I am a connected educator. No, seriously, I'm super-connected. I own a smartphone, several tablets, a Chromebook, a laptop, and yes a desktop too, among other devices. I am on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and of course Twitter. I have a PLN that is really fantastic, and I even eclipsed 1000 followers a while back. I know followers aren't everything but it was still a cool milestone! I listen to (and watch/interact with) lots of podcasts like Techlandia, Teachercast, Principalcast, and many more. I even listen to educational podcasts while I'm running. Ever since the beginning of 2013, when I decided to use Twitter as a PLN, I've been immersed in so many ubiquitous technological social media offerings (which have completely revolutionized my career btw), that I can hardly remember, or imagine where I would be without them. I love being connected.
As I said previously, Twitter is amazing. The connections I've made, and continue to make are fantastic. I also have an addictive personality. I don't do anything half-speed. So when I decided to give this PLN thing a shot, I went all out. Heck, it took me months before I could allow myself to not read every tweet on my Twitter timeline and just check in when I could. I also had a serious case of FOMO and wanted to reply and connect to every great tweet and idea I came across. The more people I followed (I believe in the unspoken follow back rule for edus) the more amazing thoughts and ideas I read. I could hardly contain my enthusiasm and energy. The information and energy was snowballing each and every day. Twitter chats? YES! So many chats! I was brimming with ideas and information.
I am also a husband to an amazing woman, and a father of 2 pretty special girls, soon to be 3. I can't lie, lately it has been really tough to keep up. I honestly don't know how some people do it. (This is not a judgment or negative comment) I freely admit, I spend a lot of time on my devices. I feel like I manage it, but I am online and connecting all the time. Even then, it is a challenge to stay "connected," particularly on Twitter, and also keep a balance. I work on a computer most of the day, every day. I have lists on Twitter, and feel as though I'm pretty efficient in how I check in on the myriad of social media offerings. But it is hard... nearly impossible I dare say. I am amazed at the volume and frequency some are able to tweet & interact 7 days/week. It is truly mind boggling to me. I wont' even get into creating a "brand" or trying too hard to be liked. That can be another post. I can't be that person. I love what I do, but I love my family too.
Fortunately, I've been blessed and inspired by some very powerful blogs written by some fellow educators whom I have grown to respect greatly. They have moved me to not only regulate and moderate my time connecting online, but also encouraged me to write about it. Because of great posts like this one by @msvictoriaolsen, I am not going to chase follower counts, nor will I only engage with users who have lots of followers. Instead I'll seek out those who interact regularly & also challenge me. Thank you Victoria.
Because of authentic and real posts like this one, or this one (or a myriad of others) by @newfirewithin, I will constantly remind myself to take a deep breath and not get to consumed by all of this. My job is ... well, a job. I love it, but I won't let it define me. I also won't let others' words define me. Thank you Justin. I don't think you understand how profoundly you have impacted my life.
Additionally, posts like this one by @mcleod will inspire me to focus my time and energy on my daughters and find their interests. I will then advocate for their education and learning, but will also support and encourage them at home. They too are makers, and I want to ensure they continue with that youthful passion, energy, and creativity, despite the educational "system" challenges that they will face. We can work tirelessly to change/improve the system, but we also have to make a difference where we are. As parents and educators, we need to make an impact where we are, because that will make all the difference!Thank you Scott.
Last, but not least, a long, long overdue mention and credit for inspiration goes to this post, by @RafranzDavis. Thank you for reminding me that we need to have balance! It is OK to not attend every Twitter chat, or watch that video/podcast. It's OK not to attend every conference. Life is short, and we can't get time back with family. It is OK to work hard and do our very best for our staff and students. But the most important thing is family. Thank you Rafranz! I'm honored to connect with you.
I could go on and on about great educators and great blog posts that inspire me every day, but there are too many to list! This also isn't one of those knee jerk "I'm quitting Twitter" posts, or anything like that. Twitter is an invaluable tool. More importantly, it is a reminder for me, and hopefully some of you, to unplug and be present to our families. Everything else will still be there when we reconnect. Authentic connections will persist regardless of how often we post. Opportunities will continue to abound.
I'll end with a quote by Ferris Bueller and inspired by @theprofspage : "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Thanks Melinda. I'm blessed to know you.
Merry Christmas everyone. Don't be afraid to unplug...