These are real people.

Last week I had the opportunity to meet f2f some amazing people who preciously I had only meet virtually.

A mere virtual community…


canflip crewThese are real people!

And if you are reading this you probably know, it is not either or. It is not a virtual network OR a real one. It is both. My so called virtual network is also a very real one. People that I have been collaborating with online for over 2 years are people who show up in “real life”, our paths cross and connections are strengthened. We share stories, ideas and family photos. And maybe it sounds “cheesy” but I do love the cheese…but we are a community; real, palpable, vital, connected and interdependent. This year #canflip13, our second annual Flipped Class conference, was more than anything for me, a celebration of our community of co-learners.

But my object here, is not to convince you of the blurred lines between the online and real world. My query here is how do I describe, explain, or show people who have not experienced an online community, the incredible value of it? It is possible to do so with words or does a person have to experience it first hand to appreciate the transformative power of it? Is it through sharing real life examples of real people who I now know? Is it by offering opportunities for people to connect themselves? Yes I go to Twitter for information infusion and inspiration, but why I love Twitter, love it, is because of the people there. People who I know, trust and how each of these connections created windows of change into my once isolated and often lonely classroom (inspiration from Chris Wejr’s slides Windows of Change). Each connection a lovely glimmer of light shining in and signaling change this way!

If learning is a social activity with sharing as a key component and teachers are to be lead learners, can we argue that to change we need to learn and to learn we need to connect?

How do we invite teachers to create windows in their classroom walls to allow for connections?
How do we change the closed-door culture and make it the norm to connect and communicate to the outside world during school day?
How do encourage being connected as a “normal” teacher skill, similar to lesson planning?

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. 

                                                                 Bernard of Chartres

7 thoughts on “These are real people.

  1. Carolyn, so well said. I think for me, coming from a predominantly French community (Quebec) I have never experienced so much collaboration. My online community shares the same passions I do..learning and how students learn. How do we invite teachers…we keep on doing what you are doing and that is spreading your passion. Glad to see I am part of your “real people”. Have a great summer Carolyn!

    • Hi Peggy! I am glad you are one of my real people too! I admire you for taking the risk to change your practice and explore new options for your students. And for coming to join us and celebrate all of our learning together was fabulous and amazing!
      I hope you have great summer as well 🙂 It is finally here!!

  2. Carolyn I connect with so much of what you write here and I also struggle with helping others see at least a piece of the light I see. I also know that we have to respect where our colleagues are. I am hoping in my new school I will be able to make a bigger difference with a supportive admin, and some colleagues that are already on my train. Who knows though but what I do know is that things are changing, even if it’s far too slowly than I’d like to see. But change is change, and forward progression is forward progression.

    • Karen after our convo I continue to puzzle over this. Is it just that this works for me at this point in time or is there some universal take away? Why does something so powerful for you and I appear strange and foreign to someone else? Did I change primarily because I was connected or did I become connected as a consequence of change? Does using words like PLN alienate more than help to connect? If I spent less time developing a PLN would i have more time to develop face to face connections? I know I love being connected and how it has pushed me and encouraged me to grow but maybe it is not for everyone?

      I agree change is change. So I am happy to see any steps small or big in new directions and will continue to cheer for!
      So excited for you in your exciting new year ahead!

  3. I think one way to get people to get it is to use Ramsey Musallam’s technique of…how to describe it….tricking people into learning. At his session, he showed us how to get kids to collaborate by getting us to do it, without saying, ok people, collaborate. Now, how to trick people into using Twitter…..working on it.

    • Yes completely agree. People have to just do it not talk about doing it, learn about it second hand or watch someone else do it. People think it is some far flung and far out activity, when really it is just talking to people about stuff you are both interested in in a open way. But yes, how to get them to experience it for themselves? I was trying to think of ways to get people in my district on (we have very few peeps on Twitter), is it school contests?; doing a book chat?; going on as teams? These are the things I will ponder on my morning walk!

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