Tech, Teaching and Me

Trying to turn off my brain by writing it down

Talking to (Strangers) Education Professionals I Don’t Know

on December 10, 2012

Last month I participated in a Professional Learning Practice  webinar and Wil Richardson encouraged us all to talk to “strangers” online. I realized the wording was intentionally thought provoking. It created a buzz throughout the digital room (even titling this post “Talking to Strangers” made me uncomfortable). I have enjoyed the thoughts and discussions these words have produced. Since the webinar, I have not stopped thinking about interactions I have in my life with other education professionals I have never met face to face.

These strangers have enhanced my personal and professional life. Here are a few ways I have interacted in the last few weeks with people I have never met face to face:

-I found a fabulous Elf yourself template through a teacher I follow on Pinterest and I used it to create the cutest 1st grade Elves.

-I created contacts with teachers to form a wonderful quadblogging lesson for my 8th grade Language Arts teacher. I watch in amazement as teachers connect and student writing improves.

-I read the most amazing, honest and vulnerable student blog shared with me through a Twitter contact.

-I laughed at the Monk/Tech support video shared through Powerful Learning Practice.

-I sat in awe as I watched Sheryl Nussbaum Beach at a presentation, and I thought, she was once a stranger on line, a Twitter account I followed.

-I tweeted and added #plpnetwork and #catholicedchat  “a friend of mine is having her first chemotherapy session this week and what should I pack her?” The responses I received were kind and helpful.

-I sat in a meeting with the most amazing co-workers and two people, our Connected Learner coaches, we have never met in person, Skyped in and guided us with their thoughtful questions and insightful advice.

– I joined a Projects By Jen project. My third grade students created Christmas cards to share with 29 other teachers and students from all over the world. We anxiously wait to receive their Christmas cheer in return. We have already received two from Pennsylvania and Texas.

-I happily “chatted” for an hour this past Saturday at 9am EST through a Tweetchat using #catholicedchat . I enjoyed connecting and learning with Catholic educators all over the country.

I am not encouraging other professional educators to connect with strangers online without using common sense or appropriate digital citizenship and internet safety.  I have  carefully created a professional learning network of individuals to enhance my professional learning. I encourage and expect others to be careful and smart in these interactions.

Lastly, I will share a very personal and touching moment. Last Friday morning my good friend received her first chemo treatment. I was thinking about her as a Tweet came across my screen. A person I have never met before, a stranger, and someone I consider a friend now, sent me a Tweet and said, “Please let your friend know my students and I are praying for her.” I shared this touching message with my friend and it brought tears to her eyes. This teacher was one of those who had responded to my Tweet inquiry about helpful first chemo items. I am grateful for these connections and all of these “strangers” I now consider friends.

Do you interact with other education professionals that you have never met in person? How do they enhance your professional development? How do you ensure you do this safely?

3 responses to “Talking to (Strangers) Education Professionals I Don’t Know

  1. Kay, thank you for relating all your encounters with “strangers” these last few weeks. I think you are a great example of how we can, with careful thought and practice, create for ourselves a support network that can not only enhance our teaching abilities but also provide us with much needed personal support.

  2. lisamnoble says:

    My province is currently embroiled in labour disputes, and elementary teachers are walking the picket line in rotating one-day strikes. Imagine my surprise this morning when a tweet came through from someone in my PLN across the country, asking if I was out, and expressing support. Made my day. It’s those connections that make the real magic.

  3. psmiley says:

    Kay, you are always thoughtful and moving in your posts. I hope you continue to blog because I look forward to reading them. Thanks for all the resources you share and for the caring you provide to all!

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