Reflection has been the learner profile trait of the last couple of weeks here at LCS so I thought it fitting that I take a few moments to look back at the first two months of #AfricaEd and what I’ve learned. So here’s my list, in no particular order.
Developing and maintaining a Twitter chat is a lot of work. I have to admit, I really had no idea what I was getting into when I started this. I had participated in a few chats and was amazed by the value of the conversations and the development as a professional that they offered me. I saw the potential in a chat that connected educators in Africa and I simply went for it. I researched an available hashtag, threw together a quick website and started promoting the chat on Twitter and through Facebook groups. For some reason I thought getting it started would be the hard part and then it would cruise along by itself. Its so much more than that though.
The process has stretched me as a professional as I’ve worked to establish a community of educators, continued to find ways to promote the chat and looked for intriguing and productive topics. It has been a fantastic two months of growth for me. I’ve connected with educators from around the world, learned new skills and implemented several new ideas in my classroom thanks to the development of the chat. It something that couldn’t be done on my own and I’m thankful to the entire community of educators that have suggested topics, moderated chats and simply been supportive as we’ve gotten this started.
Opportunities presented by a global PLN are endless and go well beyond my own benefit
Since going full force into the world of Twitter, I’ve not only grown on my own, but I’ve managed to be a help others as well. For me, that’s an even better feeling.
Jessica Raleigh (@TyrnaD) of Colorado presented to our secondary school faculty here at Lincoln Community School via Google Hangouts about the potential and uses of Google Hangouts in education.
Our KG class just yesterday participated in a Skype conversation with a class in Canada where they discussed holiday traditions and shared seasonal songs with each other. Our students here even got a glimpse of snow thanks to the magic of Skype and they’ve got plans to continue the conversation in the next semester.
My own grade 8 students created videos about Christmas in Ghana and their home countries to exchange with connections made in Ethiopia and Canada.
The counseling department here at LCS is working to create a chat for international school counselors in the coming semester. (Full disclosure, that department includes my wife.)
There have also been several times when retweets have helped to connect colleagues and I’ve been able to sit back and watch a beautiful conversations develop.
Then there are the innumerable resources that have been selflessly shared with me and I’ve passed on to colleagues. What if the whole of education worked this way…
There are a lot of positive, progressive teachers out there
Every morning there are an amazing amount of teachers in the States dragging themselves out of bed at 5:30 am (EST & MST) to participate in the conversation on #BFC530. In fact, there are also people on the other side of the world staying up late to join in as well. Its an amazing dose of positivity and inspiration that thanks to time differences comes to me around my second cup of coffee. It was that positivity and sense of community that inspired me to take the leap and create #AfricaEd. I still love to jump in with #BFC530 anytime I can as my class schedule allows. Its a constant source information and hope.
Our own conversations on #AfricaEd have the same sense of positivity and have sparked some fascinating discussions. I’ve got a reading list a mile long and so many ideas to pursue I had to get a notebook to start a short and long term to do list. The community of educators on Twitter here in Africa seems to be a bit smaller, but the schools they represent are pushing the envelope of progress and creating amazing experiences for their students.
Then there are the plethora of other education chats that have the provide endless amounts of inspiration and resources. Just to plug a few I’ve come across: #aussieEd #NT2t #asiaEd #INZpirED #satchat #geniushour It can be hard to choose where and when to participate there are so many excellent conversations out there.
I’m thankful for the opportunity that developing this chat has presented me and I look forward to the challenge of keeping it productive and relevant. I could ramble on about the power of these chats and the experiences I’ve gained over the past two months and there are probably those here at my school who feel like I do. I’m ok with that though. I feel strongly that this is a major part of the future of education. Global collaboration and sharing of resources has the potential for exponential growth of our profession and in turn of our students. I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited to be a teacher and to see what the coming year will bring.
I’m excited about the network that is building here at #AfricaEd. We may not have overwhelming numbers of people in our chats right now, but I feel like there is a definite quality in the discussions. I think an important part of continuing this for the long term will be building that sense of quality and community.
I’m happy to have a small, core group of contributors if it means we have quality conversations that allow us all to grow and learn. This isn’t to say that I’m not looking for the chat to grow and include more people. Quite the opposite. I hope we continue to grow and those involved will share the experience with their colleagues. I also hope that along the way we will get more than just the international school’s perspective of education here in Africa. But ultimately, I think the quality of discussion and learning is much more important than quantity of participants. So I’ll continue to look for ways to get more educators involved in our chats, but I also want to focus on keeping those who helped us get started.
Finally, I continue to be amazed by the unselfishness that seems to exist within the world educators utilizing Twitter. I’ve seen so many people over the past several weeks and across several different chats, handover incredible amounts of resources. Not just a worksheet or two, but months worth of planning documents and implementation tools. This is what education and professional development should be about. This is how we develop innovation and creativity in our schools. By selflessly sharing the things that work. Because they work and because, in the end, it really is about the students.
In Ghana, Akwaaba means welcome. I’m more than happy to extend the greeting to all that have been a part of this fantastic first week of #AfricaEd.
Tuesday marked the first edition of #AfricaEd. I honestly had no idea what to expect and was prepared to watch my Twitter feed stare back at me blankly throughout the day. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Thanks in large part to my friends at #BFC530 who threw their support behind me with a simulchat to help launch and the support of the Association of International Schools in Africa who published an article promoting our chat, as well as all who participated, I think I can call it a success.
We had two chats this week and each produced some good conversations. Connections and ideas have been created and shared along with a few laughs. One of the fantastic aspects was not only the global connections, but the ones that were made within my own campus at Lincoln Community School. Funny how it works that way sometimes.
Now comes the work to see if we can continue to create a true community of educators. I hope that as the chat continues we will not only grow our community of international schools and educators but also find ways to gain perspective from local teachers and education leaders in our communities. I think that’s where the conversation could get really interesting.
So thanks to all of you who participated, looked in, browsed the site, thought about it and supported it. I look forward to making more connections in the weeks, months and years to come.
Below is a map created from a quick scan of participants in this week’s chat.
Welcome to #AfricaEd a Twitter chat focused to those working on the African Continent. Whether you are an international educator or working in a local school, I hope that you will join this new PLN to learn, share and borrow ideas from educators across Africa and the world.
#AfricaEd will be a slow chat. Starting out, we’ll have chats just twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday. Questions will be posted at 7:00 am GMT on each day. Respond any time and as much as you please throughout the day and follow #AfricaEd to enjoy the conversation. You might not get an immediate reply, but you should get one eventually. We cross a few time zones, so we’ll see what happens.
This is about building a community of educators. Be active to get the most out of it. Join the conversation, suggest a topic, even moderate for a day. But if you’re new to Twitter or chats, feel free to just follow along until you’re comfortable. Just know that we definitely want to hear from you.
Tips for being a part of the conversation.
- Always remember to add #AfricaEd to your tweets (I like to copy and paste, its quicker)
- Reply directly to others for 1:1 conversations
- Retweet and Favorite good ideas to share and save for later
- tag others in the conversation by using their Twitter handle
- join in
- and as my kids constantly remind me “sharing is caring“
If you are interested in helping coordinate and organize please let me know.
Thanks to @j_iglar, @TyrnaD & @ScottCapro and all the #BFC530 crew for the inspiration to get this started.