This is the first in a series of posts co-written by myself and Kristian Still (@KristianStill), an educator from the U.K. with whom I connected on Twitter. You will learn more about each of us and how and why we connected as you read the posts. He will be posting our writing on his blog as well.
“Find your tribe! [Hashtag] #justsaying,” the early adopter bellows down from the rooftop to the educator standing at the gate.
“My tribe? Hashtag #justsaying? [Deliberating pause]
Do you speak ‘teacher,’ for goodness sake?”
There are several reasons why educators like me (Kristian) and Amy are turning to social networks for professional development. First – they are readily available. Second, they encourage educators (anyone group) to connect with other educators and around similar interests, from a much broader and dislocated pool of expertise than available in a school, a local area meeting or National conference even. Lastly, I get to direct my own professional learning. I have agency.
This week the “#educoach” hashtag appeared in my Twitter timeline. Unlike Amy, I had not joined the chat live, I came by it a day later.
#educoach is a themed conversation hosted by two educator coaches @IAteacherNan and @KathyPerret from Kansas on Wednesday evening at 8pm CST. A stumbled upon the conversation the following day, read and summarised the thread. By thread I mean that by clicking on the #educoach hashtag – you are able to see all the messages shared around that topic, using that hashtag.
There were some interesting reflections and coaching strategies shared relating to self-efficacy and agency, managing setbacks and locus of control, before moving to focusing on instructional coaching (for confidence), then discussing coaching culture and finally personal professional development as a coach.
For me, Amy’s insights resonated. So I simply “followed” her told her that “I’d love to hear more about your work, context and reflections.” Amy responded.
“Hi! It’s great to connect with you. I’ve worked in a number of jobs that involve instructional coaching. First, as a teacher, I was a literacy coach to my peers. Then as a principal and a district level director, I have coached teachers and supported the district-level coaches. Now I work in a leadership coaching role, supporting our administrators.”
And here we are, learning from one another.
Of course, any two teachers-leaders-coaches-reflectors, would normally have more than enough to talk about, and then add our contextual and organizational differences (do I use a z or not?) we found ourselves exchanging questions throughout the day. Rather than keep those cross cultural insight to ourselves, we thought we may as well share them.
As the one across the world who responded to that DM, I’d like to share what an interesting experience this has been for me (Amy) as well. I used to participate in the #educoach chat weekly many years ago, but with a busy schedule it had fallen off my usual Twitter chats. I make a conscious decision last week to participate in more chats, to connect and reconnect with other educators and to be part of a larger tribe again.
When I got Kristian’s DM, I was intrigued because I wasn’t following him [yet] and I didn’t remember seeing him participate in the chat the previous day. But as I said to him, “I could talk about coaching all day long!” so I was happy to engage in a deeper virtual conversation. I love to learn about the context in which other educators work and coach and lead.