Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Everyone Needs Their Backs Scratched Once in a While

Well, I had every intention of writing a post about how Twitter has influenced my teaching, or how it is the best PD out there. However, it seems like everyone and their brother is singing Twitter's praises.
I intended to write about a topic that touched a nerve with a dear member of my Twitter PLN. That topic is measuring up.

However, this post is not about measuring up.

Yes, this post is about Twitter, but it is not focused on self-deprecating feelings.

Twitter has been incredible professional development, but it has offered something better.

That's validation.

I've spent a lot of years wondering if what I've been doing and how I've been teaching has value. Our profession is not one where we brag or boast about our lessons or successes. We often shy away from tooting our horns.

Dave Burgess commented in the May 5th #tlap chat, "We often forget to give ourselves credit for our accomplishments and brush off compliments." This was the beginning of the question that generated the fewest tweets, "How do you celebrate your own successes?"  Dave later tweeted that teachers need to work on this and it's ok to celebrate.

That leads me to Twitter validation. Until joining Twitter last year, I lacked validation for my efforts. Sure, I knew that I was doing great things for my students. I heard from parents, and could see successes on the faces of my students. However, I was missing something...validation from the teacher community. This makes sense because I rarely shared with my peers the great things I was doing in my classroom.

When I became more involved with Twitter, I was surprised how easy peer validation can be. I was reading tweets (and viewing posts and examples) about the most amazing ideas. With the click of a button, I could validate these educator's efforts and celebrate their successes. I enjoyed reading about the various ways educators from around the world were engaging their students and making learning fun.

Once I joined Twitter chats and started sharing my own ideas and strategies, I was overwhelmed with comments, favorites and retweets. Many followed me, and I started following them. I sought out other educators to add to my PLN who taught like me and pushed me to become better.

I consider Twitter to be a mutual admiration society. There is no hierarchy of educators in this community...only sharing and celebrating with peers. I learn from educators in all positions, and from all areas of the world. The best part: they also learn from me. Little old me from Brooklyn Park, MN. I can affect change in classrooms on the other side of the world. One simple idea I have in the middle of the night can turn into an amazing experience that can be shared and replicated on a much larger scale.

Three years ago, a high school English colleague and I started presenting at a summer literacy institute for district educators. We presented on TPFASTT, SOAPSTone, DIDLS, Socratic Seminar and Six Thinking Hats. So far, we have reached about 250 district educators.

Next week, we'll share blogging (Kidblogs), PVLEGS, Teach Like a Pirate hooks, Notice and Note Signposts, and adding TodaysMeet as a back channel for Socratic Seminar. This year, our umbrella is deepening literary discussions and increasing student engagement. We have about 50 4th-6th grade teachers signed up.

Although I thrive on the "in person" feedback we receive after our sessions, I have a greater appreciation for the bursts of feedback I receive after tweeting about an idea. This is especially true during Twitter chats, when my PLN is simultaneously at their computers...all of us searching for an idea or comment to spark an interest and affect change that will positively impact our students.

No, educators don't teach for the accolades. However, it sure is nice to feel validated by one's peers.

This validation runs rampant in the Twitter community.  I enjoy scratching the backs of my PLN, but I also enjoy having my back scratched once in a while.

Thanks to all of you wonderful educators!
We make each other better.
Let's celebrate our successes.


  1. You explore a quiet topic, but one that we all deal with - validation. We work diligiently without it, yet we can also be left wondering "Am I doing the rights things?" Am I making a difference?" What a breath of fresh air we can provide to our friends and colleagues when we take a moment to specifically validate their contributions. Thank you for your post!

  2. I think that is so true - we don't teach because we want validation, but it's nice when someone notices or even specifically comments on something great that we did. It often catches us by surprise! I also remember that question on May 5 and how it was difficult to answer because I knew that I didn't celebrate my own successes.

  3. I love the reflection and thought you put into this blog. It's true, I never do what I do for "validation" - so the surprise and honor that accompany a nod to my work is all the sweeter. Well said!