I've been thinking about this a lot lately.
What I love about the show, "The Voice," is that it allows contestants to be judged on the quality of their voice alone. The audience can see them, but the four judges have their chairs turned around and cannot.
When these brave (and lucky) souls open their mouths to sing, the judges either turn around in support of their vocal talent or they don't. It doesn't matter what they look like or what they're wearing. It doesn't matter if they can dance or not (although it sometimes negatively affects their singing).
They make it onto a judge's team based solely on the music they offer.
When I first joined Twitter one year ago, it was like auditioning for The Voice.
Nobody could see me (except a small profile picture). Nobody could hear me talk. Nobody could see me teach. They couldn't see my classroom or my students. They couldn't see my messy house (although it's cleaner in the summer months).
Through Twitter, I was able to share only what I chose to share. At first, I was careful to only tweet out my best thoughts and ideas. I was trying desperately to make a great first impression. This is similar to a competitor on The Voice. They walk on stage and sing the best they know how. If they make it on a judge's team (and therefore, make it on the show), they can challenge themselves and try different styles.
All that the members of my PLN can judge me on are my tweets. Do they offer a new idea or perspective? Are they in line with their own thinking? Do my tweets challenge their thinking? Do they link to other's awesome ideas? Do they demonstrate my positive feelings toward their ideas?
Once the number of followers increased and I "made it" on the Twitter "show," I shared a little more of myself. I felt more comfortable offering a divergent opinion or sharing my own ideas (even pictures and videos of my students). I joined chats and tweeted out opinions that may have differed from my peers. I have experienced huge professional growth over the past year, as do most of the contestants on The Voice.
Maybe this is why I like the show so much. All contestants have the unique opportunity to be judged only on the song they choose to share. Then, they have the support of the judges, the fans, and the show to push themselves as artists.
My tweets are like my song. My PLN members are my judges and fans.
Thanks to my wonderful PLN for choosing me to take a spot on your team. I have never regretted my decision to choose any of you as part of mine.