Value Added

Reflection has been the learner profile trait of the last couple of weeks here at LCS so I thought it fitting that I take a few moments to look back at the first two months of #AfricaEd and what I’ve learned.  So here’s my list, in no particular order.

Developing and maintaining a Twitter chat is a lot of work.  I have to admit, I really had no idea what I was getting into when I started this.  I had participated in a few chats and was amazed by the value of the conversations and the development as a professional that they offered me.  I saw the potential in a chat that connected educators in Africa and I simply went for it.  I researched an available hashtag, threw together a quick website and started promoting the chat on Twitter and through Facebook groups.  For some reason I thought getting it started would be the hard part and then it would cruise along by itself.  Its so much more than that though.

The process has stretched me as a professional as I’ve worked to establish a community of educators, continued to find ways to promote the chat and looked for intriguing and productive topics. It has been a fantastic two months of growth for me.  I’ve connected with educators from around the world, learned new skills and implemented several new ideas in my classroom thanks to the development of the chat. It something that couldn’t be done on my own and I’m thankful to the entire community of educators that have suggested topics, moderated chats and simply been supportive as we’ve gotten this started.

Opportunities presented by a global PLN are endless and go well beyond my own benefit

Since going full force into the world of Twitter, I’ve not only grown on my own, but I’ve managed to be a help others as well. For me, that’s an even better feeling.

Jessica Raleigh (@TyrnaD) of Colorado presented to our secondary school faculty here at Lincoln Community School via Google Hangouts about the potential and uses of Google Hangouts in education.

Our KG class just yesterday participated in a Skype conversation with a class in Canada where they discussed holiday traditions and shared seasonal songs with each other.  Our students here even got a glimpse of snow thanks to the magic of Skype and they’ve got plans to continue the conversation in the next semester.

My own grade 8 students created videos about Christmas in Ghana and their home countries to exchange with connections made in Ethiopia and Canada.

The counseling department here at LCS is working to create a chat for international school counselors in the coming semester. (Full disclosure, that department includes my wife.)

There have also been several times when retweets have helped to connect colleagues and I’ve been able to sit back and watch a beautiful conversations develop.

Then there are the innumerable resources that have been selflessly shared with me and I’ve passed on to colleagues.  What if the whole of education worked this way…

There are a lot of positive, progressive teachers out there

Every morning there are an amazing amount of teachers in the States dragging themselves out of bed at 5:30 am (EST & MST) to participate in the conversation on #BFC530. In fact, there are also people on the other side of the world staying up late to join in as well.  Its an amazing dose of positivity and inspiration that thanks to time differences comes to me around my second cup of coffee.  It was that positivity and sense of community that inspired me to take the leap and create #AfricaEd.  I still love to jump in with #BFC530 anytime I can as my class schedule allows.  Its a constant source information and hope.

Our own conversations on #AfricaEd have the same sense of positivity and have sparked some fascinating discussions.  I’ve got a reading list a mile long and so many ideas to pursue I had to get a notebook to start a short and long term to do list.  The community of educators on Twitter here in Africa seems to be a bit smaller, but the schools they represent are pushing the envelope of progress and creating amazing experiences for their students.

Then there are the plethora of other education chats that have the provide endless amounts of inspiration and resources.  Just to plug a few I’ve come across:  #aussieEd #NT2t #asiaEd #INZpirED #satchat #geniushour It can be hard to choose where and when to participate there are so many excellent conversations out there.

I’m thankful for the opportunity that developing this chat has presented me and I look forward to the challenge of keeping it productive and relevant.  I could ramble on about the power of these chats and the experiences I’ve gained over the past two months and there are probably those here at my school who feel like I do.  I’m ok with that though.  I feel strongly that this is a major part of the future of education.  Global collaboration and sharing of resources has the potential for exponential growth of our profession and in turn of our students.  I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited to be a teacher and to see what the coming year will bring.

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