Before I set out why I am so hellbent on starting #SCed, let me tell you my "Twitter-estimony" (I made that up!).
I joined Twitter a couple of years ago to keep up-to-date with Gamecock sports and local and world news. My wife and I had just decided to cancel cable, so I needed a way to stay connected. I have never been a huge Facebook lover, so I needed something different. I chose Twitter and am glad that I did. The first people I followed were all sports and news related until I sought out @johntspencer after following his blog for a short while. Honestly, this opened the door to something that was simply breathtaking.
I began to read John's tweets, then began to read responses and dialogue he was having with fellow educators all over the world. Much of the dialogue was what I called "challenge based". He was not looking for echo-chambers, but for people to challenge his ideas. Great thing about it, John wasn't alone. I started turning over more and more rocks, and found more and more AMAZING educators with a unbridled passion for learning. Soon after that I figured out hashtags and began watching #edchat, #edtech, #4thchat, and #5thchat very closely. Not long after that, I was introduced to the #140edu conference.
I remember sitting in my family's lake house on beautiful Lake Murray in Lexington, SC watching 2 presentations. One was on the power of Wikispaces in the classroom and the other was EduTecher aka Adam Bellow's presentation on Educational Tech Commandments. I was absolutely hooked.
I am a learner at heart. I tried my best to convince my students that I was probably the least intelligent being in the classroom. I was just a 30 year-old kid wanting to learn as much as possible about math, science, reading, and writing. Twitter was my grown up inlet for learning. The professional development on Twitter is both priceless and price-LESS (...seriously, it comes with no price...FREE...beat that)! It is also not necessarily limited by time. Discussions are archived so if you cannot be there for real time, just come back when you can and catch up! Finally, it's not limited by space. I can communicate with people half way across the world and people in the same room simultaneously.
Since it's now been a solid year since I have been diving into Twitter for professional purposes, I have been around the block a few times, but am still finding so many cool and amazing people, learning communities, organizations, products, groups, etc. The thing that has amazed me over everything else is the fact that teachers that buy into professional learning through a medium like Twitter are usually educators that are worth listening to. However, I have been hard pressed to find a ton of other South Carolina educators that have tapped into the professional benefits of Twitter.
I have served in the education field for six years. Throughout my time as a South Carolina educator, I have been very impressed with a ton of things that the state does to support teachers. Of course, nothing is ever perfect, but I would say for the most part, South Carolina has a foundation on which to build. I think this is where #SCed could be very valuable.
Times are changing in education, especially in South Carolina (Common Core, merit based pay, etc.). As Will Richardson said in a recent blog post we must "redifine better". It is time for South Carolina educators (especially the ones that are worth listening to) to come together in order to connect, collaborate, and encourage to make the education in South Carolina better by making it different!
#1 - Connect - #SCed will be used to connect educators from all over the great state of SC. This Google doc is being passed around so you can link your twitter account so other SC educators can find you. There are directions on how to do this on the doc.
#2 - Collaborate - #SCed will be used to collaborate vertically and horizontally so we can share ideas, thoughts, and beliefs. Likewise, when ideas, thoughts and beliefs are shared they will also be rightfully and respectfully challenged. This will be a forum to do just that!
#3 - Encourage - #SCed will be used as a tool to encourage (NOT gripe to) each other. We all know that SC is a poverty stricken state. I could link to article after article that tells us how hard we have it. I don't have to tell you how hard it is. We need to be encouraged by fellow educators that are in the trenches with us, because what we do as educators matters to THAT child. Our passions for teaching and learning will simply breed more passion.
#SCed might be a complete waste of time. It might never get going, or it might get shut down before it starts. However, the people of SC deserve only the best. Educators that connect, collaborate, and encourage are the ones that will not only make SC better, but will make it great.
I look forward to connecting with you soon!