This post has been brewing my mind since attending my past few educational conferences, so let me get right to the point.
I will preface what I am about to express by stating that I am an enormous believer in the principal of connectivity. I would not be close to the educator I am today if I was not connecting with more talented and skillful educators than myself around the world. My pedagogical ideas are pushed and challenged, and it consistently keeps my on my toes. At this point, I just can’t see how educators are not connected. It’s a non negotiable for our own professional growth, as well as our students. I am well aware of the hurdles and challenges with those who are less tech savvy or have a fixed mindset, but it’s time to more on from excuses and fear into embracing tools that can reignite your career and passion for what you do to help kids become successful. The amount of sharing and collaboration is unprecedented and will only benefit our students.
With that being said, I’m concerned the human element of interacting face to face with others is missing. Too many times, I see people roaming through the hallways, heads down and immersed in their devices. Am I part of that as well? Absolutely, 100% yes. There is most certainly a time and place to be utilizing Twitter. That’s part of the power of the tool. However, sometimes the constant attention to our Twitter feeds or other social media tools can create missed opportunities to collaborate face to face. In the spirit of full disclosure, this is what I noticed at ISTE in Philadelphia. I could be speaking to someone and their attention would be partially on me and partially on their device. This happened multiple times to me, as well as some colleagues from my district. That lead to a conversation about the high touch humanistic approach that seemed to be fleeting. How can we create a shift?
While I am extremely outgoing and can strike up a conversation with anyone, I still feel challenged when speaking to fellow educators. I have doubts about my opinions or thoughts, and often question what I am saying. But that’s part of pushing yourself. Don’t be afraid to share ideas and strategies that are effective with others. At best, they may challenge your idea and push you to think in different ways, which is always a good thing. The risk is worth it. It’s all part of having a growth mindset, operating under the premise that you can FAIL, reflect, and grow.
Before phones. Before social media. We interacted by conversing. Let’s not lose that! Having the ability to have those face to face conversations should not become a lost art form. Sure, relationships and connections can start on Twitter, but it’s important to not neglect the importance of putting your device away and focusing on conversations and being present in the moment. The same goes for presenters. Of course, you should utilize tools like Today’s Meet, Google Docs, or Padlet to back-channel, but allow time for participants to interact with one another.
I often find, especially at Edcamps, that the interactions I have with educators in the hallway at or in between sessions, sitting on the grass outside, or enjoying lunch together, are the most powerful and profound. I try to hold that premise with me when I travel to attend or speak at conferences. At that point, we exchange social media contact information to continue to grow collaboratively. It would clearly be a missed opportunity if I was immersed with my device. While I would never change how I grow professionally using Twitter or social media, it’s essential to remember the high tech/high touch approach to learning and growing professionally.
So next time you’re at a conference, try it. Put your device down and find the balance. Sit with someone you don’t know. Ask them about their classroom and what’s effective and what strategies they employ. The results might surprise you.
I am a passionate teacher in Stamford, CT. I teach fifth grade ELA/Social Studies. I am proud to be an active member of the Twitter educational community. I am an organizer for #EdCampSWCT, a moderator for #ctedu, technology professional develop leader in my district, and a believer in a high tech/high touch blended learning approach to teaching. I am nominated for the Bammy of 2015 Elementary School Teacher of the Year. I am a certified administrator. I believe in taking risks and working collaboratively to augment student achievement. I love children’s literature and strive to become better everyday. I am a husband and father. Follow me on Twitter @mrsapia_teach