Does every Blogger give a reason for writing his/her blog on the first post? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do feel a need to put something on the screen to form a Mission Statement or at least offer some type of focus for this path I am about to take. After 34 years as a secondary English teacher and now adding three more years as an Adjunct Professor of Education there is one thing that I have enough life experience in to talk about. That would be Snow Days. If there is one thing I look forward to as a New York Educator, it is a good snow storm. A good Snow Day enables us to sleep in late while everyone else goes to work. That is one of the benefits unique to the teaching profession. However, this probably will not offer enough topics for consistent delivery to a blog. Seasonal topics have a limited time to retain interest of the reader. Most people would not have an interest in reading about snow days in July?
That would leave my other education experiences to serve as the stuff of topics. These experiences are not all those of a polished and perfect professional. My career began when education was less of a science and more of a tradition. New teachers were mentored by veterans, many of whom had less training in the latest educational research. I am also not saying that I always did the right thing. It was just the opposite in many cases I did the wrong thing. It was through reflection and research that I began to change. The uncommon commodity of common sense led the way to that wisdom I would seek. There was no internet, so aside from written material in the library, and what were called in- service courses, the only other source was any good teacher willing to share or collaborate. That was the environment in which I began developing my own face-to-face, real-time Personal Learning Network. The skills I needed were simple; Identify the value of a lesson,acknowledge the value of a person with an ability to collaborate. This continued for years. That is the way it was in the day.
Thank God Al Gore came along for then we had the Internet. I don’t know if he invented it, but they both showed up at around the same time. Coincidence? I think not. The Internet added a new dimension to my PLN. I could now use a search engine to search topics for helpful websites. One search could bring 50,000 sites, so with three searches I could clearly spend four weeks reading websites. The internet may have been cooking, but it wasn’t done yet.
After 34 years of teaching I made the decision to retire. I traveled down other paths after teaching, but none served me as well. On a chance meeting with a helpful Nun on a ferry trip to my Fire Island home, I learned of a position teaching Methods classes in a local College. It was perfect. I jumped at the opportunity and soon found myself in need of a great deal of help.I could only hope the Internet became more user-friendly, because ready or not I was going to need it.
As I started out using my computer to explore the internet for material to use in my Methods classes, I discovered a great deal of material, but there was no person to talk to about it. I had email contacts, but that was a slow procedure to exchange ideas. The other problem was that my contact list was very limited. I guess you might say I had no friends or at least professional colleagues. My ability to use search engines exceeded my greatest expectations. I saw myself as a master of information searches, but it was not enough. I needed to talk to somebody about some of this stuff.
I discovered Linkedin after my wife, Joyce, showed me how she posted her resumé and made a number of professional connections. I recognized this as a way to develop professional contacts and share ideas. I found no help in all the existing educational groups, so I decided to start my own, the Technology-Using Professors group. This led to a discovery of Twitter and Four more educational Groups on Linkedin.
I still needed folks to talk to. I found myself throwing out questions and engaging several twitter members in heated educational discussions on a daily basis.Two people who I met through Twitter volunteered to help with an idea to get folks talking about education and archiving the results.Shelly Terrell, Steve Anderson and I have run that idea as #Edchat ever since. Still needing more people to talk to and a place the deposit these links from all of these sources there was one more addition. a Ning site, The Educator’s PLN.
Now I find that I need another outlet for further expression, and more connections. It was a quest for answers that started me on this journey. It is also what drives me to continue further down this path. I have more questions than answers as do most educators. What I have to offer is a wide range experiences of mistakes and successes in education that people can use or not. I plan to ask more questions than offer answers, but I hope to promote thought and discussion. It is my intention to do this on an as needed schedule. I hope to help frame the discussion for improvement of education with a blend of research, collaboration and a little common sense.
Another choice would have been to Blog my way through Julia Child’s cookbook, but that was already overdone, or using the vernacular, well done.