Sunday, March 20, 2016

Communication, exasperation, and inspiration- 3.20 #sol16 Story Challenge

This might be a virtual slice of life, or perhaps a slice of virtual life. At any rate, it comes from the world of Twitter, and it's been the trickiest slice for me to capture so far this month.

Amid the ceaseless flow of a chat this morning, I had my first experience with Twitter's potential for sudden riptides. I observed a group of educators get swept up in a thread's intensifying current. The crux, as paraphrased by yours truly: Can teachers collaborate in a spirit of collegiality (as opposed to zero-sum competition) if they must both strive to fulfill curricular mandates and simultaneously make what they're teaching so engaging that students would still come learn if given the choice? Somewhere in there lie ideals worth striving for, I suspect, but not ones conducive to being hashed out within character constraints and without nonverbal cues. Instead, in today's chat tempest, assumptions were perceived, feelings apparently hurt. Any time a participant attempted to clarify a comment merely served to punch more holes in a floundering vessel. One participant typed about feeling "pummeled" by others' judgments.

My take-away now, a few hours later: No communication medium is without its flaws and pitfalls. Experience is teaching me ways to navigate the rising, tumultuous digital tide on Twitter and signaling when I simply need to get out of the water for a bit. I'll get back in, though, because that's proven my best way to learn how to jigsaw content, intent, and digital tools more effectively. For instance, Twitter is excellent for sharing -- less so for debating and persuading, as today reminded me.

9 comments:

  1. "No communication medium is without its flaws and pitfalls. Experience is teaching me ways to navigate the rising, tumultuous digital tide on Twitter and signaling when I simply need to get out of the water for a bit." So true. Sometimes I just have to step back.

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  2. I find observing the tone and unwritten words in twitter so interesting. It's exciting to see the chats get caught up in the energy that minds coming together bring. However, you are right in saying that one has to be careful in proclaiming anything that contradicts the flow of what is being said in these chats. Yikes. There a flaws, just as there is in face to face talk. But, hopefully, what we can learn is how to communicate effectively and with an open mind without making others feel pummeled. A wonderful reflection here ~

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  3. great slice about the world of Twitter chats. You are absolutely spot on with your line, "no communication medium is without its flaws and pitfalls." #truth

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  4. We have talked about this very idea at school as it pertains to teachers being evaluated. When teacher evaluations become the judgement made and the evaluations are the things that could save your job or not, this sharing of ideas between teachers takes on a different life. Will teachers still share ideas and collaborate when another teacher might use your idea and implement it better than you? It becomes a question of ethics, in my mind. I will do whatever I can to best teach my students even if that means risking another teacher using my idea better than me, but I don't know that everyone would have the same answer. Interesting to ponder.

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  5. Wow! I am intrigued by the question you posed. I'm sorry that Twitter took a turn on the discussion; but it does seem to be a very worthy question - food for thought!!!

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  6. You make such great points in this post. Twitter and other digital means of communication enable us to learn so much from each other and yet, there are shortfalls, as you point out. Great things to think about!

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  7. Sounds like it was quite the interesting chat! It calls to mind Dave Burgess' thoughts in Teach Like a Pirate- that we should strive to be "awesome" because being awesome doesn't hurt anybody else. Being the best teacher possible helps your students and can inspire other teachers. There's nothing to be gained by holding back and not giving it your all. I like what Robin commented on above- that sharing with others might make others look better than you in an evaluation, but it is still the ethical thing to do. A few years ago, I went through kind of a dark professional time where I felt caught up in being judged by test scores and evaluations. At some point I decided teaching that way to keep my job was pointless because the job just wouldn't be worth keeping. I didn't become a teacher to bore kids to tears and test prep the live long day. So if that's what I have to do to be a teacher who keeps my job, it's not the job I want to keep. And so I teach like I want to teach, for the most part, in the way that allows me to put my head on my pillow at night without regrets. :)

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  8. Twitter certainly has its benefits and drawbacks. It is so easy to get sucked into discussions and rant a bit - especially over politics (which I did during Canada's election in October and the months before - I did become a wee bit obsessed)
    You sound as if you can balance the challenges there. Thoughtful post.

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  9. Twitter is not a good medium for debating. I agree. I think maybe a Facebook party next time where people can be more clear with what they mean. 144 words can be easily taken out of context.

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