A self indulgent reflection

I was privileged today to have the opportunity today to participate in a PLN (Professional Learning Network) workshop at the SLV. It promised to be a ‘challenging and interesting exploration of social media and the role of networks in changing education systems’  exploring our ideas around collaboration, networking and education systems. And that it was.

I came away asking more questions than I have answers for. That seems to be the story of my life – I can explain why I don’t like the status quo, why I want to be part of the change, why I want to be the grade four girl at the top of the ski run – but I still struggle with what the alternative looks like, sounds like and feels like.

As someone who has been in education as a learner and teacher since the BC (before computers) era I am continually exploring and challenging the ‘way I learn’ and the ‘who I am as a teacher’. There are many aspects of social media and networking that I still find challenging, yet upon reflection they are often the same things that I find challenging in real life. I thrive on listening (lurking), being part of other’s conversations, I love the challenges to my thinking, the new ideas, or old ideas with a new perspective but I continually struggle with the best way to articulate my thinking. I don’t want to be the person that takes and doesn’t give – but I am still working out what I have to give. Because all I seem to have is questions and not answers.

We joke in our family about my husbands propensity to be a ‘problem solver’. He was much happier when he finally decided that our youngest daughter was not a whinger – she was just stating facts. Therefore he no longer felt that he needed to solve her problems. 

This is how I have been feeling – that to be a networker I needed to be a problem solver, contribute answers, solutions and actions. My new thinking is that being a networker and a collaborator is not about having the answers, it is about ‘stating the facts’, about asking the questions. It is about the communication, the collaboration, the critical thinking and the networking as we explore our thinking. Is that where the answers come from?

I used to think …. that I had to have the answers, now I think … that the answers come from the power of the connections and the networks. And that the answers simply create more questions.

So what does this mean for ME …………

It means that I have to trust that what I have to say adds value to the network, it means that I have to tweet the thoughts in my head – because they have no traction if I don’t share them, it means I have to take risks online and it means I have to stop over thinking my half-formed tweets and just send them. It means I have to tip my skis over the edge and let them run …………………………..


Footnote : This blog has been my opportunity to reflect and explore who I was becoming as a learner/teacher  – a change of school, a change of role has been all consuming – it is time to start reflecting again.

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11 Responses to A self indulgent reflection

  1. Jenny Ashby says:

    Everytime we speak or write we take risks. Some are better risk takers than others. Technology has given so many students and teachers a voice. They have taken the plunge and now have changed the playing field.

    I love the way you have so honestly spoken of your risk taking and thoughts. We all have second thoughts at times and perhaps it’s more important to ask questions and more questions as new questions often answer old questions.

    Thanks for your post

    Cheers from Jenny

  2. Britt Gow says:

    Great post – I would have loved to have been at SLV today. I followed the tweet stream and it did pose a lot of thought-provoking questions.
    This post, tweeted by @murcha helped me to understand why I don’t like the status quo and why I want to be part of the change:
    Keep asking questions!

  3. Bev says:

    What a great post! Although I was unable to attend the gathering at the SLV today, I have just finished reading the TweetDoc that was posted, pondering about the content of some of the links posted and jotting a few thoughts in the form of tweets. Following this by reading your words brings my thinking full circle.

    Like you I too am constantly discovering and learning. Having taught heaps BC (love that acronym!) I too am finding my way in a new world. The journey is mind blowing! Knowing that we all have something to contribute to each other’s learning is a joy!

  4. medg says:

    Thanks Jenny … some of us are better risk takers that others – and I have realised I take risks online the same way I do in real life – cautiously, one toe at a time but really wanting to dive in.
    Britt and Bev – How fantastic is it, that you were both able to part of the experience even though you could not be there (the wonders of modern science). That is why I love being an educator so much – the learning possibilities are endless. Bev – I all take your words with me in to the future – yes we do ALL have something to contribute to each other’s learning. Britt contributed through sharing a link which created more questions that answers.
    Most importantly thanks for valuing my ideas and adding to the discussion.

  5. Hi Margo,

    I enjoyed reading your post, thanks. I know your doubts. I too have written many a blog post only to chicken out mainly due to over analysis, doubts and second guessing. I need to throw caution to the wind and just post them and not worry about push back and critique from my PLN. After all having our thinking challenged is an essential part of learning. I think you summed it up beautifully when you say:

    “It means that I have to trust that what I have to say adds value to the network, it means that I have to tweet the thoughts in my head – because they have no traction if I don’t share them”

  6. Great post and thread! Totally agree that questions are SO powerful in clarifying the issue or problem. Questioning also helps us to connect (ahhh, others are wondering that too!) and come up with actions to take.

  7. Helen Otway says:

    Margo, it was great to see you there yesterday. From the BC days when we were both at play group with our own kids, things have changed a lot in our profession. However, I think our values and inner self are what drive us forward. We don’t really change all that much really. Back then we asked questions, pondered over the trends and directions in education, but our voice was little. With social media and PLNs we can use our little voice to gain clarity and deep deeper into our own thoughts and ideas. The myriad of lenses that have opened up to us now, can continue to shake us and ground us.
    Thanks for your post,

  8. John Pearce says:

    Hey Margo, at one level I sympathise with your dilemas, at another I empathise yet, at another I think ‘Nah what the heck, if Margo is going to be so self-indulgent, why shouldn’t she be told?’…….. in the nicest possible way :).

    It’s so enabling to see someone else experiencing exactly the same internal struggles I , (and it looks like many others), endure every time I join in one of these experiences. So far it’s taken me some 15+ minutes to carve out these few words including diversions to Twitter and the odd wistful look out the window. Makes you wonder more and more about the other folk who inhabit our schools and whether too many of them put themselves, (or who are allowed to put themselves), in these positions?

    OK 20 minutes gone, lol….. I’m going back to listening……

    Oh before I go, something else to muddy the waters,

    “We seem to be entering a culture that is answer-rich but, perhaps, question-poor”


    Thanks for being so self indulgent, I’m growing to really appreciate that characteristic in you :).

  9. Andrew Hiskens says:

    Great post and, I suspect, what many people feel.

    I think that the comments above are really a QED for the notion that the knowledge is ‘in’ the network. ‘Meaning making’ occurs on a continuum between the individual and the social.

    So, you’re right, we need to launch the ideas out of our heads (like the top of the ski slope). Sometimes they will accelerate rapidly and attract discussion. Other times they will gently slide to a stop.

    Both eventualities create value.

  10. Jon Watts says:

    I completely agree and often find myself in exactly the same position – having to trust that what I have to say is as valid and value-adding as anyone else.

    A wonderful blog post. Thanks for sharing!

  11. medg says:

    Thank you all for your responses.
    I am a great believer in ‘takeaways’ (not of the food variety) but takeaways from experience. What started off as an opportunity for me to try and make sense of my experiences and thinking has certainly provided me with some very powerful takeaways, through your responses.
    I need to remember that I am not alone and that for every time I am unsure and hesitant about sharing my thinking so are many others.
    As we struggle to make sense of this changing world and develop the language to articulate our thinking we need to remember that every idea adds value even it provides a point of ‘pushback’ or discussion for someone else.

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