When I think back to my first years of teaching, I can think of a lot of things I did wrong. Things I stressed over that really weren’t important, and big things that were far more important that I didn’t realize I *should* be more worried about. I was lucky enough to have an outstanding mentor, a great colleague across the hall. My sphere of a “couple people” got me through.
A couple of people? Yeah, 2.
Over the years, I became less satisfied. State-testing? It disgruntled me. Innovation in the classroom? It fascinated me. Technology to keep learning real? It drove me. Accepting the way things have always been done? I couldn’t. While these things pushed me to improve, to get better, to learn, they also isolated me. The teacher’s lounge isn’t a place to discuss blogging for kids or talk about getting better. PD? It’s not about making learning authentic, it’s about the most recent program and how to log in. These are sad realities. When I did something ‘different’ , I’d be called out on it. Ever have a colleague tell you, in the middle of the hallway, that you “need to stop with the dog and pony show in your classroom”? I’m sure many of us have been told something similar. It made me question if it was worth it. But, I only became hungry to learn more, do more, improve more. It was never about that, it was about my kids and the kind of learning they deserve. It only made me hungrier.
That hunger? It was fed by Twitter.
Twitter was the key that unlocked new people, new blogs, the latest research. Articles, ideas, people trying new things. Connections. It is easy to get caught up in hashtags, Twitter tools, chats, and all the new lingo that you are exposed to when you get started with Twitter. But, in reality, Twitter is about one thing for me…
My sphere of 2 from my first year of teaching? It’s grown so big now, there is no end to it. I know that there are people out there who are hungry to improve and that we are all part of this great big journey… together. Making learning better for our kids. People who do great things on a daily basis, and people who openly admit when things aren’t so great. People I’ve joined in class projects with, hung out with at edcamps, have Google Hangouts with. People who inspire me. Because learning isn’t always easy and you need people to lean on.
And when you find those people? You’re just grateful.