The Last Post…

This blog was originally started as a part of a Digital Literacies course requirement. Ten posts were required, making this the last (required) post. With the semester wrapping up, a final thesis draft due, and a seemingly never-ending job search, things have been pretty hectic these past few weeks. I  had every intention of blogging, and ended up starting at least 4 different drafts trying to decide on a topic for this (last) post. I am enjoying blogging. I find it a great way to process information that I come across through Twitter, news, social media at what seems to be lightning speed. So instead of framing this as the last blog post, I’ve decided to list all of the topics I’ve been thinking about over the past few weeks. I hope that this will be the beginning of a new chapter for this blog and that it will become a regular practice. Here goes…

  • Budget cuts: Here in Philadelphia, the School District is faced with a potential $304 million deficit. The budget plan to address this, referred to as the Doomsday Budget, would eliminate counselors, librarians, secretaries, sports, and extracurriculars among other budget lines, leaving essentially teachers and principals in schools come September. The question then becomes “How low can you go?
  • Future of libraries (both school & public): While the future of public schools in Philadelphia is in flux, the future of libraries is also positioned at a (potential) turning point. To those who say libraries are outdated & irrelevant…take a look at this. For the month of May, YALSA is hosting a series of discussions on the #futureoflibraries that looks absolutely fabulous. (Think teens, technology access, social media).
  • Why schools are so reticent to hire a first year teacher: My recent job search has reminded me of an article I read a while back (and can’t seem to locate now) about KIPP. The article was in reference to their teacher apprentice program, but ran with the headline ‘Would You Want Your Child to be Taught by a First Year Teacher?” (or something along those lines). While I am aware that research indicates a 3 year learning curve for new teachers, I’m not entirely sure that it can ever be completely eliminated. Teacher Ed. programs and apprentice/clinical models can only do so much. I’m not sure any training program can prepare teachers on anything and everything they should anticipate happening during that first year. On a lighter note, I came across the following (hypothetical but awesome) interview question in a twitter chat. “You are the teacher. Student #1 just punched Student #2. A third student is throwing up. The class hamster just escaped from its cage. What do you do to address this situation? In what order?”
  • The design of learning spaces: This topic will likely become the topic of an independent study I’ll be completing this summer. I’m aiming to evaluate different approaches to designing learning environments, and how they address student and teacher learning styles.  A possible re-design of a classroom (or school library) is also in the works, potentially using a design-thinking framework (IDEO, Stanford d-school) to address current barriers to learning that stem from school/classroom organization.

Additional topics I’m still pondering include:

  • Academic writing ‘in public’ & why I’ve been debating posting the working draft of my thesis as a public Google doc.
  • The role of leaders as storytellers
  • The notion of ‘other people’s children’ and its implication in conversations about education
  • The public purpose of private schools.

Hopefully some, if not all, of these ideas will be included in future posts. Until then, its back to thesis edits & final papers/projects.

Confessions of a Twitter Chat Lurker

As I’ve been exploring Twitter over the past few months I’ve come to value it as a professional learning tool. I will admit, I’ve become semi-addicted to checking my twitter feed to see what’s going on in the world and the lives/work of the people I ‘follow.’ A course I’m taking this semester, Digital Literacies (#diglits), has been using twitter and discussing ideas of networked publics, digital spaces, authorship, etc. Recently, I’ve found myself saying that there are weeks where (it seems like) I learn more from twitter than from grad school. Twitter Chats, however, are one aspect of Twitter where I have not been an active participant.

What is a Twitter Chat?

For those of you who reading this who are completely confused, let me rewind for a bit. Per its homepage, Twitter is… “a real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news about what you find interesting. Simply find the accounts you find most compelling and follow the conversations.” Twitter chats are, usually, based on a topic of interest and occur on a specific day/time each week. Here is a list of Twitter Chats compiled by Tom Murray (@thomascmurray) Director of Technology and Cyber Education at Quakertown Community School District.

What’s the Value of a Twitter Chat?

To answer that question, I’ll defer to some twitter chat experts.

Why Lurk?

I’ve recently been lurking in a bunch of twitter chats. These include: Parent-Teacher Chat (#ptchat), Standards Based Grading (#sbgchat) and Iowa Ed Chat (#iaedchat) to name a few. I’m curious to explore subject-specific chats as well as those related to school librarians. This being said, my current work schedule is not conducive to many twitter chats. This may change in the future, but for now I end up reading archives of chats and/or lurking for the last 20 minutes or so of live chats. I’m also hesitant to enter into content area chats as I don’t necessarily identify with one subject matter. I tend to prefer interdisciplinary approaches to elementary, language arts, and social studies topics.

Lately, I’ve been wondering if twitter chats are unique to education. My perspective is limited in that I primarily follow education/library affiliated folks.  Do other industries conduct regular twitter chats? I would love to find one that involves public and/or academic librarians. If anyone has suggestions, I’d love to hear them.