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After many happy years on Blogger, Philly Teacher has moved to its own domain!
Come check out the action at: http://mbteach.com
This site will stay up, though the posts have all migrated to the new domain.
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I'm not sure how many of you get emails from NBC's Education Nation, but I get them fairly frequently and was even invited to attend the Teacher Town Hall in Philadelphia (I didn't--instead I attended a locally planned and organized event that connected me with some great people here in Philadelphia).
Right now, NBC's schtick is an essay writing contest for a teacher to win a seat at the Teacher Town Hall in NYC. I am beginning to get tired of the whole thing, so I sent an email in return. Here it is:
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Over the course of the 3 days I found myself in discussions about networking, relationships and learning on more than one occasion. Most discussions concluded with the idea that while networking is invaluable, building relationships is really what matters and is really what we're about.
My involvement in social media over the last three years has taught me the priceless skills of making connections and networking (skills, I would argue, that teachers are deprived of through the nature of current programs within schools of education). I'm an outgoing person, but 4 years ago I would not have had business cards, approached people I'd never met or felt connected to larger conversations enough to pipe up in a conversation while able to bring enough to the table to join in and then sit back and learn.
I've been telling people how much I've learned about networking and I've been following many conversations centered around the networked teacher. In fact, I have been working with a colleague of mine to help her become one. I always tell people that I'm only as smart as the people I know. I know a lot of people.
But is "networking" really what is helping us learn? Is it really what we should strive for?
David Jakes has a great blog entitled The Strength of Weak Ties. I've always loved that name. While searching for the exact link for this post I stumbled across Mark Granovetter's highly influential sociology paper of the same name. (I'm kind of ashamed I'd never heard of it before!) As networked teachers we are connected loosely through social media, conferences and in a more local sense, our Intermediate Units, Regions, Districts, Unions, etc... These connections make us better teachers, they facilitate learning, but when I talk to members of my 'weak ties' network (mostly Twitter) what we really seek are relationships, stronger ties that enable ongoing support and deeper learning opportunities.
When I think of networking in the traditional sense, I think of an exchange, an "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" attitude. Relationships, however, involve a give-and-take with one side sometimes giving more than the other. Relationships involve a giving of self and ideas rather than a give-in-order-to-receive mentality.
Though I began honing my networking skills through the lens of social media, I have begun to build a network here in Philadelphia as well through the work I do for the South Philly Food Co-op and the annual edcamp Philly unconference. Some of the connections I have made are 'weak ties.' They are limited to the skin-deep needs each party has for his or her project. However, many of those ties have bloomed into relationships that go beyond our original purpose. It has made Philadelphia ridiculously small for me over the past year or so.
Similarly, many of the weak ties that I have built through social media still remain weak. Even so, I still value them. These are the people with whom I network because we share similar jobs, viewpoints or interests. However, the more powerful, deeper connections that have blossomed from such weak ties into friendships and professional relationships have and continue to push me as a teacher and helped me discover my own passions and beliefs.
While it's important to maintain those weak ties, let's look beyond networking and begin to build relationships that matter.
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The Reform Symposium! In its third year, this awesome event runs nearly 24 hours a day for 3 days, with keynotes from highly respected educators and presentations from all over the world. Whether you're in Texas or Taiwan, there are presentations happening for your time zone.
Thanks to the organizers, Shelly Terrell, Christopher Rogers, Kelly Tenkely, Lisa Dabbs, Melissa Tran, Mark Barnes, Cecilia Lemos, Clive Elsmore, and Jerry Blumengarten! You can read more about them here.
A big thanks goes to Steve Hargadon as well for setting us up with the Elluminate rooms!
You can tune into the sessions, which will be held using Elluminate, by checking out the schedule. To see what's happening in your time zone, use the tabs on the bottom of the spreadsheet. Links to each room will be posted on the first day of the conference.
You can also follow the hashtags #rscon3 or #rscon11 (people seem to be using both).
To learn more about the presenters, you can check this out.
We are also in need of Elluminate moderators. You can sign up to help here: http://is.gd/ZhnDuj
I will be presenting on Friday, July 29th at 5:00pm EST. I will be discussing video games and what we can learn from them to better plan instruction and design learning experiences.
Come check it out! It's always a good time!
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My recent post on whether or not we should be teaching keyboarding skills invoked a lively conversation. As a follow up, here is a survey to gather some data on who is teaching it and who is not and why or why not. The results will be published in an upcoming Technology Review article by Anne Trubek.
This form is now closed. Thanks for everyone who responded!
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Philly Teacher by Mary Beth Hertz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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