Four years ago I started edu-blogging, tweeting, connecting and sharing on social networks. I was scared to death at first since most around me thought of “social media” as a form of profanity.
However, the connections I’ve made changed my world and have helped me envision a new path for myself along the lines of connectivity. What I have learned has helped me become a “lead learner” not just in my role working for kids but in life. There are many student, teacher, parent and leader trailblazers I’ve leaned on to show me the ropes, but former Pennsylvania elementary principal, now her district’s edtech guru Lyn Hilt is someone whose online and offline “posts” have kept me thinking and inspired.
Lyn’s previous blog “The Principal’s Posts” was the place she openly shared her thoughts and reflections on change, collaboration, leadership, transparency, teaching and edtech ideas. I stumbled upon it as an elementary principal looking for “another Pennsylvania elementary principal” who was engaged in this connected work for the benefit for kids. You know the drill – sometimes you have to find an exemplar out there doing something great for kids that is in the same role you are to present a case for change to your supervisors.
For me that was Lyn. And looking back four years, I’m lucky to know her “in real life” beyond the profile pic, tweets and blogs. I was able to meet her “work family” during my dissertation process in studying her school’s family engagement efforts and her “home family” while getting our toddlers together for a Phillies game. We continue to connect in supporting the needs of students, staff and families at conferences and during the college courses she teaches. Lyn is someone who is a collaborator by default. She is never afraid to reach out for help, gives herself little credit when accomplishing a lot and leads by example. She might have over 15,000 followers on Twitter (@LynHilt), but she will connect with anyone at anytime if it means helping kids and teachers. She is what epitomizes “The PLN” (Personal Learning Network) – in my opinion the best thing our field of education has going here in 2014.
Those who get it are well aware – The PLN is about people. Yes there are thousands of awesome ideas being shared everyday on how to help the multitude of different students we serve, but those who continue to dismiss social media’s positive impact on our field still don’t quite get one thing: This work is about people. Whether we’re engaging families, implementing BYOD/1:1, engaging a deeper level of student voice in schools or infusing innovation into our K-20 schools – it is the relationships that either keeps our learners inspired and coming back for more or makes them wish they didn’t get out of bed that morning. Instead of waiting until teacher appreciate week to “happen,” we (leaders, teachers, community members) need to take the time EACH DAY to articulate to people near and far how much they matter, and how their knowledge and efforts are being leveraged in ways they didn’t even know existed. Commit to valuing educator morale. We can all learn something from the culture of our respective PLN. How can we then infuse this healthy environment into our respective organizations?
So who is your Lyn Hilt? Take 30 seconds and recognize someone in the comments below that you feel has kindled a fire within you to be better at what you do.