One of my first lessons in the professional world focused on the value of time management and R.O.T. I. (Return On Time Invested.) With time being one the most precious commodities in our personal and professional lives, I am careful about where I invest my time. When it came to social media, my initial experience led me to believe it yielded a small return and I chose not to invest my time or energy.
However, a week ago, I joined the #4OCFPLN on Voxer and discovered that with the right format and the right people, social media can enrich one’s professional and personal life. Here are my reflections on my first week exploring and how it led to a week full of discovery, creativity and
- A plethora of topics: Want to explore a topic, just throw it out there…in one week we explored everything from the importance of knowing our ‘Why’, when to introduce writing line’s to students, Social Emotional Learning, the rising trend of anxiety, PBIS, Restorative Justice, there was even some silliness involving waffles and male entertainers (you have to have been there 😉 ), then there is the occasional grunt and growl, which is both therapeutic as well as entertaining. This is just a small sample of the wide range of topics. (I attempted to catalog all of them but after about 33+ I gave up).
- A wide variety of viewpoints: The group includes K-12 teachers, principals, district administrators, authors, presenters, instructional coaches, tech coaches, etc., from across the country and at various stages of experiences.
- Flexibility: The Voxer format allows you to access the app on any device that has internet access and all you to access the feed at a time/place that is convenient for you.
- A range of tools: Voxer allows participants to share via voice recording, text, links, emoji’s, and GIF’s
CommunityFamily: My purpose in joining this group was to find a community of educators who would help me grow. What I discovered is that it is more than a community, it goes deeper, it is a family of people who share a fire, a passion for educating young people, a group that models respect and integrity in their lives and professions, who are devoted to excellence and to family and a group that genuinely care about and love each other professionally and personally.
- Innovative Creators: Some people consume in social media, others self-promote, then there are the naysayers or sarcastic downers. #4OCFPLN is filled with creators and innovators! Creating PD, presentations, videos, meme’s, authoring books, giving feedback, helping each other with slide presentations, challenging each other to blog, even challenging one another in Fitbit and health challenges. In each case, there are words and expressions of support and encouragement.
- Humanity: An unexpected discovery was using technology to experience the best of humanity. From the first day, I was greeted with friendly, warm voices of cheer and welcome. With each passing day, the Voxes/message were filled with words of encouragement, support, advice, questions, laughter, and sarcasm between each and every member. I am hooked. I didn’t realize the need I had for this, how siloed I had become and how refreshingly invigorating it can be to belong, to feel safe, to have fun and be accepted and respected.
- Learner vs. Lurker: This has been a positive experience for me because I chose to engage, take a risk and dive into conversations. I wanted to be a learner and not a lurker (someone who watches but does not participate).
- Call to Action: The #4OCFPLN is active (they are chatting from 4am – 10pm.I am not exaggerating). When negative memes about the start of school started to appear on Twitter – there was a ‘call to action’ to fill Twitter with positive meme’s and BAM within an hour there were half a dozen meme’s posted. When someone was curious about SEL texts BAM the next hour the feed was filled with numerous suggestions. When someone wanted help with a tech problem they were having for a presentation they were giving the next day…you guessed it, BAM a number of people offered their help.
- Deeper Understanding: A consistent theme that runs through this group is understanding our Why? for everything we do. So while it is a group that supports each other they also challenge one another to go deeper in their understanding and apply sound and relevant research and best practices.
If you have tried social media and found it was not useful. If you feel like you are siloed and looking for positive educators to connect with, I encourage you to give social media another try. Find the medium that fits your personality, your style. Take a risk and either join and participate in an existing group or create your own. I personally invite you to join the #4OCFPLN, but be forewarned it is exhilarating and addicting and a taste of what is the best in education and humanity.