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:
Even though I am in the middle of a crazy two weeks of teacher training I was able to find some time to have a drink and a chat with some former course participants (and one more friend) last night because of today’s national holiday in Korea. It was great to see them and I thoroughly enjoyed it. They are all experienced Korean English teachers and it was great to talk to them and to catch up on what is going on with them and English education in Korea.
One of the teachers is on Twitter (partially due to my recommendation it seems) so the topic of Twitter naturally came up. I am generally a bit leery about putting on the hard sell about Twitter even though I am a believer. Mostly I just don’t want to pressure people that are already busy enough to do something that might not work for them. Hmm, maybe this is a bit of foreshadowing for a future blog post. So, anyway, we were talking about Twitter and discussing how it works and how it is different than Facebook and a few other related topics. Somehow the idea to do a little experiment came up and I tweeted the following:
Why should Korean english teachers join twitter ? They are here with me now lets see what people say
About a minute later I added:
please somebody respond quickly they are demanding evidence
(they were/are a very tough crowd)
Then the responses started flowing in. We were all very impressed with the quality of the responses. The variety of responses and locations people were tweeting from were noteworthy too. I also thought it was wonderful and amazing that people who I have never met (OK I’ve met one of them face-to-face) took the time to respond in order for complete strangers to see the power of Twitter. #Gratitude
What exactly did people say?
- I’ve found many good resources through Twitter, and it was really a lifesaver last year.
- Because it’s the best way to expand their PLN & learn about the latest developments in the world of TEFL!! …..& it’s fun!
- isnt it more “who shouldn’t be on twitter?” at this point?
- because you can connect to fellow teaching professionals throughout the world. A treasure trove of advice is there!
- Because we get to meet and learn from cool people like
@michaelegriffin here! 😉
(At this point giggled a bit and my friends made some “wow” like sounds)
- how about some of this?: http://bit.ly/Nwz5VC
- You can meet other people an practice your English! You can ask other ppl q’s and share your ideas too.
- if slang / idioms used to be a focus of “real english” isn’t microblogging now an awesome way to see how young folk “talk”?
(At this point I added how lots of Korean stars/athletes tweet in English and this is a great model and quite interesting for Ss to see)
- 18 months ago I would have agreed with them. How I have been proven wrong. Best decision I ever made was to join twitter. (When I demanded more details this same kind soul added what follows) I’ve discovered endless resources on PD, RP, Dogme, lexicology, Also
#KELTChat 🙂 I’m part of a fantastic, supportive PLN. plus twitter is worth it simply for the links I see for access to free webinars with wonderful teachers eg #iTDi
(And someone else added)
not to mention the opportunity to create their own community of teachers and learners.
- Twitter removes the barriers between people so we can learn together. Hello from Calgary, Canada!
After a few responses my friends seemed very impressed and two of them expressed real interest in joining up. The most skeptical commented that asking for responses like that was a very successful experiment. Thanks so much for the ideas and help. I really appreciate it.
I wonder what other thoughts/links/whatevers you might add?
Please feel free to include them in the comments.
PLN=Personal Learning Network. (Nice explanation here)
(Also explained as Personal/Passionate/Professional/Public learning network)
PD= Professional Development
RP = Reflective Practice
(I’d also recommend following these folks when/if you join twitter!)
I have decided to add related links as they fly by my screen.
Another new discovery is this post and I think it is helpful for those considering getting involved with Twitter.
For another perspective and reasons to join, read how joining Twitter is like suddenly discovering an extra room in your house.
The ever prolific, insightful and readable Larry Ferlazzo on The best ways ESL/EFL/ELL Teachers Can Develop Personal Learning Networks.
Tom Whitby on Building a professional learning network on Twitter.