My Online Community of Inspiration

David Weinberger - Edelman Blue Hour "Blogging"

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Udo Herzog 

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since I began this blog and in recognition of some people that have influenced my online learning, I decided to devote a post to acknowledge some whom regardless of their popularity deserve a hat tip.

Dean Shareski (@shareski) – embarrassing father and voice of reason.

It seems he wears many hats (but perhaps not so many pants) if you follow his twitter feed. They include taunting his wife and her shopping habits, animal photography (mainly dogs) and of course golfing. Sounds like a “dad” to me!

Dean’s twitter feed is a place for a giggle, interrupted intermittently by work stuff. Dean’s blog Ideas and Thoughts takes a more serious tone and I always find that he strikes a nice chord between being agitated by inaction and maintaining a rational productive approach to improving education and communities. If I actually played golf, I imagine a round with Dean would be littered with laughter and Seinfeld references.

George Couros (@gcouros) – “The Principal Of Change” no doubt

George is the reason I started this whole blogging caper.  George writes regularly and is reliable for both humourous and educational gold on twitter! He came to our school a year ago and facilitated several sessions over the day. As anyone who has seen George speak would know, he always includes humour and speaks from personal experience in his presentations. Whether adressing a small group or an entire hall, George makes you feel like he is talking to you alone.

I amongst many of my colleagues were inspired by George and started our own blogging journeys. For me it was his actions beyond that day that impressed me most. George continued to follow our progress and respond and retweet the birth of our online presence over the following months. George is as generous as it gets online and I am truly grateful for his continued support, inspiration and guidance.

Chris Lehman (@chrislehman)  – the educator I would like most to be at a dinner party with!

Whilst I have never met Chris, his openness across his twitter stream which shares his sporting passions and his family, means I feel I have an insight into who Chris is. I have not seen Chris present live, though I have watched his TEDxPhilly talk Education is Broken which is definitely worth a view. His blog Practical Theory comes across with such honesty and passion that it is hard not to include in my reader.  If you want examples of how to celebrate student success, take learning from homogenous to personalised, then Chris is your man.

Bill Ferriter (@plugusin) – Radical Uncle Bill, I can hear his accent in every word he writes!

I was fortunate to meet Bill in Melbourne this year when I attended his workshops at the annual Hawker Brownlow Teaching and Learning ConferenceSince then I have followed his twitter feed and added his blog The Tempered Radical to my reader. Bill is a passionate and dedicated professional with much generosity and spirit. I have gained a great deal in regards to building and maintaining PLCs and how to provide meaningful learning experiences for students from his examples. His accent is something else too y’all.

Justin Stortz (@newfirewitihin) – still a teacher (though not currently practicing) who is honest and extremely humourous – wins teacher I would like to sit in class with!

Whilst Justin is not practicing in the classroom at this point, his honest reflections about his nine years of teaching before he walked away are inspiring. Justin writes warts and all which is unfortunately something of a rarity online. Any educator will benefit from his writing as too would anyone living with or around depression. You can find him here Pursuing Context .

All of the educators above have an online following that reflects their connection to others and are by no means my only source of inspiration online and make up a small part of my reader. What they do provide is a written honesty that draws people to them, a regular presence online and engagement with their online community.  If you don’t already include them in your PLN then I encourage you to do so.

I have also chosen to include one of my own students among this online inspirational group. Her name is Gemma and you can find her blog here. Gemma is an amazing young lady who also happens to be Aspergers. Her passions and interests are unique and not shared amongst her peers. Blogging has enabled her to connect with others who share in common and establish connections she can develop in a non-confronting way. Gemma needs no encouragement to write honestly, in fact her writing can be somewhat confronting at times but always refreshing. My hope for Gemma, is that she continues to maintain her writing space beyond her time at school and continue to connect with people all over the world.

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