Taking a stroll into many conversations around the edu twitter chat world, one may walk away wondering if they are doing an effective job compared to those that they read. It seems that no one is ever struggling. No one fails. Schools are perfect and teaching, while hard, is still perfect. Every student and teacher has “choice”…whatever that is.
That’s the message that is being communicated…”We are all perfect.” I think that the problem with the chat is that when it comes to having reality-based conversations, we have yet to figure out how to keep it real. We’re not sure yet how to communicate about our true selves without losing ourselves and our jobs in the process and that makes for a pretty “vanilla” conversation.
What it boils down to is that when we have chats beyond the typical “tech chats”, we chat around topics…barely scratching the surface of our needs. We answer chat questions as if they were test questions. Heaven forbid that we offend someone. That could be “twitter deathly”, right? (Believe me, I’ve been called “Debbie Downer” on many occasions.) We want to make sure to post the “right” answers because truthfully, when the “truth” is vastly different from what we want…we can’t handle it.
If our intent in a conversation is to challenge ourselves and grow, how can that possibly happen if we aren’t willing to admit our struggles? You can’t grow without facing the truth of your own actions.
Yes, we must be careful to not throw our schools, co-workers, parents or students under the bus. Doing so would be career suicide. However, what is the harm in saying these words…
“I struggle with ______________.”
I won’t pretend that I have all of the answers because I don’t. However, I do have faith in our collective intent and based on the responses that filled my “mentions” last night, I believe that others are ready to truthfully deal with the “chat truth” as well.
As a moderator, I have an idea of where we can start and it begins with holding ourselves accountable for crafting better questions…no different than we expect in a classroom. Don’t craft questions that can be answered with a simple, yes or no. Instead, craft questions that challenge the person on the other end to think deeper and reflect. In essence, your questions should in fact lead to more questions.
As a chat participant, please stop feeling the need to answer with the perfect response. If you have more questions, ask them! It’s okay and you need to know that not every response fits in a perfect A1, A2, A3 format. Sometimes there aren’t straight answers but more questions. For me, chatting isn’t about posting the most amazing “re-tweetable” response but about leaving the conversation with deeper understanding of a topic, myself or my actions.
I cannot speak for my school or district as a whole and I shouldn’t. I can only speak about my role and my own growth. I can talk freely about my successes and struggles without fear of the opinions of others because at the end of the day, the reflection on the other side of the mirror is my own.
It’s about time that we face our truths and handle it.