Saturday, August 15, 2009

Personal Connections

Here is the value of Twitter and my RSS reader for me. I was playing around online for about 10 minutes, saw the following and got inspired to write this blog post. I started out by skimming my RSS reader and stumbling across an invitation to check out #steconf on Twitter. Summarized, this is what I gained:
  1. checked out and added one new follower
  2. searched for the hashtag #steconf to find out what was happening yesterday at the Social Technology in Education Conference
  3. Saw this tweet and thought it was worth reflecting on in my blog
As a classroom teacher/facilitator, I think that one of my main jobs is to facilitate personal connections between my students. Or maybe it's because I'm an English teacher and our classes tend to be discussion based. I need my students to think and consider alternative points of view in order to develop their own opinions. So first and foremost they need to get along with and respect each other.

This is particularly challenging for me as my school has about 100 students total in the Upper School. Sometimes it's difficult getting my students past the assumption that they know each other too well. And sometimes it's an advantage for them to know each other so well.

One of the reasons that I have jumped into using web 2.0 tools is because they are an avenue for facilitating these personal connections. I have used discussion boards to not only encourage students who are less likely to speak up during class discussions to voice their opinions, but also to connect different sections of a class so that we could get more opinions and ideas into our discussion of a topic. Of course, blogging and helping form connections with students in other schools is valuable too in gaining a broader perspective, which is so important for my students in their small, insulated school experience.

As a teacher, I want my students to know and discover who they are and who they want to be. In this journey of self discovery, seeing the potentials offered by the experience of others is invaluable. Of course, breaking down stereotypes by recognizing generalizations and assumptions are a means to this end of valuing others. It's not about mastering a particular curriculum or who knows the most. Instead learning is about seeing what others have to offer and whether that insight can help you develop yourself in positive ways toward your own goals in learning and in living a rewarding life.

I learn and gain so much from the social connections that I make online everyday by following others' blogs, skimming tweets on Twitter, and the various Nings that I belong to. Thanks to all of you for sharing yourselves and helping me to develop my ideas and learn new things about myself.


SCMorgan said...

So funny--I was following #steconf on vacation, too:)
I'm looking forward to school, though sorry I won't see as much of you. We will have to plan to get together.
(BTW, we can pull your blogger blog into an FA blog if you want.May be more options in wordpress?)

Mike Rush said...

Hey J,

I found your blog on the NCTE Ning blog group. Great post and lots of good ideas.