October 2011 was the first time I seriously considered joining Twitter. Before that, I thought it was just for teenagers, and fans of Will Wheaton and LeVar Burton. Chuck Sandy was giving a lovely presentation about community (which connected to his lovely work with #iTDi) and he said something like, “get on Twitter.” Suddenly, I was interested and I decided to take the plunge. I am thrilled I did. Last year at this time I celebrated my one year anniversary of being on Twitter with a pecha kucha. This year, I’d like to share some of my “wow” moments related to being a connected teacher. It just so happens that Barb Hoskins Sakamoto (also of #iTDi) recently asked about wow moments in professional development, as related to growth after connecting with other teachers online for her RSCON4 keynote. I can’t promise that my whole list will fit nicely into that request but perhaps some will. I’d love to hear your wow moments in the comments (or in your own blog post—consider this a challenge). I am listing 24 moments (one for each month) but there is no particular order or rhyme or reason for the ordering. Also, I apologize in advance for the fact this post is a bit name droppy and for the fact that I cannot list all the names I *should. Another apology could be for repeating some stuff I have written previously but I think we can agree to overlook that. There also might be a few in-jokes here, and that could warrant an apology as well (my best advice is to just move to the next one if you can’t figure out immediately what I am on about.) The final apology could be that I am writing from memory and as such things are a bit hazy.
- I got on a bus for an educational tour before the CAMTESOL conference this year and @nakanotim said something like, “You are Mike, right?” This was nice for the ego (nice to be recognized!) but also a good chance to meet a cool person that I have been lucky to have a lot of laughs and interesting conversations with both on and offline since.
- @gotanda said hello in a similar manner at the JALT International Conference in 2012. I am looking forward to seeing him at the 2013 conference. My mission is to find out where he is from as he has avoided my questions thus far. I think he was the first “stranger” to say hello in this fashion. It was pretty cool and was a bit of wow moment. Actually people at JALT were super nice and friendly. I am willing to admit they are generally nice and friendly but I also think having a connection to some folks online helped other people open up and be more friendly. This is just a theory but I was so impressed with how nice people were I needed to develop an explanation.
- I took quite a few classes for my MA online. One lasting memory was when I went to a party and got a big hug from someone that was saying “Miiiikee!” with a big smile. I hugged her and then found out who she was. It was a magical moment for me to get this hug from a “stranger” and then discover that I already knew her very well.
- @worldteacher deserves very special mention(s)! I have written about this before but a memorable moment for me was when I was doing a presentation in Daegu in 2012 and she sent me a message to the effect of “Good luck and have fun” just before my presentation. This was poignant for me because in 2011 I had done a presentation there (it is about 2 hours away from where I live) and it seemed that only 5 people outside of those who went to the presentation knew or cared about the presentation. This was a key moment for me to see that people do care and are ready to connect. Thanks Andrea!
- While we are on the Andrea run here I will say that I had a blast with her and @cioccas at the CAMTESOL Conference. It was great to meet them in person and while I felt that I already knew them well from#ELTchat and #AUSELT and general fun around the ELT blogosphere it was great to meet and talk to them. I also had the great pleasure of helping them out in their excellent presentation about being a connected teacher.
(I was in charge of clicking the slides and even said a few words). You can see a picture of us here!
- If my memory is correct I think @naomishema sent me a similar message before the presentation I mentioned in point 3. I was amazed that someone so far away from Korea would take the time to wish me well.
- Giggly Skype chats with @vickyloras.
- This picture. Extremely #KELTchat-ty.
- Presenting with KELTchatters (@JosetteLB, @AlexSWalsh, @AnneHendler, and the @breathyvowel with help from @JohnPfordresher) about KELTchat at the 2012 KOTESOL International Conference.
- Speaking of KELTchat, I’d also like to mention there is a nice KELTchat Facebook Group. I tend to
dislike, err hatedespise FB groups in general but I enjoy being a member of this group. Just last week a discussion related to a blog post of mine occurred and people didn’t always agree on everything but they were respectful. On the Internet! On Facebook!! This was one of the many wow moments I have had being involved with KELTchat in different ways and on different platforms. It is great to see respectful and positive discussions are possible on such pages.
- The first time I read @Ben_Naismith‘s blog and wondered, “Who is this Canadian and more eloquent and clever version of me writing about things that I wanted to write about before I do?” This was a real wow moment for me. If my memory is correct the first words of his I ever read were, “Now are you going to read this blog post or lick the screen?” in his excellent post about ICQs. At that time I happened to be writing a post about ICQs and I was thoroughly impressed with the line and the post. The wow factor was a bit more than though, because up until that point I kinda wondered if I might be the only teacher/trainer in the world harboring some doubts about ICQs. It is a simple thing, but Ben’s post helped me see that there are like minded people all over the world, working in places as different from Korea as Costa Rica.
- After mentioning like-minded I *should mention “Evidence Based EFL” because we are not always of a similar opinion. I have enjoyed reading his blog and exchanges in the comment sections of both our blogs as well as the occasional google doc discussion and email exchange as well. I obviously appreciate like-minded people but it is nice to disagree in a polite manner with someone with very different views.
- I have been known to disagree with the musings of @TheSecretDoS from time to time but I also appreciate his/her respectful tone when faced by such disagreements from me and others. Additionally aha (and wow) moments have come from observing how much someone that is obviously so knowledgeable manages to question things so deeply and frequently (not to mention eloquently and thought-provokingly). Wow moments aplenty from reading and pondering the prose in the posts as well.
- In the very early stages of my blog, LEARNing human @tonygurr reblogged a blog post of mine. To be honest, at that time I didn’t even really know what a repost or a reblog was. Actually, to be very honest, I still don’t know. But I can say this was a special moment for me to have such a prolific and respect worthy writer share my post. It gave me a lot of motivation to keep plugging away at this blogging stuff but also gave me a nice role model of how to help and support others, especially those new to the blogging game. I guess the wow moment here was how beneficial a bit of support and motivation can be. Thanks again, Hocam.
- I have learned a few words in different languages. The final word (assuming I got it right?) on point 14 is an example. Beijos e abraços would be another example. There are many more. It is fun and cool to pick up such things from teachers around the world.
- Even more than just a few words, I feel I have had wow moments all the time when noting similarities and differences between teaching English in countries around the world. There have been times when things I thought were just in Korea and Japan but then discovered were commonplace around the world. Unfortunately most of these things were negative, but it is is nice to know we are not alone with these issues in Northeast Asia. The reverse is learning about teaching contexts from around the world. I feel this has given me a much broader understanding of the field.
- Simply put, without being connected on Twitter I can’t imagine how I would have friends and collaborators from and in places so far away and different from Korea like Iran, Finland, Kuwait, Peru, Reunion, Serbia, Hungary and Brazil. This is related to the previous point but I think it is a separate point (hey, it is my list and I need 24!) because Twitter and being connected online has helped me connect with people that I couldn’t otherwise connect with. From there the learning and thinking and growing comes.
- I mentioned meeting people from all over the world. This has been wonderful and a great learning experience, for sure. I am also very pleased I am connected with @MicaelaCarey. We took an EVO course (I think it was on lesson planning) a few years back and during the course sent a few emails back and forth. After being connected for nearly 5 years (?!!) I have realized we have some similar interests and thoughts on things like comedy, language, politics, food (including kimchi) and 90’s nostalgia. We grew up in places that were not so far from each other and it is fun to see that we connected over ELTgeekery but seem to have a lot in common.
- The laughs and comedy associated with #AlexWalshs40 at last year’s KOTESOL conference.
- I am connected to so many positive (or at least positive seeming!) people online it is now very strange and uncomfortable for me when I meet someone face to face that just wants to bitch about teaching. I am extremely grateful for knowing such positive and forward looking people online. It has helped me see I don’t need such negativity in F2F interactions and has helped me see there are tons of positive people out there.
- The wow moments just keep flowing when I see people like @swisssirja (aka Swiss Ninja–and she’s not even Swiss or a ninja) write about their teaching practice and the associated trials and tribulations and pains and gains.
- The times I have asked for example sentences on Twitter and received brilliant examples almost immediately. This really made me think about how powerful the tool can be. Perhaps I could have googled (or corpused) it but the sentences I got were clever and funny and showed exactly how these real people would use the word that I asked. I think i just wrote something like, “How would you use ____ in a sentence?” and the magic started flowing in.
- Semi-related to 22 is the wow moments associated with seeing how well crowd-
surfingsourcing can work. As you may know, I am a big fan of #ELTpics. (Here is something I wrote on the ELTpics blog) I think it is amazing how such a valuable resource can be created and shared from people around the world. I think this is a great example of creating value one little bit at a time and I think there is a lot to learn from initiatives like this. I think it is a great model and I excited to see similar things come into fruition in the future.