Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My First Thoughts on Attending #140Conf

I wanted to jot down my first thoughts on attending and speaking at the 140 Character Conference in Detroit. These are just some quick thoughts for now and I will write a larger post in a few days. I wanted to focus on the first few words that came to my mind as I drove home.


It was really nice to be surrounded by people that feel the same way about the power of Social Media. From a local point of view, it was also nice to be surrounded by people that love the city of Detroit as much as I do. I couldn't help but feel that I was just surrounded by good people with the same goal. As the one of three or four teachers that Tweet on a regular basis, it was nice to be surrounded by people who were all on the same page. Even though I had not communicated with these people over Twitter before, I felt like we had a common bond over a shared experience. Social Media is cool that way. It reminded me a bit of ISTE in Denver and that made me feel very comfortable.


As teachers, we are all very supportive of what each other do. It's nice to share our lessons with other teachers and get feedback. At #140Conf, I shared my class blogging and the Romeo and Juliet joint project with Van Meter and the response was amazing. I received a ridiculous amount of @ mentions from people who not only loved the idea, but wished their kids could have me for a teachers. Some even said they wish they could have me as a teacher. It was a very weird feeling because I think it was the first time I received real feedback from non-educators, parents of students or the students themselves. It was a very nice feeling. Some of the tweets I received are up their in the realm of letters from students. I saved some of those tweets as a reminder of why I work hard on my lessons.


I felt respected as an "expert" in my field. I use quotes because I think it is so weird to use that term for me because I still see myself as just another English teacher trying new things in the classroom and their are many of us out there that do the same thing. Too often, teachers are not afforded the same respect other professionals receive for some unknown reason. It is a little sad that I should get so excited for receiving respect, but as a profession, we do not get enough of it in the professional realm. Hopefully speaking at #140Conf and similar events not dedicated solely to education will help change that.


This is funny to write at the moment because I'm so fried. My brain has been in overdrive since I woke up at 5 this morning. The reason I'm exhausted is because I've been spending my day thinking about all of the amazing ideas I've heard about. I wonder how I can get my students involved in these amazing movements in the city I love dearly. I felt the same way after ISTE and when I come back from my Leadership Camp where I work with Student Council kids from all over the state. The one thing these events have in common is passion. Everyone involved with those three events are passionate about what they do and that is why they are involved. With a country filled with passionate people, I find it hard to believe that public education is failing everyone everywhere.


#140Conf is a game changer for so many people and the projects they are passionate about. I feel very lucky to have been able to go and listen to other people talk about the city they love and the different ways they want to give back. I also feel very lucky that I had a brief moment to speak up at the end and defend the amazing public school teachers out their that are having a tough time right now.  It was a rare opportunity to speak to non-teachers and let them know that there are teachers out there working hard to change education. Too many times we spend most of our time "preaching to the choir" on Twitter. I was lucky to steal a moment and let everyone know that public education is not perfect, but teachers are working hard to make it better every day.

These are just some of my initial thoughts on the #140Conf. It was an amazing event and I'm excited that @jeffpulver has promised to bring it back next year. If he comes close to your town, please make a note to go and see the amazing ideas in your community. It will change your view of Real Time Communication and the way it impacts you.

Ok, I need to unplug for the night. More to come later this week. Thanks again to each and every person that RT or @ Mentioned me today. I couldn't do anything without the support of my PLN and all of my followers.


  1. Nick, I am so glad you were able to experience this awesome event, not only experience but be a "character." I'm proud of you! But I think you learned the next step in your social media journey, not to limit it to just educators. I am learning that opening my educator life to others is slowly diminishing that echo chamber you hear so much about. Since last January I started following and allowing followers from my home town, a place I truly love. By last summer I had become friends with so many people from so many walks of life. Birmingham has a large social media presence that I was unaware of. They have "lunch bunch" and bar camps and more. The amazing part is that now they have a glimpse into the world of education and they give me a glimpse of the world outside of it. I've learned how they use social media to learn just like we do! I love learning about my community and taking part in it. I also love how there is usually one person who is not in education that comments on my education based tweets and YES blog post. It is nice to get the "where do you teach because I want my kids to have you as a teacher" as well as "What is wrong with Superman and charters, it is nice to hear from a teacher not a politician." I like to think I am opening their mind to what education is really like (not textbooks and worksheets). Also like they know what a PLN is and when I went to ISTE many knew about that as well. The people you met while at #140conf, follow them, include as part of your "PLN" because you will learn from them and they will in return learn from you!


  2. Nick, I can't think of anyone better suited to represent educators to the general public than you. I think that more of our PLN needs to get out there and share what we are doing with the community so that the buzz is one of respect, viewing teachers as experts, and wanting the best teachers for their kids. Awesome job, glad to be represented by you and so happy that you had such a great experience!


Please post your thoughts here. Thanks!