More than just an echo chamber

It’s 8:58 on a Tuesday night. I’m sitting at my kitchen table with my Laptop open and Twitter pulled up, one tab for Notifications and one tab for the #xplap chat (I know Hootsuite and Tweetdeck can do this in one tab, but this is easier for me). I have a snack next to me and I’m ready for an engaging discussion about gamification in the classroom.

This has been my Tuesday night, almost every Tuesday for the past two years. By this point I know most of the people in the chat and feel like I’m at a point where I can help others in their gamification journey like others helped me a few years ago. I look forward to this chat each week.

This isn’t the only chat I’m a part of. You can find me engaged in Twitter chats on Monday nights at 8 (#tlap and #ksedchat), Thursday nights at 9 (#ditchbook), and the occasional Saturday morning (#leadlap). I love feeling like a part of a community and I glean a plethora of great ideas to implement in my classroom. Being a part of these chats is like hanging out with friends every week. It’s the source of my best professional development.

I’ve started to notice something about these chats. You have a group of passionate educators gathered around a common interest, engaged in a share session of some of their best/most creative ideas. Scrolling through the chat you’ll see affirmations galore, teachers encouraging each other, cheering others along when they start to doubt themselves and generally putting a positive vibe in the world about education. This is phenomenal and there are many days this is exactly what I need. But there’s no push back.

There are times when I need affirmation, but there also times when I need to be challenged. I need someone to tell me when my ideas aren’t on track with my classroom goals. I need someone to ask me deep questions that challenge my stance on classroom issues and helps me solidify my beliefs or alter course to something that will better suit my needs.

How do we prevent the Twitterverse from being an echo chamber where everyone agrees and we never move forward or push the boundaries of what education can be? Maybe it’s the medium itself. 280 characters isn’t enough to engage in a deep discussion.

I also see the value of positive affirmations after a tough day. Is it possible to do both?

We could all use a little grace

A couple of weeks ago I missed a meeting at school. It was one of four meetings I had for various groups I’m a part of. It’s that chaotic part of the year where everything is flying at teachers at once and many of us are trying to just stay afloat. It’s always challenging, but we’ll find ways to get through and start cruising along later in the year.

I know a lot of teachers are feeling this right now. They are feeling the pressure to constantly stay on top of schedules, grading, family lives, meetings, curriculum, and expectations. Everyone is posting reassuring memes on social media to support each other and reminding each other that you don’t need to be perfect, you can’t do it all.

I 100% agree with all of this. Teachers are bombarded with tasks to tackle and things to balance. Every once in awhile things will fall through the cracks, and we need to give one another some grace and respect.

This is where I get on my soapbox. There are teachers who share all of this and then go back to their classrooms and deny their own students that same respect and grace. How in the world can you ask for help filling out your professional development points at the last minute because you didn’t keep up with it all year like you should have (this was me this year) or show up 10 minutes late to a meeting with administrators (also me) because you didn’t understand the new schedule and then count students off for turning in late work (fortunately not me). Or you criticize students who wait until the last second to finish a project but turn an important document to administrators seconds before it’s due.

“We could all use a little reminder that kids have chaotic lives just like we all do.”

We are adults who have control over the majority of our day and yet we are asking developing minds to be more organized, more thoughtful and more together than we are on any given day.

Please don’t read too much into this. I work with amazing colleagues. I’m not trying to call out any one person. I’m just pointing out a trend in education where we hold students to a higher standard than we hold ourselves.

I just think we could all use a little reminder that kids have chaotic lives just like we all do. They could all benefit from a little grace.