I have been reflecting on the recent blog by Pernille Ripp asking, “Where are all the connected female educators?” I too have been wondering about this, specifically noting a lack of Canadian female connected educators. Do other people share this observation?
I am not a visible connected female educator, yet I feel connected. I have attended ConnectEd 2012. I tweet (ok – I retweet). I read many blogs. I follow conferences via #hashtags. I even did my MA Leadership project on the use of social media to increase collaboration in a school district. But I am largely invisible as a connected educator. So, in answer to Pernille’s question, here is what gets in the way for me.
Perhaps (as many respondents have suggested) it is partly due to being female and the demands of having children. In my case, it is also due to my tendency to avoid being in the spotlight. Perhaps it is due to my lack of confidence and my fear of saying something that might offend others. Perhaps it is because writing coherently is difficult for me; composing a blog entry takes an incredible amount of time. Perhaps it is due to the lack of skills I have related to using social media. (I just figured out how to link Pernille’s blog…took me 20 minutes to do it…I hope it’s right!) Perhaps it is due to my desire to be perfect. Perhaps it is due to feeling intimidated by all the amazing men and women educators I follow on Twitter. Perhaps, I feel I have nothing worthwhile to say. Perhaps, it is because I do not hold a formal leadership position. Am I the only female who struggles with these limiting beliefs? I doubt it. But enough of the rationalizations.
I do consider myself a leader, albeit a quiet one. I do not blog – yet. I do not engage in conversations on social media – yet. But as Tom Whitby stressed in his post on Blogs and Connected Educators, blogging is a critical step towards connectedness.
To be part of the change, educators need to be part of the process. They need to connect, comment and contribute wherever possible in our connected community of educators. That is where our voice as educators is the strongest. Connectedness is our best chance for positive change that is not mandated, or legislated, but rather collaboratively established.
As a continuing student of leadership, I have learned to stretch myself…to set goals outside my comfort zone. I have learned to be vulnerable. I have learned the value of written reflection. I have learned that it is important to discover and share one’s gifts. I have learned it is important to reach out and connect. So, to become a visible connected female educator, I will be blogging. I will be commenting on blogs and I will be tweeting original tweets. I will be asking for help from male and female connected educators. I will be looking for female mentors. And who knows, maybe a group of connected female educators will presenting soon at a conference near you! Are you interested?
P.S. I welcome your feedback on this first post!