That University Feeling

When I left the University of Victoria to embark on my teaching career, I had just spent 5 years surrounded by other students, all there for the same reason: to learn, to share and to grow.  I loved being around like-minded people, with whom I discussed big issues like politics, religion, health care, the economy and of course, education. I always had the means to learning at my fingertips or in the coffee shops and campus pubs. To me, there is nothing like the feeling of being part of that group of young, motivated, eager and enthusiastic learners, sharing ideas, experiences and knowledge… and having a little fun mixed in there too.

I left University and ended up having to travel quite a distance to get my first teaching job in Drumheller, AB. Over the course of the last 8 years I have enjoyed many great experiences as an educator, working in exciting buildings with amazing educators and learning a great deal. Even in the midst of developing as an educator, and the excitement of my new career, it did not take long to realize that I was no longer amongst the same group of people I had spent the last 5 years with.

Happy in my new role as teacher, I still had a void that I found very difficult to fill. I didn’t have that peer group with whom I could discuss the latest world issues. I didn’t have four library floors of journals, books and magazines that provided the answers to many questions or the direction for a topic of study. I didn’t have professors that I could ask questions of or converse with. I was no longer immersed in that culture, no longer part of that critical mass, no longer a campus coffee shop away from enthralling conversation or collaborative learning.

Over the past few years I seemed to let that time of my life go. I romanticized it as the “Good Ol’ Days” and reminisced about the pinnacle of my time as a learner, often boasting about how “there was nothing like it”. I would spend time thinking about going back to school, probably for my Master’s, but knew it would probably end up being by distance or online courses and that it would never be the same as that special time in my life. I started to think that it was a time when I really felt alive, but a feeling I would never get back.

Well it was late this last August that George Couros, a man many of you know of quite well now because of things like blogs and Twitter, introduced ME to blogs and Twitter. It was that conversation and the subsequent 2 months of experiment, connection and collaboration that has once again brought me back to that “University Feeling”. I connect with so many passionate educators on a daily basis, discussing issues, sharing resources and stories, all because of this new-found connection to Social Media. I may not share a cup of coffee or University class with these people, but I do have the opportunity to hear their stories and ideas, to offer them mine, and together we share, we learn and we grow. I feel alive again, I feel I am once again learning and growing, and it energizes me as I go each day and ask the same from my students.

Need a reason for blogging? For joining Twitter? For getting involved as an educator with Social Media to build your own Personal Learning Network? I can’t think of a better one.


3 thoughts on “That University Feeling

  1. Hey Jesse,

    It’s funny you mention that “University Feeling”. Having my Tweetdeck open to many hashtags and connecting with teachers around the world creates a sense of community and comradeship as I sit alone working away on my computer (an iMac, also popular at university). Suddenly, finding more resources than I could hope for and reading opinions about the ever-changing world of education, is not so far away. It’s just like University, where you could always find someone who has new ideas that inspire or help you pass that next Genetics 201 mid-term.

    There are a few important pieces of wisdom that stuck in my head as I left that Education Faculty behind a few years ago. Your blog brought back one in particular. “You will never survive by teaching on an island”. I’m sure many of us have heard one version of this or another, but it couldn’t be more true as technology changes the methods in which we teach and our students learn. I’ll admit, sometimes I enjoy teaching on an island for a few days and shutting out the rest of my colleagues, Twitter and Facebook (kicking my wife off of the island hasn’t really worked out for me). Then, I get that old “University Feeling” again. I can’t wait to start working and connecting with other teachers right from my office, because I know I am going to become inspired and learn a few new things once again.

  2. I enjoyed reading this as I have felt guilty about starting up with social media. It seemed like a sad attempt to make up for my lack of popularity in Jr. High. But it’s become a venue for me to connect with bright people who are asking important questions about learning.

  3. Pingback: A Short Conversation with…Jesse McLean @jmclean77 « Against the Wind

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