Monday, May 28, 2012

Where I am and how I got here

As the end of the school year draws to a close, I like to reflect on everything that has happened and how it has impacted me as a teacher. Today, I really wanted to write about how Social Media has impacted me over the best couple of years.

I started on Blogger and Twitter in January of 2010. I had no big ideas or grand schemes, I just wanted to have space to call my own and share what I thought was interesting. It was going to be a place for me to reflect on my teaching and experience with technology. Getting involved in Social Media turned out to be so much more than that.

That is the interesting thing about Social Media. It can really take on a life of itself and that is not a bad thing. Twitter introduced me to some of my best friends in the world. There are people I have connected with that have provided me with crucial feedback that has helped me strengthen my lessons and take whole new approaches to education. These educators, too many to name here, have made me better at my job. They have impacted students across the country because they have impacted me. I hope I have had the same effect on them and their classes.

Without Social Media, I never would have heard of edcamp and would have never decided to start edcamp Detroit. Edcamps, for me, are the perfect extension of my experience with Social Media. I viewed Twitter as a place where educators got together to discuss what they wanted. They connected over topics that were relevant to them so they could be better. Edcamp is a physical representation of that idea. Teacher get together to discuss and share ideas that are important to the them. Just like no two twitter conversations with be exactly the same, no edcamp will be exactly the same. With two edcamps under my belt, I'm very proud of what they have been able to do in Metro Detroit. Providing a space for teacher to improve their craft is awesome and I'm proud to say I'm part of that.

I never thought The Nerdy Teacher would become a "thing". I am humbled when I get new followers and am still blown away when someone leaves a comment on my blog. I still view myself as "just another teacher", but maybe that is the power of Social Media. While tweeting and blogging have taken me to some really cool places, the main aspect of sharing my thoughts is always there. It's what I'm doing right now.

I'm often asked by friends how I got so many followers or how I connected with certain people and it is always difficult to explain. I always hem and haw because I'm just as shocked as they are, but it always comes down to one thing. I'm just being me. Twitter allows me to nerd out about the things I like and connect with people that are just as passionate about the same nerdy things. I no longer have to feel like an island in my building because I'm doing things differently. Social Media has allowed me to connect with like-minded educators all over the world. We help guide each other in uncharted waters as we take risks to better prepare our students for the world ahead. Social Media has made this possible in way that traditional professional development could never achieve.

Social spaces aren’t about followers. They are about connections -- and my connections make me a better teacher and a better person every day. That is why I find value in using these spaces as a professional and encourage so many more to enter these spaces. Don't be there just to be there. Be there to become better.

I look forward to another year of connections and experiences because of my uses of Social Media. If you are not connected, you are not growing in the 21st Century.

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