A couple of years ago, I would speak at staff meetings and I could see eyes raising and people looking at one another with that, ‘here she goes again’, body language happening. Experiences like that have made me wary of staff presentations. In fact, I’m more comfortable presenting to a room of 200 strangers than I am with the people I work with on a day to day basis.
Yesterday I ran a whole day workshop at my school for Toorak College’s Continuous Professional Learning Seminar series, and the majority of participants were people I work with. I was more than a little anxious I have to admit. Firstly, it was a whole day, and that’s a whole lot more daunting than a one hour presentation, and secondly, I was putting my ideas out there to people who I found my most difficult audience.
Well, I’m pleased to say, my fears were unfounded. It was a really great day. I had plenty of content to keep the day humming along nicely; too much in fact. We were racing a bit towards the end! I’m pretty chuffed to know I can single-handedly lead a successful workshop, and hope I get the opportunity to do it again. Best of all, my audience was responsive and open. Open to ideas, open to thinking about social media as something that we need to explore in our classrooms. It was affirming for me. I feel so much more positive about enacting change in our classrooms and working cooperatively with staff who want to see how they can reinvent their practice to suit the times we are living in.
And that’s what’s made the change I think. The time we are living in. Social media is far more pervasive in our lives than it was three years ago. I joined Twitter three years ago; I was making connections and could see then the powerful communication device it was for sharing and learning. I’d speak about it in glowing (evangelical?) terms to people I worked with, and I could see they just didn’t understand. To them, it was a time waster, a place where people told one another what they’d eaten for breakfast.
Today, Twitter is mainstream. It’s referenced on news bulletins, popular morning TV news programs share reporters’ Twitter user names and they use hashtags to encourage online conversations around a topic. Yesterday, we talked at length about Twitter, and visited hashtag results pages for Libya and Christchurch, where we could see aggregated tweets giving us real time information. Some participants joined up, and I hope they make efforts to follow people and make connections that will inform their teaching practice. I know that every day Twitter takes me to places that extend my learning and I would never have located those places without its help.
It’s this pervasiveness of new media in our lives that made all the difference yesterday. Now it’s important to understand new technologies and people are ready to listen. To those of you reading this who have been immersed for some time and have felt discouraged in your schools, I think we are seeing the tide turning. Social media is mainstream, and our skills are necessary. We can lead others and we need to do so.