A Community

As I sit here ready to pack after meeting with the OSAPAC group and the Western RCAC Symposium, I’m reflecting on the events of the past couple of years in Ontario and what technology has managed to enable.

The genesis of my thinking had to be the invitation to keynote our Symposium conference given to Will Richardson.  After the Symposium, we had Will present in a hands-on format to the RCAC, COCA, and OSAPAC group in a much smaller setting.  For many, it was a chance to serious take a look at blogging, creating wikis, and of course, getting connected via Twitter.

Not everyone stayed the course on that day but some did.  The result really seems to be the starting of a community to really work with and share.  There’s a core group that remains connected almost daily as they Twitter about their learnings and they read and write to each others blogs.  There have always been educational grouping and conferences and you get that one day shot in the arm to go forth and change the world.

But, something else is happening.  There’s a real core group of people that continue the discussion on a daily basis.  They share the highs and lows of our profession and the learning that happens to make great teachers greater.  Terms like PLC and PLN get bantered about and it’s great to see folks thinking in terms of learning with others.  I still wrestle with formally adopting them personally.  Using the technology, it can be as trivial or as engaging as you let it be. Conferences are better and of more value because of the connectiveness that the technology enables.  (I know, Windows, “connectiveness” isn’t a word.  Thanks for the wavy line)

What really struck me as we stuffed registration bags and as I stood on the stage yesterday and looked at the audience, there are really deep connections among those who meet in communities.  The Western RCAC group meets periodically and we know each other from that association.  But, this collection of people who are using the technology often meet face to face only for the first or second or third time.  Unlike the unique human condition where you awkwardly take the first couple of steps to getting to know someone, something better is happening.  At times, there hasn’t been the initial face to face meeting but people actually do know enough about each other to start talking at a different level.  They know what they teach, their bent, the inward drive that makes people what they are.  By becoming part of this and contributing, you’ve become transparent from the beginning.

By embracing the conversation whether it be by blogging or Twittering, that connection has already started and is well developed in many cases.  Going to a conference is now becoming a forum to continue a conversation that has already started and is maturing.  Consequently, the value is so much more.  At the ECOO Conference, a large number got together in a “Tweetup” and the connections were immediate and very obvious.  The same thing happened in London at the Symposium.  The same thing happened in Toronto at the OTF PD event.  The group knows each other and gets to the discussion immediately.  It’s quite amazing when you think about it.  Because I was chairing the events of yesterday, I was so envious of all that was happening that I couldn’t be a part of. I had to deal with timelines and weather and equipment and hotel staff and …  As I was yanked around here and there, one table to the left of me was enjoying this opportunity to share.

Further though, this group hasn’t become a walled clique.  New people are welcome to the group and their contributions are welcomed immediately.  I’ve had a back and forth with a person who drops by our board office every now and again and I’ve said hi a couple of times.  We’re now debating the status of “newby” and there really isn’t one that I can see.  When you embrace this connectiveness, you’re in.  Everyone contributes their insights and their knowledge immediately and are valued for doing this.

It’s easy and ongoing and I hope continues to build a community of folks that take their resources off the wall and share it with the world.  The learning is continuous.  Not everyone is able to attend all of these events.  By communicating during them, the group shares the knowledge with everyone else.

There have been many attempts to build community and sharing in the past.  There’s something really special happening right now and I know that I am so appreciative for all of the connections that I’m currently making.  A day doesn’t go by that I’m not learning something new from them.

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