Starbucking: Are You Networking Socially?
“Whether you are e-mailing, texting, liking, Tweeting, Vining, Linking, Tumbling or Starbucking, you are networking socially. The only wrong way to do it, is to not do it at all.”
I recently prepared and shared a presentation in the Ignite format where this quote was part of my speech. I had been thinking quite a bit about the ways in which educators connect, the host of opportunities available for doing so, and the constant stream of messages online, dictating best practices for participants. “What message do I wish to convey?”, I wondered to myself. I want to encourage others to branch out beyond comfort zones and connect in new ways. I want them to realize each connection made deepens the network for all of us. However, I don’t buy into a culture of intimidation, where newcomers are warned to follow unwritten rules that can seem off-putting.
Let’s face it, many, many educators are intimidated by online communication. In fact, I meet these educators in every course I teach. Good, bad or indifferent, shaming them or scaring them back into their isolated lives as teachers is not an option for me (fortunately, there are many kind, patient Internet Ambassadors out there who feel the same way).
My mostly-overlapping social networks run the gamut from “virtual-reality”, to “reality-reality”, and I find each to be valuable in differing ways. All of my networks combine to create a deeper, more meaningful way for me to connect with others in the field of education. Each strand in my network is strong because of those connected to it, and I am thankful for having so many avenues to explore. Whether asking questions on Twitter, chatting with teachers in my secret Facebook groups, posting and interacting with educators on blog posts, having lunch with my 3rd grade teamies, or meeting an ed-loving friend for coffee at Starbucks, I am always amazed at the power of social networking. If you have heard me speak, you have heard me say… there are amazing things going on in classrooms all over the country. Teachers need to reach out and share their talents for the betterment of their students, colleagues and our profession.
When trying something new, I always encourage my adult students to start small, yet dream big. Intimidation is a real fear; one which must be overcome enough for all educators to reach out digitally.
I’m thinking…. (uh-oh!)…. if each of us who are more comfortable in the realm of digital networking were to ‘adopt’ a reluctant educator, we could double the depth of our collective networks. Right?!?? I attended a full-day PD training this week, and the day ended with my hugging the instructor, Phyllis. Seriously, she was THAT GOOD. However, when I asked her how I could “stalk” her online, she responded with a hearty laugh and an adorable southern accent…. “I’m not a tech person, I don’t Tweet!”. Though I have since connected with her on Facebook (a great start!!), I can’t help but wish her positive, enthusiastic, VALUABLE message could be broadcast to more than the lucky few in her PD sessions. Perhaps in time, she and other fantastical folks in education will find their voice online, where they will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of those around them. We only benefit as a profession if many amazing voices are consistently raised to the point of public awareness.
Who are you going to adopt?
Me?? I’m off to stalk Phyllis .