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My Communities

My Communities

Recently I had a job interview– yes, it’s that time of the year again that we all look forward to– in my interview, I was surprised by a question: “tell us about the various ways you stay in touch with professional learning communities.”

It was an easy enough question.  The thing that surprised me so much was the fact that I was anticipating that question.  Surely, faltering would mean that I wasn’t prepared to answer such a question or that I hadn’t truly thought about it before, right?  It took me a second to think and I listed off a few ways.  Later in the interview, I said something to the effect that it is something that I’m trying to develop.  I hope that I can become someone who has more connections and is also more active in sharing within the wider ed-tech community both online and in person.  I went on to say how much I value professional connections; by giving and sharing what I know and have, I get back more from others who are then willing to share from their own experiences. The interviewer told me that it was a great answer and that they felt it was one of my weaknesses (based on my CV), but my answer was exactly what they were looking for.

Time has passed since that interview and I am going through the introductory course on COETAIL which asked me to make a quick mindmap of my professional learning network.  I have to say, that now that I have actually written it down and thought about it, I have quite a few connections with others around the world.  This quick exercise shows me that I’m actually quite connected.  That being said, I think that I could be more active in each of my various communities.

It’s almost like we live in a time of over-connection and over-communication and as a result, we end creating less and less quality communication that when regular, can sometimes be lacking in substance.  Attending regular PD can be expensive and informal meet-ups can lack substance.  So It seems that in a sense, focusing on fewer communities and engaging in them with more commitment and regularity can be a solution.  What do you think?



  • Tanya LeClair -

    Hi Alex!

    I must admit that I have had the same thoughts about the quality of communication in my many communities. I came to the realization that it’s all important to me (from in-person, to email correspondence, to short tweets). What may be fleeting can add up and eventually turn into deeper connections later on. Being connected to larger networks can also provide educators with a sense of community that they may not have in their physical environment (especially if they are the only one in their role). You seem to have some amazing connections already and a great foundation to build upon. I am looking forward to seeing how COETAIL influences it.

    • Hi, Tanya. Thank you for your reply. I agree with your point– you never know where things might lead. But I have to wonder to what extent are we encouraging breadth rather than depth when it comes to communication. As technology leaders, it seems that there is almost an inherent bias toward breadth and being on every platform all the time. I think that’s almost what I’m advocating: choose fewer platforms, but do them each well.

  • Hi, Alex.
    I also share your concern. For example, as an 8th grade Humanities teacher I end up teaching Social Studies and English Language Arts. I was asked to participate in a Scope and Sequence meeting between 5 of our district schools so the vertical alignment of standards that we are hitting across middle school and high school can be aligned.
    I chose to only participate in the Social Studies (C3 curriculum) alignment as I felt it was my greater strength
    and left ELA alignment to my colleague who has a much better handle on it.
    In conclusion, maybe we should choose our strengths and passions as the areas that we want to work on so we don’t spread ourselves too thin. We may end up contributing in a meaningful manner as well. Who knows?

    • Hi Saadia,

      Thanks for the comment. I agree– perhaps our question should be, where can I make the greatest impact?

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