0152: There’s Power in the Blog: How #socialmedia is improving my practice #SOSchat @coopcatalyst #education

Originally posted at http://coopcatalyst.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/

I’m sure this topic has been explored to some extent, but I’d like to add my perspective. I’ll attempt to work towards a concise explanation, but I surely won’t arrive there on the first attempt. I’ve digressed before beginning.

Beginning. My initial purpose for beginning my blog, educatedtodeath.com, was simply as a means of maintaining sanity and hopefully to reroute some developing cynicism. As many teachers are, I was isolated, exhausted, and becoming disheartened. My classroom was going the way of my dwindling spirit. I started to blog. Very quickly writing required reflection and a thrust back to some theory. I started reading with regard to my practice again— something that is easy to do after leaving academia. Quickly my writing evolved or evolved me into a more honest person. Not necessarily in word, but in deed. All I was doing was putting my thoughts down— and publishing them. I’ve journaled quite a bit about my practice in the past, but have fallen out of practice either because of contracted technical or academic writing. Writing that was to be seen was very purposed and directed by a force outside of myself. This writing was beneficial to me, but not on a terribly personal level. But again, I digress. So first, the blog has forced me to take my personal experiences, thoughts, rantings, idiosyncratic thinking, and so forth and put them on paper (a seemingly anachronistic and abstract word now)— oh yes, and make those thoughts public.

That’s the kicker. The making it public part. That’s where I have found the most benefit. It’s the community. Social media has become, for me, a professional learning community (That should be stating the obvious, by the way, but it is not universally obvious to those who don’t, for whatever reason, participate). Participation in this learning community has taught me more about my practice and myself than formal institutions or private reading has. I have access to quality professional development, that is free, experts, and the understanding that my expertise as a teacher is also valuable to others. It is quite empowering to be able to informally and semi-formally interact with colleagues in a way that lends itself to collaborative problem solving on an often global scale. Participating in social media has provided me with a sense of community. With that sense of community also comes a new awareness.

The new awareness/es are many. First, with the awareness that what I am writing is being read and taken to heart by others adds a level of responsibility, just like speaking to a group does. I am responsible by choice for providing my readers/partners with pieces that are at least thought provoking, informative, and at best transforming. I don’t, however, think I should attempt to be clever, careful, or overly responsible. I have tried, and am trying to chart my growth by writing or attempting to write what is truthful to me in that moment. I try to save heavy editing for higher stakes writing. This allows for risk-taking.

I think risk-taking in this setting is important because it allows my input and understanding to be accepted, denied, or transformed by the community. The community appears to function as a collective consciousness that is constantly morphing. The power is democratic and dialectic for the most part. Ideas that are accepted are amplified, others are shot down, and others still become points of contention that can produce an even greater learning experience for involved parties.

So in the cloud above, I have submitted some ideas that will be viewed, and supported, dismissed, augmented, diminished, etc., etc. Either way, My experience has been incredibly fruitful. Help me understand it more.

Addendum: I didn’t manage to discuss twitter participation. It has affected me in a similar, but different way than blogging. Tweeting, especially in chats, has been tremendously beneficial. It’s nice to have near real time communication. I’m steadily learning more about its uses as a political, social, activism, grassroots, professional tool. I’ll write more, and do share.