Networking in a Pandemic (key to survival)

Networking -key to survival through a Pandemic (or ever).

Today, I was inspired by Doug Peterson (doug-off the record) in his post “The value of a network”. I resonated (sooooo much) with this entire blog post.  Being part of this vast community has been what has held me together through all of this. Being able to ask questions, share resources, seek help/support, or simply just vent has meant everything to me.

It has been 6 months since schools were first shut down, along with most business and industry. Teaching and Learning during a pandemic has been a challenge  – but not all bad (in the context of education). I mean, in a really big way, as an industry, many folks have found solace, comfort, support and community though online tools, especially networking.

Many of us in this digital network of “peeps” have been advocating the use of 21st Century tools for years. Wifi in schools was a big initiative back in 2003 (or so). Then using tools like Skype and Google to teach students about “live documents’. And through it all, we advocated how these tools and techniques might actually provided more opportunity for students (and educators) who may not have succeeded otherwise. I was one of those educators who relied on specific tools to get through the day.

And now (15 years later), many folks, I’d argue,  including school leaders are discovering different (not always better) ways of doing things (what we’ve been advocating for years).  Online meetings are not new, just new to many folks in public education – but, I bet this may become normal (just today, I had two teachers reach out to me via our online conferencing tool). In the past it would have meant emails or driving to a school or a visit. Remote teaching and conferencing through digital tools is not new, just new in public education. Twitter groups and chats – not new. But, lately, it seems like folks are diving into this community and discovering the magic of sharing outside the walls of a school or district.

Now, do I think that our system was prepared for a full online shift? Absolutely not. I do believe, however,  that this adversity may lead people to explore different ways of doing things which might eventually lead to a more dynamic, equitable and flexible teaching and learning environment.

Back to Twitter. It has been almost 12 years since I’ve been using Twitter as a learning and sharing tool and about 10 years of teaching online courses. During these years, I have found many friends and colleagues (from across the world) who are like minded in their / our drive to improve education structures with the intent to build a more inclusive and innovative system.

These days, I follow a lot of people. Some I follow directly and others I follow on Twitter lists, private and public. Ontario Educators should know about the lists since they’re my resource for Friday mornings.  -Doug

These past 6 months have allowed me to renew my relationship with Twitter and participate in online discussions relating to both my profession as a special education teacher as well as my own community (Hamilton, Ontario). I learn so much from my community and have been so blown away by the amount of sharing and supporting, not just from experienced teachers, but from those new to the field.

As Doug reminds us,

The connections made and their value supports the notion that learning never ends. It’s almost criminal when people join Twitter because they were required to because of some course and then drop it when the course is over.

It is hard to name everyone, but I wanted to highlight a few folks who have gone out of their way to connect people during this unusual time in all our lives. The share, reflect and fight for innovation, equity and safe schools and communities:
David Truss is an educator and school leader from Coquitlam BC. More than anyone, I’ve enjoyed his daily blog posts, podcasts and reflections. I wish I was better at commenting. He is truly a connector and not only shares stories and ideas from his own life as an educator, but he is always amplifying and highlighting the ideas and contributions of others.
Jason Lay @jlay02: Keeps me up to date with Ontario News, resources and discussions. He ever hesitates to included others in discussion, including me (and I really should respond more). His most recent share: “A series of short tutorials to walk you through the steps of creating a new course using the @CanvasLMS Series includes: Creating a New Canvas Shell Configuring Basic Course Settings Creating Content Pages Setting a Course Home Page @PowerLrn








Lisa Noble @nobleknits2 – What can I say? Another teacher who is not only sharing classroom tools and ideas, but genuinely wants to support folks outside the classroom. It is Lisa that led me to start my “Covid19” knitting project. I’m about half way through. One line per day. 
I am fairly certain that this post will only be read by me (haha) and that is ok. Having a place to share and post my own ideas and resources will give me some motivation during a very strange and bizarre time in my (our) life.
I hope to post something at least once per week. Something to share and support others and something to keep me focused and motivated as well!