Almost four years ago I had an idea. I’d participated in a couple of Twitter chats and found them to be great inspiration and full of resources. But none of them seemed to take place during the hours I wanted to engage. The chats that I had found were all based in the US which meant US time zones and US education issues. While a lot of the conversation transferred to my situation, I wanted to find ways to connect with other international educators and in turn help them connect with one another as well. I’d already made a few contacts across the continent who were interested in finding ways to connect. So, on November 4 of 2014 I launched #AfricaEd with a little help from some friends here in Africa as well as back in the States.
Since that first chat, I knew I’d found something something meaningful. I was in the middle of helping others connect. We were trading ideas, making connections and building our practice by connecting outside our own walls. Through the years it has had its ups and downs. There were chats when I was the only one answering the questions, as well as chats when I couldn’t keep up with the conversation there was so much going on. There were weeks when I felt like I had the perfect questions and I was ready on Monday for the Thursday chat. And there were times when I realized as I laid down in bed on Wednesday night that I hadn’t prepped the chat and had to crank out some questions. We had deep, philosophical chats and light, sometimes hilarious chats. To me both were equally important in making connections between educators.
Through it all, my own learning was exponential. Not just in the connections with amazing educators around the world, but also in organization and creating questions. It forced me to be creative, concise and clear in my questions. I got better and better at scheduling Tweets, understanding good times to promote the chat and discovered other hashtags to draw in more participants. I eventually even managed to incorporate a bit of my learning from Cognitive Coaching into my questions driving the conversations a bit deeper.
When I started with that first chat, I had no idea where it would take me. Yet my involvement with #AfricaEd led to and opportunity to present for and eventually work with our regional association, AISA. I became involved as a founding Ambassador in the #TeachSDGs movement and recently have become involved with Empatico.org. The PLN that I’ve built has provided me with #EdCamp planning resources, example job descriptions as I wrote my own, connections between classrooms around the world, a plethora of great ideas and most importantly, friends that I’m in regular contact with and look forward to meeting in person one day.
It has been a fantastic journey and I appreciate all those who have been a part of it. As I prepare to leave Ghana at the end of this week and begin a new chapter in Jordan, I look forward to checking in to the chat next year as a guest and seeing the direction it takes. It makes me happy that even in the act of walking away from the chat I was able to help make one more connection. #AfricaEd will be taken over this fall by two educators, one in Angola and the other in Sudan who have never met, but now will work together to connect others. It leaves me feeling like I’ve accomplished my mission and I’m excited to see what comes next.