conversation doesn't lead to teaching practice that's ok too, you need know your audience. I also talk to friends/acquaintances who are teachers and somehow the conversation leads us to our jobs. For example:
- My neighbour, going back to work full-time with three very little ones at home, excited to talk to me about what social media she could do with her FDKs next year, what would the parents want? What would her purpose be?
- Another busy neighbour, also a mom to little ones, thinking about starting blended learning with her high school students and perhaps something like remind for parent communication, but she's told me we will talk about it late August, she's not ready yet. Although if my iPad had loaded a bit quicker I think she would've politely looked at all the apps I had to show her...
- A car ride to a 40th birthday party in Niagara Falls, where two of us decided to forego the party bus, so we could "talk shop" and I loved listening to her tell me about how Genius Hour was working with her grade 5s.
- Visiting a former teaching partner on maternity leave, and somehow getting to the topic of how she was involved in a primary inquiry project and she can't wait to try innovative strategies when she goes back to work. Just this week, we had another conversation about how a small school is probably why I was able to just "run with things" as there wasn't so much pressure (from parents/admin/colleagues) to do what the other four teaching partners were doing. I really hope she's able to find support for what she wants to try.
- Being at a board showcase/presentation last winter, just before Christmas break, on the verge of thinking that my intermediates were perhaps too old for inquiry, when a Curriculum Consultant, my very first itinerant teacher, took out a paper copy of the Science curriculum and told me not to stress about all the content as she showed me two thirds of the curriculum is the same every year. That's all I needed to just put expectations in front of that group of students and see where it went from there. I will be performing a similar exercise for parents, I just have to find my paper copies of the curriculum.
- Family members who are retired teachers, some long retired some just retired, I always wait for them to bring up the topic. But a few weeks ago, I was telling one of them about the inquiry based FDK and she says, oh they're going back to that and went on to describe how she was taught that method in teacher's college. Forever the teacher, she's constantly working with my girls on their letters or their reading.
Even though I know people get tired of my shop talk, yes you would rather talk to me about your baby/kids/spouse/news/sports. That's ok. I also love listening, I like asking questions and finding out about people's passions. But, if you've been thinking about talking to me about your teaching practice, open up the flood gates! I love having those conversations, in whatever venue is possible.
On twitter, I'm a self-proclaimed teacher on a mission to become a better educator #bignerd and #proudofit. Even though I haven't taken a course in seven years, I haven't stopped learning. Social media has been a huge instrument in that for me. Thank you to those who continue to engage in that professional dialogue with me.