What ties the three things in the title together? Well, I love them all and I have personally found them all useful. It’s more than that, though. I have also found myself “selling” these things to others. I am pretty much convinced that The Wire is the best television show of all time and it’s provided me with much needed distraction on numerous occasions. Reflective Practice has helped me make sense of teaching and learn from experience. Twitter has connected to me a network (ok, fine, a personal learning network) of ELT professionals all around the world and it has been incredibly useful, inspirational and fun for me.
When meeting friends and colleagues lately I’ve sometimes noticed myself going on and on about the latter 2 things. Also, I have presented on RP quite a few times and will be presenting about #KELTchat along with other #KELTchatters at the KOTESOL International Conference. Countless dinners and drinks over the last 10 months have featured me rattling on about Twitter and how great it has been for me. I suppose that is fine as it is something that I am very excited about. I am not, however, so comfortable with the proselytizing aspect at the moment. I don’t really know the source of this discomfort but I thought sharing some thoughts here would be helpful.
I have a friend that has heard me talk about The Wire for years now and has yet to watch a single episode. I am positive he will love it. He said, “I am sure I will like it but I just don’t have time.” I said exactly the same thing to my brother who was always talking about The Wire and telling me how much I would like it. I was full of “yeah buts” and reasons I didn’t yet get into the show. It wasn’t until I was a guest at his home and he plied me with beers after a lovely meal and insisted that we were going to watch a few episodes and if I didn’t like it we could stop after 2 episodes. He was sure I would like it. He was right. I loved it.
It seems like “I don’t have time to” is a common reason given for people not blogging or using Twitter. It also seems like this is an easily mocked or criticized comment by those that truly believe in professional development through these ways.
My friend from above who has never watched The Wire is the same person that had Understanding Teaching Through Learning (an amazing book that I strongly suggest you get if you can…whoops here I go preaching again) untouched on his nightstand for nearly 2 years. By the way, he loved it when he finally opened it and now swears by it. On some levels, I am happy that my friend enjoyed the book. I suppose that my ego is pleased that I was right in choosing a book that would be a good fit for him. I suspect the book has helped him out and even made some sessions a bit better or at least easier to organize and was thus better for his trainee teachers which potentially makes things better for students. Ok. But, I am not really sure what benefits, if any, I have personally received my suggestions and pestering.
Thinking back to The Wire, I can’t really see what benefits I would actually get if my friend suddenly became a huge fan. I would be happy that he spent his free time in a fun and interesting way but maybe that is about it. I guess we could also have some laughs about the antics of McNulty and Bunk but that is about it.
I am really wondering why I care(d) so much about how other people (non-training course participant people, I mean) choose to spend their time and how they choose to develop.
I wrote above that The Wire, RP and Twitter have been extremely useful for me personally. Maybe they won’t be as useful for others and I think that is totally fine. Maybe Twitter is not so useful for everyone. Maybe they are fine with their own professional development and maybe my thoughts on how they *should be developing are not really all that important to them. Maybe I *should just chill out a bit and worry about myself and what works for me and those incredible people in my PLN.
I feel like in the next few months or so I will just talk about how great RP and Twitter (and The Wire too I suppose) have been for me and let people know that I will be keen to talk about these things if they choose to get involved. I will resist the urge to push and will just let people make up their own minds.
Questions that come to mind include:
- Do you have any experience “selling” things like Twitter and RP? How did it go?
- Have you ever had discomfort “selling” such things? How did you deal with it?
- Why do you care about the professional development of others?
(I guess this question is especially relevant if you are not paid to do so)
- What am I missing?
Related (?) Links: