Being a connected leader has had two profound effects on me. Firstly, every time I read a tweet or a blog post, it forces me to reflect, whether I want to or not. I can’t help but think about my own practice when I see other educators sharing what they’re doing. The trick is to not feel overwhelmed or inadequate. Take the parts that help and leave the rest behind has become my motto. For example, I’ve read a lot about awards and grades from different people to a point where it has shifted my own practice. Reading posts by Chris Wejr, Alfie Kohn and Joe Bower have certainly given me a lot to think about and encouraged me to make changes. Conversely, I’ve read other posts or tweets that have confirmed my own way of thinking. For example, one day I was following a conversation on Twitter about the use of Class Dojo. I knew very strongly that I could never use a system like that in my school. These are just a couple of examples that show how being connected has affected my way of thinking and, ultimately, improved my ability to lead.
Secondly, I have built lasting relationships with other educators who are passionate about helping kids. I feel that I can’t help but improve as an educator when I hang out with people (online and sometimes in person) like this. All of a sudden there is a group of mentors from all around the world (in some cases) who are willing to share their experiences and expertise. I think that this is what I’ve been struck with most: people (strangers, effectively) are so kind and willing to help. That being said, of course, this connection didn’t happen overnight for me. I’ve had to work at building the connections and it’s something at which I’m still working. When I started on Twitter about a year ago, I knew no one. After about a year, I’ve built a small but extremely helpful PLN.
Having said this, I still have a long way to go and I realize that’s okay. My transformation as a leader has only just begun but, really, that’s the exciting part. I know now that being a connected leader is going to be a fact of life for me and I won’t go back. One area in which I need to work is to provide some contributions to my PLN and, in general, to other educators out there. I need to share more and one way I can do that is by blogging more.
Sometimes I do feel inadequate and anxious when I see how little I’ve contributed but I’ve become better at taking a deep breath and reminding myself that I can do only what I can do. I have to remember that I’m not going be a George Couros or Dr. Justin Tarte but that’s okay. What I ask myself is: Have I become a better educator since yesterday? Have I pushed myself to do better today than yesterday? Most of the time my answer is yes and I’m good with that. Most of all, I have to compare myself to me and not to anybody else. I can certainly learn from others but I’ve still got to be me.