Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Tough Question

Recently my friend Rob Fisher (@RobCFisher), a Principal at a school in Northern Manitoba, asked me to skype in to a group of aspiring school administrators for a few minutes. I was one of three guests he had skype in to talk about being a connected school leader. The question he asked me to consider was to reflect back about how I thought being connected through social media, as I am now, would have affected my role as a Principal. You see, I left the Principalship about 5 years ago to a new career in the Faculty of Education at Brandon University. It has been since that move that I really began to get connected - to explore and use the tools of social media. Rob's request had me thinking and reflecting - how would it have changed me? Has being connected online changed me? Would I still be a Principal?

 Rob's request has prompted me to do some self-reflection (that is having an effect on current events as well). Whether or not I would have stayed on or not is difficult to answer - maybe I would have - my connections through blogs, twitter ... and more - provide a source of many resources, ideas, conversations, provoke thinking & self-reflection, and support. They provide all that now and it has added to my growth as an educator - of course, my experiences in my Ph.D. program has prompted much growth too. That is why it is hard to answer, learning can indeed be transformative and changes in perspective can occur  as a result of a single dissonant or life-changing event. I think most of us, however, grow through our experiences in a cumulative way. My years in admin were ones of great growth, so have my experiences as part of an amazing cohort of people in my Ph.D. program over the past 4 years, so has my almost 5 years in higher education - teaching adult students, as well as working with thoughtful and intelligent colleagues. And, of course, so have my connections made with so many people through my interactions on twitter, blogs, flickr, diigo, instagram, google+, MOOC participation ... Many of my views about education have evolved as a result of these experiences. Whether or not I would still be a school Principal might be a moot point, but if I was connected more as a school Principal, I know my PLN would have provided me, as it does now, with:

  • resources
  • conversation, both to reinforce and to provoke thought: critical, reflective & creative
  • new ideas
  • support
  • inspiration, and
  • fun!

No matter your role, getting connected, building a PLN can be of benefit to you. Let it grow!
(Thanks, Rob - it was a short call, but fun!)

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