My Thoughts about “Twitter and Canadian Educators”

The problem with top 10 lists happens when you’re not on it.  Of course, you can always delude yourself that you’re number 11 and as Max Smart would say “missed it by that much”.  My friend Alfred Thompson and I kid each other about lists that we didn’t make.  But, seriously, if you end up on a top 10 list, you have to ask how big the sample size was, what was the criteria for selection, is it important to being on that list among other things.

So, it was a curiosity when Andy Forgrave tweeted this story this morning.  I started to read the article from the Canadian Education Association and was nodding my head in agreement as I read the story written by Max Cooke.  I was kind of surprised to have been quoted in the article until I remember being interviewed a while ago.  It’s a pretty interesting article about the use of Social Media (Twitter specifically) in the realm of Professional Development.  It’s relatively easy to search and find stories and blog articles about this topic world-wide and that’s really important.

What’s different about this article is that it’s focused on Canadians using social media for professional discourse and learning.  I think that’s pretty significant.

Dig into many of these discussion on Twitter and you’ll almost always find that the contributors are from south of the border.  Now, there’s nothing wrong at all with a global perspective but often a discussion sinks into local issues that really don’t apply.  There definitely is a difference in the discussion.  We have our own baggage!

The importance of the local factor first hit me when I submitted two cohorts into a Powerful Learning Practice year long, job-embedded professional development initiative.  I remember having a private discussion with Will Richardson before joining as he shared the importance of a global perspective with the judicious eye of local innovation.  The PLP Network was going to create an Ontario cohort.  The conversation made a big impact on me and was the tipping point for me to go to my superintendent to dig up the funds for participation.  During the initiative, the groups were involved in discussions and exercises to push their thinking.  While I wasn’t directly in any of the cohort (I was what they called a “fellow”), I got the very best of both worlds.  I worked with a local cohort and made connections with another cohort located elsewhere in the province.  As with all good things, it did end but the relationships and learning continues.

In particular, the local group has continued to work as a group even to this date years later.  While we have physically gone our separate ways, we remain connected using the tools and help each other on a regular basis.  We even make a point to get together a couple of times a year for supper and sharing.  It’s the type of thing that you dream of; colleagues there to learn with you long after the initial mandate.  You couldn’t ask for more.

We remain connected to the bigger “world” and yet have continued to work on things locally.  While that was important with  our particular group, it makes Cooke’s article that more relative.  Yes, it’s important that we’re making learning connections globally but there are times when you need to look around your neighbourhood as well.

Back to Cooke’s article.  He’s included a list of 10 Canadian educators which should serve as a starting point for anyone.  (Click to get a bigger list)  I had to smile when I read the line at the bottom of the table asking if there are other Canadian educators that should be on the list.  Heck, I know of a list of 493 educators just from Ontario located here.  Any one of them should make anybody’s list of educators to follow.

I hope that the article makes its way into the right hands and sparks an interest in educational leaders looking for significant ways to make connections, open eyes, and start to make the change that is needed.  Professional Growth is everybody’s business and I can think of no better way when we’re talking about self-directed learning.  It’s not just something happening “down there”.  It’s happening pretty significantly here in Canada as well.

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