In my very first post, Dean made a comment about my "voice" and how glad he was to see that I was comfortable with mine. Writing is always a laborious process for me. It's a bit of a love/hate relationship in that I usually love the product but hate the process. It took me hours to write most of these posts because of the time I take to make sure they are properly edited, they are well resourced, and that they are enjoyable to read. So I appreciated that Dean noticed my effort to let my personality shine through as that was something that was important to me. One is always a little nervous about the first time he/she puts him/herself out there because, as they say,
Disagreements or having someone challenge your point of view can also be a great way to learn. Sometimes having someone point out an opposing stance can help us to either reconsider our initial thoughts or solidify our position on a topic. One article that had everyone chatting was the story of an Edmonton teacher who was suspended for not abiding by his school's No-Zero Policy. I wrote my own post on the topic and also engaged in conversation with others about their views on the matter, both classmates and strangers. This was a challenge for me as I often think of my views as "irrelevant" or "uninformed" because I am not working in the field yet. But as I took chances and publicized my opinion, I received some positive feedback as well as some alternate perspectives, all with my professionalism intact. These are learning opportunities I would have missed out on if I had remained safely on the sidelines.
I did the same on twitter where, after several failed attempts, I finally participated in an #edchat. It was there that
I received a suggestion for posing questions to increase the likelihood of receiving a comment or starting a conversation, so I began trying to incorporate them into my posts. I found some interesting conversations ensued after a question was asked, like one another classmate posted about homework. As I was checking my Google Reader one day, I saw a similar post from an educator in Alberta and shared the link for Jane in her comments. She checked it out, posted a comment for Joe about her own blog, which then brought him into our discussion. If you look at the conversation there, lots of different ideas and resources were passed around. A great example of collaborative learning and Jane has since started following Joe too.
Another thing I found with questions, are that they can be an actual call for help. I noticed many of my peers asking for assistance with some aspect of technology and I always tried to respond because I know how frustrating it can be sometimes! I read about a classmate struggling with the size of something she was trying to embed in her blog. Since we both use Weebly, I played around with it in my own blog first and then sent her the instructions so she would have them for next time. I also provided Jane with some assistance with embedding her survey in WordPress and directed another classmate to Jane on twitter when she was struggling with the same issue. I've even extended my helping hand to people outside the class with technology troubles like my friend here. I am a problem solver by nature, so I love responding to challenges.
Throughout the semester I tried to remain conscious of the positive feelings and motivation I got from knowing that people were reading my posts. For me, comments are a measure of reader engagement so I made a point of sharing my thoughts with fellow bloggers. I did it for children and I did it for adults and both made me feel great. Part of a teacher's job is to inspire, inform, share, and collaborate with students and other educators. I consider myself lucky because, in my chosen profession, I will get to do this kind of stuff everyday. And Dean, my classmates, and everyone else I have connected with along the way, have all taught me that technology has expanded the audience with which I can do those things. I think I really embraced the collaborative style of this class, which is so critical because as Dean wrote, "You can't be a lurker in [this] class". I value all of the input and resources I have received over the semester and I hope that my classmates feel the same way about my contributions.
Education is changing. What an exciting time to be a teacher!
Thank you everyone for a great semester!