@terryainge and Pacer Post). He was relatively new to it also, but was describing the benefits, saying that Twitter was the best Professional Development tool he had come across, since it helped him stay informed and connected at any time of day. He described Blogging as a means of formulating and articulating more clearly some of his philosophical beliefs about education. I had some time over the break a year ago to play around and attempt to learn what benefits the two social media tools could provide me, and admit to becoming hooked almost immediately.
Just over one year has passed since my introduction and I still do not use Twitter like I could, only rarely finding the time to "Tweet" about an article I have read or a link to somebody else's blog. I do, however, use it as a "voyeur", and it helps me stay informed with the most recent articles, thoughts and discussions on many topics within education. I have yet to participate in an #edchat or other Twitter discussion hashtag, but have been an interested on-looker and can certainly see the value. I have spread the word about the use of Twitter for the purposes of Professional Development with our staff, and have managed to get a few teachers to join in. A commitment I am making to myself for the upcoming year is to get more actively engaged with all that Twitter can provide, becoming more willing to participate in the discussions, share my beliefs and challenge the thinking of myself and others.
While I have not yet taken full advantage of all that Twitter has to offer, Blogging has been much more meaningful for me. On December 21, 2010, I posted my first entry, about the Seniors Brunch, an act of social responsibility our school has been engaged in for the past 12 years. I found the process of writing about it very valuable since I was forced to synthesize more clearly all that I saw as important in the things we do at school. I have long had some general ideas about what is important, and some vague answers to the question, "Why do we do what we do?" Blogging has forced me to think more deeply about what is important, and made me take the vague philosophies I have, and make them more specific, and in some ways, more measurable (though measuring all that is important in schools is a hot-button topic for a future post). Writing for an audience is very good for forcing people to put more thought and specifics to what may have been vague ideas, and some staff at our school are now using blogs with their students for those very reasons.
Shortly after writing that first post, I took the time to reflect on all that my good friend, Lorne Bodin, has taught me over the years we have known each other. His fight with cancer, his passing in early January, and my family's attempts to support his family, still occupy my thoughts daily. Blogging about him was a form of therapy, and it served as a great communication tool for sharing information about his Celebration of Life and the Photos from the event.
Since that time, I have returned to blogging about the goings-on within our school and community, writing with great pride about the amazingly talented staff and students who continue to overcome obstacles to produce and be responsible for impressive feats of socially-responsible behaviour, academic achievement and extra-curricular excellence. Admittedly, much of what I write about is little more than school newsletter material, but I find even that serves a valuable purpose. As the Principal of a school, it is important that I am aware of the things occurring in our building, and if I am hoping to influence some change and/or improvements in how we go about our business, then one of the most effective methods for encouraging this growth is to celebrate the positive examples already happening. While some see Blogging as a tool for challenging thinking and posing questions (which it is), I fully intend to continue using my blog as an on-line journal, celebrating the accomplishments of our school, in hopes of expanding the pockets of excellence that I see.
As I grow more comfortable with my role and the use of the tools, however, I hope to be able to push the limits of my social media use, encouraging deeper thought and spurring on greater connections and conversations within my workplace. Therein lies my New Year's Resolution. I resolve to take my involvement with Twitter and Blogging to a deeper level, encouraging even greater thought and reflection and to challenge my thinking and the thinking of those with whom I interact, in hopes of promoting my professional growth and the continued improvement of the school where I work. While there is some inherent risk in this, I believe it is a risk worth taking. Some of the questions I may ask, or the philosophies I may share, could result in failure, but to quote Sir Winston Churchill (found in a blog by Jeff Delp, a fantastic administrator/blogger from Arizona whom I follow), and words for all of us to remember when working with our students and children,
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal; It is the courage to continue that counts"I look forward to continuing the journey, and hope that those who take the time to read what I put out there find some value in it also.
Enjoy the rest of your holidays, and may 2012 bring health and happiness to you and your family.