Growing the conversation

The world of connected educators can be an echo chamber at times, how WILL you grow the conversation so that we bring more people and perspectives along the journey?  This is the topic of #youredustory this week and it was a topic I put forward.  I think I actually need to clarify the question a little because I am referring to the online world of connected educators.  Being connected (online) has grown me tremendously as a learner and an educator and I continue to reach out, evolve, learn and reflect.  However, the land of retweets and +1s can float around the same posts, anecdotes and resources and feel a little stale at times.  Like minded people connecting with like minded people.  What’s not to like?  For me, it is the perspective of the educator who is not an online connected educator that is missing.  I would consider my school to have some of the most amazing educators going round but a recent survey of Primary and Secondary staff revealed the following information about professional engagement.

Survey of Primary staff
Survey of Primary staff
Survey of Secondary staff
Survey of Secondary staff

Now if I look at this data and apply it literally, I get the following analysis.  78.2% of Primary staff and 77.4% of Secondary staff have little or no role in online networks.  Even if I clean the data up a little, it is a really large audience that I am not reaching or who are not reaching out and connecting.  Now for the sake of this post, let’s apply the data to the world.  25% of teachers worldwide have a significant or crucial role in online networks.  75% have little or no role in online networks.  There is a huge portion of the audience missing here and the question is why.  Why are they not reaching out?  Why are they not online?  Why are they not having their say?  This for me is the perspective that is missing from online networks.  This is the perspective that we need to grow.  Now I have my work cut out for me in this regard at work but I am acting as the lighthouse, working to shine a light on great teaching and learning and connecting others.  This is a role that the 25% who are online need to grow.  Kevin Zahner (@zahnerhistory) wrote a great post on how to grow the conversation.  Please read and pass on, especially to those who are not online.  The #YourEduStory blogging challenge is also growing the voice of those who are online and sharpening their perspective and amplifying more voices.

How do we grow the conversation?  For me, it starts with a +1 mentality.  This is not a reference to the world of Google Plus but a reference to Me + 1.  That’s right, connecting one new person with an online or face to face network at every opportunity.  It could be a guest post on your blog or someone you encourage to join Twitter.  Maybe you could amplify their work by interviewing them and uploading it to Soundcloud or inviting them to the next local TeachMeet.  Technology is often the hurdle and for those who are online, it is our responsibility to make sure that this hurdle is removed and the easiest way is to be their online proxy.  Find their hook.  If they are avid readers, maybe start a book club at school and discuss.  Once they are hooked on this, evolve it and take it online.  If they are writers, post a writing prompt (like this one) and have people write a response.  The evolution of this could be a collection of responses that are posted on a school blog.  My school will launch a professional learning blog in a few weeks for this reason.  Professional dialogue and writing need to be promoted at school but most teachers feel that they don’t have enough to say to fill a blog or don’t know what to write about.  A collective blog would take the pressure off.  This blog at my school will also feature the writings and thoughts of students.  What better way to show students what a lead learner you are.

In a nutshell, the best way to grow the conversation is to have the conversation and have it repeatedly.  Find the hook for your colleagues and look for every opportunity to take a +1.

Thanks for reading.

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3 thoughts on “Growing the conversation

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  1. I could not agree Steve about the +1 mentality. I think that it is important when working within a ‘community’ to amplify the community not just yourself. My question thought is about ‘echo chamber’. I really wonder if focusing on this misses the point sometimes. We worry about whether we are in a closed network, when I feel that we miss the real problem, which is WHY we are there at all. If you are there for back slaps, guess what, you are not really going to be engaging in many critical conversations. I believe the issue is HOW we participate and engage. I wonder then if focusing on this we can take the conversation further. Fine we can get others onboard, but unless they have a reason WHY then I am not sure where it will all go.

    Just wondering …

    1. Thanks for commenting Aaron, when I refer to the echo chamber I think of the same voices saying the same things and others just echoing that. What I hope for is different perspectives from people who are encouraged by their PLN to speak their mind and feel confident to be transparent with their learning. This is how new ideas come to life. It is one of the reasons that I value you in my PLN, you will always engage critically with what I share. I need that and want that…growing the conversation maybe isn’t the right phrase here. Maybe critically engaging with the conversation is better. As for the why, it is the why that draws me towards people. Our why is very similar and hence the rich connection. I think I feel a post on “why I connect” coming on.

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