I originally started this post last fall to share about the break I took from social media. This post is now a revised entry from May 2019 updated to reflect more thoughts on the topic.
Summer is a time for rest and relaxation. A time to reflect on the past year and prepare for the next. Many teachers take part in professional development activities or graduate school work. Even more folks share about those experiences online through social media. I used to be one of those people. Today I am not.
Over the past year I have taken a break from both attending and presenting at conferences. Sure, part of that was practical with my transition back to the classroom and keeping a focus on that part of my career. The rest was purely personal. In 6 years I have done around 25 conferences presentations. While I still love sharing with others, it became time to focus more on myself.
It was a tough decision to limit the conferences during the 2018-19 school year particularly since I had already been accepted to present at some conferences and would need to cancel presentations. This was something I have never done before and hope to never have to do again. It was extremely fortunate that my new school was willing to let me miss a few days to attend one of the conferences, so I selected FETC as my one traveling conference for the year. You can read about that over in a separate post. For several years I have participated as a presenter, attendee, and volunteer at our local (Northern Illinois Computing Educators, or NICE) “MiniCon” event and the larger statewide EdTech conference (Illinois Computing Educators, or ICE). Ironically, in my first year as a member of the NICE board the MiniCon event ran the same weekend as FETC making it a conflict with my travel day getting out to Orlando, Florida. While it was sad to miss both the NICE MiniCon and the ICE Conference in 2019 I felt that it was necessary this year.
Another conference I have come to look forward to each year is (STEAM)² facilitated by Northeastern Illinois University’s Center for College Access and Success (that’s a lot of words!). Aside from being a lovely time out at The Q Center in St. Charles, this conference only runs from Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon. Perfect for those of us trying to squeeze in some PD without missing work and traveling too far!
It was hard to give myself permission to scale back with social media.
When the “thrill is gone” I will not actually be helping to inspire anyone else. Since I was feeling this way about PD overall in early 2018, I felt it was best to step away for a break. I did not have much to post online and I did not even check social media that much for ideas shared by others. This was quite a shift from the time when I was participating in 2-3 Twitter chats per week. It was hard to give myself permission to scale back with social media. Keep in mind that I am strictly talking about educational use of these tools - “EduTwitter” as they call it. Otherwise I am fairly anti-social when it comes to the online platforms. Even now as I look back at the original content from this post and revise it I am thinking about this idea of FOMO - “fear of missing out” that we have when we participate in social media. With EdTech it is particularly problematic because there is always some “new thing” to learn about or share how you are implementing in your classroom.
Choosing to focus on other areas, like volunteering, allowed me to put my time into something other than sharing content online. People can still ask me any time what I am up to along with what tech I am using (granted much of this stems from the switch back to the classroom from tech coaching) and I am more than happy to share. I am just not as concerned about getting all the details written up to blast out online. And that’s okay. Many people build in time to write and reflect regularly through blogs or social media. It works well for them. And that’s okay too. You should be happy being you and working within your own parameters.
My only hope is that there is a balance, a happy medium if you will, in this ever present smart phone culture we live in today. We should be aware of our own behaviors. Are you sitting on your phone at an event when you could be interacting with people in real life? Take advantage of those connections if you attend a conference. Would you rather follow along online with a hashtag (think “#NotAtISTE”) and skip all the traveling? Think about it. Weigh the positives and negatives. Do not let any part of the job fool you into thinking that you need to constantly be seeking out professional development opportunities. You will continue to grow if you set your mind to it. You can find the joy and live your best life…without having to share about it. Read a book. Attend one of our local NICE chapter meetings one evening next year. You do not need to prove to anyone else that you are a hard working professional.
Already #SorryNotSorry for how much or how little I will be sharing online in the next school year. Giving myself permission to see how it goes and figure it out!
Are you taking a break and focusing on yourself this summer?
You can find the joy and live your best life…without having to share about it.