Knikole Taylor is a learner for life! She works as an Instructional Coach/Developer, and is an advocate for ALL learners. She believes in leading to learn. She resides in Dallas, TX and is a wife and mother. You can find her on Twitter at @knikole or at her website at www.knikoletaylor.com.
Thursday, December 3rd, I was able to launch #webochat for my school district. The purpose was simple, I wanted to start the conversation about becoming a connected educator. I wanted to be THE catalyst for others around me to learn, grow, and share with others in our district, our state, and the world of education.
The chat was successful, and I was feeling really good. Then, this happened:
Shana White made the above comment. This was it! This was the true purpose of launching #webochat simply stated in one Twitter post. I want to inspire others to leave their islands.
After working in education for 13 years, I finally left my island in February of this year. During a monthly #TABSEchat, someone mentioned Edcamp. The idea of sitting in a room with like minded forward thinking educators had all of my attention. I was immediately on board and began an eye opening journey that I pray never ends.
First of all, I will admit there is a certain level of comfort that comes with staying on your island. There is safety in staying close to home, attending training with those that you know, waiting on your supervisor to tell you what you need to learn, where to go to learn it, and what to do with it when you get back. There is safety in remaining on your island, but there is no growth there. To be honest with you, I wasn’t even really on Twitter at that time. I simply used it to connect with our state level affiliate of The National Association of Black School Educators, NABSE, once a month. There was always great conversation and ideas that were shared in the chat, but I cannot say that I ever put anything into practice once the chat ended. However, all of that changed in February.
After the chat, I began to research about Edcamp. I wanted to know what it was, how it originated, and how to have one soon near me. At that time, I hadn’t even attended an Edcamp, but I was sold. I reached out to the one of the founders of Edcamp, Kristen Swanson, and she quickly answered all of my questions. After attending Edcamp Houston, I was sold. I immediately dove off of my island, and there is no turning back.
Perhaps you are looking for ways to take that first step. I would like to suggest some successful moves I have made to help me move from my personal island.
Join a Twitter Chat Twitter is an excellent resource for teachers. There is a list of chats found here that outline all types of educational issues and interests and occur from Sunday through Saturday. Find a group of like minded or different minded people, and learn from them. Edcamp Southwest Dallas was a direct result of a chat. If you are new to Twitter or need help learning how to navigate a chat, you can find Twitter help here.
Join or create a Voxer Group Voxer is a messaging app. It allows you to share text, voice messages, and images with others. I am a member of several groups that each lend something to my work as an educational leader. From academic coaching to equity in education, there are groups of people who will push you to be your best.
Listen to a podcast A podcast is a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or portable media player, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically. My all time favorite podcast is Edumatch. Each podcast is only 30 minutes, each time I listen, I am able to find something that I can immediately use.
Attend an Edcamp Edcamp is a free “unconference” committed to reaching all educators in public, private, charter, and higher education with innovative learning using pioneering technologies and instructional strategies to transform teaching for all students. No keynotes and no vendors on site. It is a day focused on the learning. Edcamps are the perfect forum to learn new things and share new things with eacher teachers. Here is a list of upcoming Edcamps.
Now, there is no point in leaving your island unless you are going to put all of your new ideas into practice. I am frequently looking for new ways to reach students and personalize the coaching experience of teachers I support. After each interaction with my Personal Learning Network, or PLN, I sit and plan my next steps. I always keep my little book handy to jot down the ideas they share and find at least one thing I can use soon. I map out a plan of action complete with dates to put my thoughts into action
This year, I have met amazing people from coast to coast and north to south who are eager to learn just like me. They continue to amaze me and have become my Personal Learning Network, my “people”. Instead of being contained with the learning of my building and my school district, I have an entire network of learners and doers I am able to call on and learn from any time of the day or night. I am amazed at the things I have been able to experience this year as a result of simply leaving my island. Not only have I experienced unprecedented professional growth, but I am able to share the things I have learned with many others. Over the past ten years, I have been able to share and learn from many educators. Now, one of my goals is to inspire others to move from their island.