Teachers help teachers – at least the great ones do. Great teachers also ask for help – they learn where to go to find the best information and from whom to seek advice. Great teachers are experts in knowing when to give advice and how to find answers.
Almost immediately in my pursuit to improve as an educator, I began understanding how social networks enhanced communal achievement – and therefore individual achievement. Traci Gardner’s blog post “Twitter: 140-Character Professional Development and Writing Tool” elaborates upon this idea. In this post, Gardner quotes Alice J. Robison who writes:
Twitter and other constant-contact media create social proprioception. They give a group of people a sense of itself, making possible weird, fascinating feats of coordination.
The concept of social proprioception unlocks a world of understanding concerning the epistemological influences of social media. Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Ning, and a plethora of other social media become a type of social spacesuit. Social media allows an entire network to know what is happening to all the individual people within that network, and it allows all the individual people to know what is happening with each other. The media becomes a conduit that prevents people from floating away in a vacuum: it becomes the social spacesuit that allows individuals to orientate themselves, work together, and communicate in highly effective (and sometimes enormous) communities.
Whether it is a social media forum, an organization, or a professional learning community, a great teacher is networked into a group (or many groups) of great teachers. It is this need for community makes social media an essential tool in an educator's "tackle-box" - and more than a tool, it is the necessary suit to link into networks of greatness that transcend boundaries of distance.
In the words of Rudyard Kipling:
Now this is the Law of the Jungle -- as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back -
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.