I am not an expert, I simply love what I do…

My rambling thoughts…
I’ll finally be returning home to Michigan today from my rather extended vacation.  When school ended, I headed for my parent’s home in Chicago with my family.  After staying there for about a week, my husband, Jason, and I traveled to San Diego for the #ISTE12 conference.  Jason is not in education, but who wouldn’t want to visit the beautiful landscape sunny California has to offer?  After the conference ended, Jason drove back to Michigan to work.  The kids and I stayed in Chicago visiting my parents.
We’ve been enjoying quality family time by the pool and staying up way too late watching movies.  We’ve also been working.  I often think of work as fun… just as I like for my students to think of learning as being fun.  Yesterday Riley and I traveled to the downtown Chicago office to visit Eric and Vince from MentorMob, and #edtech start up (blog post coming soon…).  Jason and I met Eric and Vince in San Diego.  They’re great guys.  While downtown, Riley and I also enjoyed afternoon tea at Palm Court and shopping at American Girl. 
A new friend from Twitter (@Dr.SpikeCook) gave me a call this morning to discuss a few educational topics.  He’s writing a series of posts on his blog about how social media supports education for different people.  As I sipped my coffee, I enjoyed the casual exchange of dialogue surrounding classroom design, getting started with blogging, and influential members of my personal learning network.  I was surprised when our conversation ended that we had been talking for over an hour.  I’m excited for the opportunity to connect with Spike and many other friends in Washington D.C. this September at the Bammy Awards.  Twitter has opened the door for these types of connections to occur.  
The slide above is another demonstration of the power of a personal learning network.  Recently, Twitter friend, @courosa, reached out to his network asking for examples of why social learning networks matter in learning and teaching.  You can read his post here.  
I created the above slide and sent him the following email:
Hi Alec,
I’m so sorry I’m just getting this to you.  I’ve been out of town, and I hope it’s not too late.

The
slide I’m attaching represents the power of a strong PLN.  It’s a photo
from our #ISTE12 panel: “Collaborative Mentoring for New Teachers.”
The panel consists of: administrators, teachers, librarians, Edutopia bloggers, tech. coordinators, new teacher, etc… I think you’ll recognize all of the people.  :)

I
have taught for 4 years.  Within the last 18 months, I have been
blogging and tweeting… my blog and social media reach have evolved
into a mini-success because of my PLN.  Here is my blog: http://www.kleinspiration.com
and my Twitter handle: @KleinErin I’ve received many awards from my
blog (seen on my right scroll bar) but most of all, I’ve learned.  I
also love the comments teachers send me:


Hi Erin –
This looks awesome! Wow! Thank you!
Oh
the blog is real :). I have been following you since your first day
featured on iLearn and your growth is incredible. Now, I have my mom
hooked :). It’s cute: when we get together we talk about your latest
posts. She teaches first grade and I teach Higher Ed but your blog
creates a common ground for us in education (I also home-school my kids
and get a lot of ideas from you!).
Thanks for all your hard work and generous spirit sharing ideas.
Continued success…
Lisa

Erin,
Thank you so much!  Your blog has been such an inspiration in my
little first grade classroom!  I was so motivated by u I wrote a grant
in the beginning of the year for 5 iPads and 5 iPods!  I wasn’t
selected, boo! … But know that teachers are growing and changing their
expectations of what technology integration can and should be in their
classroom bc of u! Thanks again!
Rachel

For
me, this is what is is about… sharing and learning from each other. 
Teaching isn’t what I do, it’s who I am… it’s a lifestyle.  I find the
time to do what I love and to always make it better.  I look up to my
PLN for what they have taught me, and as a new teacher I look forward to
what they will continue to teach me each day.  I try to pay it forward
by sharing my learning with other teachers.  Blogging helps me to
reflect and have an archive of my favorite resources along with sharing
them with other colleagues.

I hope this slide makes your presentation or even a blog post.

If
I can provide you with any additional information, please let me know. 
I have really enjoyed following you for such a long time.  It’s an
honor to potentially be a part of your presentation/and or blog.  I’m
excited to hear back from you.

Are you going to DC in September?  I’d love to connect f2f as well.

Best regards and safe travels,

Erin

Meanwhile, I received another email this morning from the organizer of an upcoming conference where Sir Ken Robinson will be keynoting.  She was given my name by dear friend, @thenerdyteacher.  She’s interested in having me attend the upcoming conference as a social media ambassador.  Again, because of Twitter, these opportunities are opening doors.

I often get asked, “How do you have so many followers?”  Though Twitter refers to people in your network as followers, they’re actually peers and colleagues.  It’s not that I have thousands of followers; I have several friends and colleagues.  I always answer this question by explaining that I invest a lot of time in my network.  I don’t simply post Tweets from my blog.  I actually interact and engage.  I participate in Twitter chats.  I try to answer questions when I see them posted.  I support other friends when they need help.  I ask questions when I need clarification.  It’s a give and take.  It is very social for me.  It’s a two way street.  It’s true, I’ve only been actively Tweeting for around 18 months.  Prior to this, though I had an account, I forgot how to login.  Once I kept hearing about Twitter at conferences, I figured I’d better access my forgotten account – most awesome decision of 2011.

Once I figured out how to login, my first challenge was to unlock the secret code of the @ sign and the # tag.  It was frustrating, but I was seeing the advantages other people were discovering, and I was eager to have that same experience.  Honestly, I felt like I was learning a foreign language.  It was rewarding as I began to successfully learn how to navigate properly responding to people and initiate my own Tweets.  I’ll admit, I was a lurker at first (@web20classroom has a great post about this topic here).  I think you have to be… I needed to see conversations being modeled (this I do phase of teaching).  Then I slowly dipped my toes into the ‘we do’ phase and interacted with people.  My final independent step of sending out my own Tweets was a bit scary.  Would people respond to me?  What would I Tweet?  Who cares what I have to say?  What if I say something stupid?  Is there a permanent record of my Tweets?  What if someone disagrees with my Tweet?  Do I simply stay on the shore, or do I get my feet wet?  Perhaps I should jump right in?  I always try to run fast towards what scares me the most.  I think it makes me a stronger person.  So, a little over a year later… here I am.

These opportunities don’t happen because I’m an expert.  They happen because I put myself out there.  I stay connected, and I share.  I’ve only been teaching for four years.  I have so much to learn still.  That is exactly why I need my network.  I rely on my network to keep me grounded and to share their experiences with me so that I can continue to grow.  I’m not afraid to take risks and try new things.  It is part of who I am.  I grew up in an ever changing world (plus my dad was in the military – we moved a lot and I needed to adapt quickly).  I learned quickly to adapt and be flexible – to have a vast toolbox to share.  Because I network, I learn.  There is no way I’d ever embrace an audience with the notion that I am an expert.  I do present.  I do travel across the country.  I do host workshops and give talks in front of large audiences, but never as the expert – always as someone who was fortunate enough to learn something great and who is eager to share it with others so they can have a similar experience.  I get so excited when my students do something wonderful or when I learn about a new tool.  Why wouldn’t I want to share that with others?  After all… someone shared it with me.  It’s only right to simply pay it forward.  That’s the least I can do.  My close mentor and friend, Lisa, taught me to share and always continue learning by staying involved.  That’s what I aim to do – for my students – because they deserve the best.

Twitter… connecting educators from across the globe!

Erin

Mother. Teacher. Keynote. Author

Erin Klein is an award winning educator, national keynote speaker, author, and mother.

8 Comments
  1. Great reflection, Erin!

    The truth is, none of us are experts. If we were, we'd stop learning :) We are lifelong learners, constantly forming and reforming our opinions and always growing. It was great to meet you at ISTE, and I look forward to continuing to learn from you!

  2. MB – thank you for your reply! You were one I was really happy to meet in San Diego. I've enjoyed reading your post on Edutopia. I always enjoy what you share.

    It was an honor to share a place next to you on our panel at ISTE. I look forward to collaborating with you again in the future. You're always insightful and reflective.

    I look forward to connecting in a few weeks in D.C. for the awards.

    Best,

    Erin

  3. I can't believe you've only been teaching for 4 years! You are my rock star!! I adore the picture of your daughter and you, what a nice memory!
    ~Fern

  4. Excellent inside information on your mentality, Erin. After having known you for the past year, it is obvious that your work ethic and care for others are both top notch. Please continue to do what you do.

    Steady,
    Marquin Parks

  5. This was a very inspiring post, Erin! Thank you for sharing your behind-the-scenes thoughts on social media. I have been a social media lurker for a LONG time! I am glad I finally took the plunge to start a blog, but I am still terrified by Twitter… you're right, it definitely seems like a foreign language to the lurker!! I am sure I will take the plunge with Twitter one of these days 😉

    Kate
    EduKate and Inspire
    Stop by my 100 follower giveaway!

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