Today’s view – yep – overwhelmed!
This post is the direct result of these tweets:
Earlier in the day, I read this post by Tom Whitby – Patience for the Unconnected about being connected. All of this reminded me of the tweet I ran across earlier, with a reference to a post from Chris Betcher.
It described what he did in a 10 minute span via twitter. It’s worth a read. All this is taking place as Connected Educator Month in the US is done it’s first full week. People are looking to continue to connect but life in all it’s busy glory has come along to sideswipe their best intentions. Now, I may not be the best one to hand out advice about connecting but, hey, what the heck…. I’ve got some time on my hands now.
but before I get to the suggestions – Don’t Fret About It
Really, don’t worry about “how often” or “how much” or “I haven’t been on in …” It’s like sleep, the more you worry about why you aren’t sleeping, the less likely you are to go to sleep! You won’t solve the problem of not sleeping at 3 AM and you won’t build more connections worrying about being connected. I suggest that you take some time in the next few days to examine how you might get back. Like Chris suggests, you don’t have to be on for 3 hours a day. You don’t have to take in a chat, you don’t have to blog once a week, you don’t have to do …. anything that adds more stress to your already stressful life. Unfortunately, many of the most prolific bloggers, tweeters and connectors have worked over time to do this and have dedicated time and energy to establishing and growing their PLN. If you’re just starting, don’t worry if you miss a few days or a week or maybe two. No one knows your life circumstances nor your comfort level with sharing nor where you are in your career and life path. But you’ve decided that you want to be connected, so try a few of these ideas.
#1 – Schedule time to connect via your fav social media site – twitter, pinterest, tumblr, whatever…. schedule some time to just get back to the connections. It’s the whole planning thing that Covey discusses – you may need to plan the connections. Yeah, it will seem a bit “forced” at first – like going out on “couple dates” with your spouse for the first time (that’s another whole book!) but over time, you begin to look forward to them and then, low and behold, you soon are seeing that you can make that connection in so many ways – not just on date night.
#2 – Build you PLN with a variety of people – some you know will give you some great ideas and suggestions and stories, some you’re not sure about and some that have nothing to do with education but with other interests. Now, for twitter there is this nice easy guide to twitter from edudemic which will help. But whatever your SM of choice, take some time and select a few people and check out their followers and add a few of them to yours. But don’t just follow people who think like you – that leads to “group think” which can be hazardous to innovation, new ideas and deep reflection caused by someone questioning. People on my list includeC Smith M Smith, David Truss, and TJShay, who share a great deal and who have been there for some good discussions. Some of my new friends – like M Wren, T Whitford, R Bretag, J Stortz , and C Rhymer .
#3 – Check out some of the places where other educators are hanging out – not just twitter. Being connected means so much more than having a twitter account. It’s about developing a series of relationships with people that will push you and support you. A few good places to look are:
Fireside Learning- a ning that supports teachers through discussions and interactions
Teacher 2.0 – run by Steve Hargadon – a great resource for getting connected.
Lead Learner 2.0 – my own ning – a gathering place for administrators and others in lead positions
Future of Education - a site dedicated to discussion concerning the future of education
Google+ – this is a great place if you are more interested in groups and longer conversations. There are all sorts of groups you can join, discussions you can join and blogs you can read.
Diigo – a site where you can save bookmarks, join discussion groups and share information.
There are a great many such sites and all of them have great discussions. The point is, find one and get acquainted. Follow the conversations and what is happening. Trying to be in too many places at once just frustrates you and will eventually burn you out or make you feel like you’re spinning your wheels.
#4 – Find a productivity tool that will help you to schedule some writing and manage your ideas. I use Evernote coupled with the app awesomenote (ipad/iphone) for this. What I did when I was busy was, when I got an idea, I’d quickly jot myself a note with afew details in my “Idea” notebook. When I had some time and felt like writing, I’ve go through these and reflect on the ideas. If you are wanting to build up your blogging, this is a good way to help yourself gather ideas. This, and reading a few select blogs, will help you to identify some common themes and ideas that you can write about besides how busy you are and how you want to be connected. And now, with Postach.io, you can blog right from your Evernote account! Cool huh!
#5 – Read blogs – but be selective. I’d start with information from Edudemic, Edutopia and ASCD and a few of the people from your PLN. Depending on your tastes, you can eventually move to having a Reader to help you manage what you are reading but to start, I’d use something like Pocket or Pearltrees to save interesting posts for you to read later.
But I’m Just Overwhelmed right now……
This will happen and it’s okay. Really, it is. You’re not a failure because you really don’t get twitter right off the start and you don’t see why anyone would blog – or has the time to do either. I often wondered over time if some of the people who blog and tweet and other connected stuff had jobs and families, whether they taught or coached or had families that were going all over the place. I quit wondering because it didn’t matter. In the end, I’m connected but I cannot keep the highspeed pace all the time and my goal isn’t to earn a living through building up my PLN so I can do presentations and such – yet ;-) In fact, there were weeks when I didn’t look at anything online because the crisis in my own world were big enough and my family and other commitments were getting all the extra time I had left. It happens – it depends on your where you are in your life/career. Some people don’t have much extra time after teaching and family commitments. There are all kinds of reasons – it’s okay. Really it is. If you are trying to build your PLN and are looking at such things as Pinterest, twitter, plurk and other forms of Social Media, it will come. Life won’t always be this crazy.
Being connected does open many opportunities to learn and share. It provides each person with as much or as little interaction as they want and can handle. Unfortunately, like all things, things like twitter and Pinterest aren’t for everyone but that doesn’t mean you still can’t be connected through online articles and sites, reading and investigating what is happening in educational theory and practice. What it really means is that you take that step outside your classroom, outside your school and your district/division and begin to explore and learn. Things are changing and to ignore that is no longer a viable option for anyone, teachers included. It means venturing out and exploring and seeing what others are doing and saying. If you want to talk about it, just drop me a note. I’d gladly discuss how I might be able to help you. I have some time right now!
#SAVMP – School Admin Virtual Mentor Program is a program initiated by George Couros. Basically it establishes a mentor with a number of newer administrators but without the traditional geographic boundaries.