Last night I hosted a Twitter chat on behalf of the #ScotEdChat community. The theme for this chat was Leadership. This post is not about Leadership but it is about community and commitment. The chat lasted one hour and, as the moderator, I can confirm how manic that hour was. So manic, my iPad struggled to cope and I had to revert to my phone for the last fifteen minutes or so. The reason the chat was so manic was due to the commitment of the educators, and others, who took part and their interest in the topic being discussed.
Collaboration and professional dialogues have been identified by many thinkers and researchers as amongst the most powerful strategies for individual, school and system development. The work of Fullan, Hargreaves, Timperley, Harris and others have all emphasised the importance of such collaborative and collegiate cultures. Much of this work has focused on the cultures within schools and systems. However, we are now exploiting new cultures through Social Media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and the like. Now collaborative cultures are not restricted by the physical proximity of participants. We are now able to collaborate and share insights and experiences from wherever we are. Last night's chat was a perfect example of this. We had contributions from across the length and breadth of Scotland. We also had contributions from colleagues and interested parties from England and Wales. Today there has been more interaction from Canada, Europe, Australia and Malaysia, as others have sought to continue the conversations across time zones.
I regularly take part in such Twitter chats across country borders and across different continents. A common experience in them all is the willingness of participants to engage and share for the benefit of all. This is not about saying 'look at me and how good I am.' It is more aligned to 'these are my thoughts, experiences and insights. How do they align with your own?' Through such openness to share the positives and negatives with all, everyone is able to further develop their understandings, thinking and practice. These are developing through experiences and insights gained across many different systems and are not beholden to, or needing permissions from, anyone but the participants themselves.
I hope #ScotEdChat continues to grow and I hope other such chats similarly thrive too. Probably using the term 'chats' is a bit disrespectful to the quality of the interactions that take place. They are often deep and informed not only by experience but also by research. Indeed a number of these online professional conversations are joined by leading researchers and thinkers. Today there have been comments and retweets by Carole Campbell, Alma Harris, Michelle Jones and Mark Priestley. it would be quite costly to get speakers of such quality to a venue near you, but through Twitter, and these conversations, you can bring their engagement into your living room, school or pub!
Thank you to everyone who took part last night. Thank you also to everyone who allows me and others to be an active participant, or lurker, in other such conversations. One thing myself and others who participate in such conversations can do, to keep them growing and contributing to ground-level system development everywhere, is to bring a friend, or friends, to the chats we engage with. The bigger the level of community involvement and engagements the bigger the impact and the greater the insights. First step, if you are new to these conversations, is to explore the range of conversations going on that you may be interested in. Then start following and begin making a contribution to the discussions. These will grow over time, but all the time you control your own level of engagement.
As I said in my last post, its good to chat, in fact its essential.