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.