Admission of Vulnerability - My PLN

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"I don't know anything about technology," shared a lady in my session this past weekend. "You just helped me send my first text message." It was a sobering admission, heartbreaking and fundamentally transformational and wonderful to be a part of. It was an admission of vulnerability from another learner.
Real change comes from our willingness to own our vulnerability, confess our failures, and acknowledge that many of our stories do not have a happy ending." (Peter Block)
That is what one does when one owns one's vulnerability, isn't it? When you share what you don't know with others, you enable others to connect to you and share what they know. You empower yourself to learn from those around you. It made me think of M. Scott Peck's points on building community in The Different Drum:
We think of confession as an act that should be carried out in secret, in the darkness of the confessional, with the guarantee of professional priestly or psychiatric confidentiality. Yet the reality is that every human being is broken and vulnerable. How strange that we should ordinarily feel compelled to hide our wounds when we are all wounded!
I lay no claim to being able to build community. However, it is important that I acknowledge that my PLN helps me off-set my failures. Like the teacher learning to text for the first time at a workshop full of strangers, I have learned so much about using technology from "strangers."

My professional learning network (PLN) has changed how I learn and share ideas. It has shifted my focus, enhanced my learning in ways that enable me to have a greater base of ideas to apply to my practice of workshop facilitation, more than anything else I do. This past weekend, I had the chance to see a community of folks working hard to share ideas within their group. And while that was powerful for some of them, there were others who definitely needed to build a "digital" professional learning network. Such a PLN could help accelerate how technology can positively impact teaching and learning in their classroom.

One of the presenters at the Heart of Texas Writing Project event this past Saturday was kind enough to remark on how well my presentation went, then ask for constructive feedback on his presentation. Honestly, I was shocked to even be asked given my own reservations about the presentation I gave.

As I reflected on his presentation on the ride back home, I realized that each of us can always do better. His question was wonderful and I started to wish that I'd asked him what he thought of my presentation! What a missed opportunity for dialogue on my part.

This time, I felt comfortable that I was "on message" most of the presentation, although I was grateful when Diana reminded me of the hands-on component.  That she did so reminded me that while it's important to convey information, craft a satisfying experience for your audience, it's also good to shut up and get out of the way of them doing something!

As I chatted with the presenter, I promised to send him my Advice to Speakers and Workshop Facilitators. And, while skimming my feeds today, I saw this post by The Innovative Educator on 15 Essentials of Bad Professional Development in Technology...well worth reading. As I pointed out, Diana kept me from committing "#8 - Hands-on activities are for losers. It’s all about the lecture."

One of the questions that came in from the audience to the presenter to answer, though, was, "How do you learn all this? How do you keep up?"

At this point, those of you who have your own professional learning network (PLN) would know what the "correct" response is...mention Twitter, blogs, Google Reader (in fact, here's my standard response in two articles - Building Your PLN and The Twitter Experience.). But that answer wasn't forthcoming. I didn't feel comfortable interjecting and sharing my response after having just relinquished the floor. Teachers in the audience were left to wonder how the presenter had acquired so much learning in a short time.

It was a question I wondered about as well. Without a clear explanation, it might as well be magic, right? Of course, it wasn' was a testament to that presenter's hard work and effort. Who/what is in HIS PLN? And was such a PLN, digital?

When I asked him later, the presenter pointed out that he had signed up for Twitter but hadn't really used it. Did he have a blog? Not exactly, more of a web site where he put all his resources. I was truly amazed to find such a high-performing presenter--and have no doubt, he was solid--without the "net"-work of learners helping him learn new things.

As solid as the presenter was, I kept coming back to the teacher in the audience who learned how to send a text message so she could participate in the activity. I will treasure her admission of vulnerability, her ability to make the private, public for a long time, an act definitely worth emulating.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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