It has been a very busy week and it will only intensify from now until the end of June. I’ve been working on several projects and just haven’t had the time to get involved in conversations via twitter or read too many blogs. However, as I was working tonight, I’ve been reading a few as they cross my screen. The following tweet by byjudeonline caught my eye:

the thing about twitter. regular teachers can’t sit and tweet all day. we’re missing the most important conversations of all

This response followed:

dmcordell @heyjudeonline I agree, and there’s also the extreme time differences to contend with. Wish we could go back more than 10 pages in updates.

Followed by:

MetaWeb20 @heyjudeonline many of my teachers don’t even use email, let alone tweet!

heyjudeonline @MetaWeb20  my thinking too. It’s to easy to create ‘parochial tweet camp’

kolson29 @heyjudeonline but aren’t the resources you find here valuable enough as is? Just b/c all tchrs not here, doesn’t diminish value IMO

heyjudeonline @kolson29  oh yeah, love what I learn via twitter. just worry too many tweeters are not representative of teaching possibilities. Silly me!

 The idea brought up by heyjudeonline  is a core part of the whole web2.0/21st century learning discussion . As I work frantically to meet deadlines, get ready for meetings, meet with parents, visit classrooms and all the rest, there isn’t time for me to be on twitter or keep up with the conversations and discussions and I just don’t have the desire to go back too far in the discussions to see if I’m missing anything. My edge has about 2 frayed nerves left and someone keeps tapping one or the other.  There just isn’t the time to partake in the discussions that are going on. As someone who has a bit of understanding about technology in schools, I’d like to be part of the discussions. Thing is, there isn’t time and any time I do scratch out of the day, I am becoming more and more stingy about because time demands due to my job have been increasing over time regardless of the technology I or others are using.

Missing a crucial voice?

We are missing a crucial voice in all the discussions that are taking place. I’ve heard many people who are using technology who just don’t get why others cannot see how great it is or they don’t want to keep showing people only to have them not use it or they are “told off” by frustrated teachers or become defensive about what they are doing or…. Sometimes, when someone makes a negative remark about what we do or the time we take up doing what we do, the tendency is to become defensive and react. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that remarks like that have a grain of truth in them even if we don’t agree with the entire remark or with the accusation being made or we don’t want there to be. As a principal, I’ve had more than a few people say things about me that I could just brush off as being of no use. However, to learn and grow, I’ve really looked at what has been said and learned to see the grain of truth that is hidden there. I then take it and let what could be an irritant become something that I use to grow and turn into a pearl.

I believe we miss out on some great insights because we’re offended or dismissed or whathaveyou. There is a tone of superiority that does come across when discussing those who use tech in teaching and “the others.” For many teachers, technology integration and use is the last thing they are thinking about as they prepare to meet the demands of the students in their classroom. Heck, I’m beginning to question this whole twitter craze and really wondering if there isn’t a better way to spend my time than trying to reduce all my discussion into 140 characters (including spaces)! I don’t have the time to surf looking at url’s for this or that or to try out this or that. It just isn’t happening because of the pace. I’ve even tried giving away paperwork but no one would take it! When part of your job isn’t related to technology use, it is very hard to find time to do these above mentioned things even if, like me, you are really interested in them.

The comment by kolson29  but aren’t the resources you find here valuable enough as is? Just b/c all tchrs not here, doesn’t diminish value  makes me fret. I worry that the gap between the “users” and “non-users” will widen because teachers who are full-time classroom teachers don’t have the time to work with these resources. Even tech-savvy educators find it difficult to keep up with the conversations and the tool-sharing because they don’t have time to take in all that is happening or become part of the constant conversation that takes place. Being a follower, the exchange of information is wonderful but it is very fast, always constant, without form and too large to backtrack. Those who have the time are building the networks, others who are being introduced are trying but, I’ve noticed, many fall away because they don’t have the time to keep up with the conversations. I follow about 250 people but, realistically, there are about 25 people who dominate the conversations and who are discussing issues, looking at various tools, building their teaching repetoire and so on. As heyjudeonline says “we’re missing the most important conversations of all” – the other 225 or so who aren’t part of the conversations.

Go to the Source

I know that many people who use technology and want to share it with the masses have been turned down when bringing it to other teachers. Maybe we need to change the tactic a bit. Instead of bringing the knowledge, ask teachers what they want to do. Go to these people who are busy with full days, families, extra-curricular and have some other life outside school and ask them “What would you like to be able to do a bit differently?” “What is it about your teaching you’d like to tweak?” “What part of the actual teaching do you find overwhelming?” Ask questions. Find out what would make their lives easier, better, funner(?), ….. and see if it can be delivered. If they start out a bit negative, find that grain of sand and grow that pearl. I know that I’ve been amazed at what happens when I’ve taken something that came to me in a very negative manner and found that one piece I could use to help myself grow and created a pearl in some way. Sometimes being direct and acknowledging how they feel

I sense that you aren’t happy with certain technology uses that have been tried before and you’re a bit frustrated by___________________ and you feel you don’t have time with all the other demands on your desk and …… I just want to let you know that there are things that will help you if, like you ask your kids, give it your best effort and try. There is something everyone can do.

We are missing a piece of the conversation – in fact I would suggest we’re missing out on the conversation as we’ve moved to another room apart from what most other educators are discussing. I guess the challenge is to decide whether we wait for some of them to ask us if they can join or if we go to them and join in their conversation, bringing with us the ideas we have for improvement.

Note – while doing this post, there were approximately 75 tweets that passed back and forth between people. Interestingly enough, the number of people involved isn’t that large. What are other teachers doing?