If I didn’t happen to glance at the number of tweets I had earlier today, I would probably have spent my ten thousandth tweet with a smiley face @ reply, or a subpar picture of my dinner, or a poorly phrased question set adrift into the ether. Instead, I will use this tweet as a moment of reflection – and more precisely as an excuse to develop in long(er) form some things I have been thinking about recently that are peripherally tied to this less than momentous occasion.
I’ve spent a lot of time off the grid this summer, in fact, this has been the least active few months of my entire social media existence (except for that first year when I was one of those people who signed up for twitter, tweeted twice, and gave up). It has given me time to ponder the kind of impact my feeble attempts at being a connected educator have had on me both personally and professionally. I have been around long enough to see numerous variations of the question “does being connected make you a better educator?”
A year and a half ago Two years ago I would have jumped on the YES bandwagon with a PLN Posse t-shirt, a funnel, and a gallon of kool-aid. Don’t ask, just drink – and don’t think about what you’re drinking if it tastes good. I mean, sure, at first I was excited to sit and collect resources and things to read later (as evidenced by my obscene amount of favorited tweets, which I have never actually gone back to look at), and my heart skipped a beat every time I got an @ reply – which was not often. Sure, as time moved forward I began to look at the things in my stream more critically. I quickly stopped referring to the people I am connected with as my PLN and I shied away from all things #chat. Although I appreciate all of the pioneers of #sschat, and I was there at the very start, I just don’t find myself participating at all anymore (I’ve never really felt the love for #edchat, truth be told). Ultimately, I have met some very cool people with whom I enjoy sharing stories and anecdotes with. I’m suppressing the urge to name drop here, as it goes against a pillar of my twitter beliefs – which is that #FF and anything that asks you to name the two people you most want to meet in your network, is simply a public popularity show. What good do these really do, honestly? I’m open to pushback on this point. If you can change my mind, you’ll get my first ever #FF recommendation.
Ranting aside, it boils down to this: am I a better teacher now because of my connectedness? I don’t think I am. I don’t think I am a worse teacher, either. I think I’m a stuck teacher. I’m frozen. I am inundated with ideas and anecdotes and such – some of which I want to employ, but I can never seem to bring myself to do it. I’ve certainly made some inconsequential changes here and there, but ultimately I’ve never really done the overhaul I need to. That isn’t anyone’s fault but my own. I admit that I wouldn’t even know I needed to change things if it weren’t for being connected with other educators – but simply being connected has not forced me to act. Maybe I’ll have done that by 20,000.