Blocking The Echo Chamber

Danika Barker (@danikabarker) is a high school English teacher that I learn from regularly on Twitter and really respect a lot as an educator. She’s mentioned before that Twitter can almost be like an “echo chamber.” This is very true. Often we post tweets or share blog posts, and there’s numerous responses echoing how wonderful the ideas are that we shared. Yes, positive comments are always great to hear. They’re appreciated! That being said, I also appreciate the comments where people don’t agree with me. I appreciate those that question what I do, or those that share differing viewpoints. It’s through these other comments that I’m made to really reflect on what I do and why I do it, and this reflection is what makes me a better teacher.

Yesterday, I blogged about a change that I’m making to my literacy program. This change was inspired by Angie Harrison (@techieang), but I tweaked it to best meet the needs of my students. On Saturday night, I engaged in some online discussion about this change that I was making, and this conversation inspired me to blog about what I was doing. Truthfully, this was a hard blog post to write. I know that people having varying views on how to run literacy workstations, and I know that my views differ from some educators that I really admire and respect. I wasn’t sure that I wanted people to question my choices. But then I started to think: I know what I do and I know why I do it. I believe in the choices that I make, and I know that these choices are best for my students and their different needs. I respect others that I interact with online, and if people disagree with what I post, that’s okay too. I can either explain the rationale for what I do, or I can learn something new and change again. Either way, this is a win-win situation.

So I decided to publish my post, and as expected, not everyone saw things the way that I did. What was great though is that people commented on my post and shared their differing views. They weren’t mean or negative. They explained why they thought what they thought, and they encouraged me to share my thinking too. We were all having a grown-up conversation online, and from the ideas shared on this post, I’ve been thinking even more about what I plan on doing and how I can make my program even better for my students. What I liked best about our conversation was what Celina Brennan (@celinabrennan) shared in her comment:

We all teach for the students, so shouldn’t they be at the forefront of our conversation?

Thank you to my amazing PLN that blocked the echo chamber, shared their differing views, asked insightful questions, and really pushed me to think why I’m making the choices that I am and if these are the best choices to make. As Colin Harris (@digitalnative) said today, when referring to the learning that happened as a result of the discussion on yesterday’s blog post, I’m “learning at the speed of collaboration.” Wow! So insightful, and so true.

Just think, if it weren’t for Twitter, how else would I have an amazing teacher from British Columbia, an incredible educator from Washington State, a terrific teacher from Melbourne, Australia, an outstanding, independent educational consultant and worldwide leader in oral language literacy learning, and so many other fantastic educators and administrators even take notice or care what I’m doing in my classroom? Twitter’s allowed me to learn and share on a global scale. 

How’s Twitter impacted on your teaching and learning? I’d love to hear about your experiences as well!


10 thoughts on “Blocking The Echo Chamber

  1. Aviva,
    Thank you for “echoing” my comment. These conversations are the kind I hope to run into each day. The positivity allows me to make personal growth, which in turn aids in the growth of my students. One thing I have realized the most over the past 3 years is that the celebration of the individual (educator or student) empowers people. We are all unique and need to be able to express our perspectives in order for true reflection to occur. As we engage in conversations we must be mindful of the others we affect, have empathy for their perspective, truly listen to their voice, and show genuine compassion as we support one another. The conversation that occured yesterday displayed all of these factors.

    I always enjoy the conversations I have through my PLN because I KNOW we are all different, and I appreciate the ideas and positive challenges I encounter through conversations. The perspectives I encounter are honest, yet respectful. Participating in Twitter conversations, #chats, blogs, and Webinars are some of the most powerful forms of Professional Development I have ever experienced. I grow each day through the thoughts, words, and suggestions that cross my personal learning path.

    Thank you for continuing to push my thinking! I look forward to the inspiration that lies ahead…

    OH! and @digitalnative, “learning at the speed of collaboration”… I LOVE that!

    • Thanks Celina! I love how you push my thinking forwards too. I loved the start of your comment on that blog post because it was so very true. Students ALWAYS need to come first, and it is great that even with differing opinions, all of us agree with this. We’re all looking out for the needs of our students, and trying to do what we think is best for them. I think that the dialogue becomes a lot richer as a result.


  2. I would like to add that I thanked you for the ECHO because sometimes a simple positive shout out can be equally a powerful when you know the depth in which it comes from. But that occurs after conversations such as these are had. They turn a simple word or phrase into so much more in the future. 🙂

  3. First off thank you for the kind words. Amazing may be a bit strong but I do love to learn and grow (just not outwards). My teaching is constantly changing, and I hope (believe) for the better. I can’t thank you enough for pushing my boundaries CONSTANTLY!

    I really appreciate that I can share my thinking with you, even when we don’t think the same way. I love that by having a different view point than you that I strengthened your view point. I think it strengthened mine too and made it clearer to me why this year I have walked away completely from doing literacy stations with my class. Obviously that is another blog post for me to write.

    I also agree that the “echo chamber” is alive and well on Twitter and in many comments on blogs. I do feel it is important to celebrate and share the “good” in case someone missed it the first time. But like you, a little challenge is good too, as long as it is done respectfully.

    So many changes for me since discovering twitter and I LOVE it! Thanks for playing such a big part in my professional growth. Karen

    • Thank you so much for the comment, Karen! You’ve driven so much of my own professional learning, both in the support you show and the questions you ask. Thanks for sharing what you really feel on this blog post of mine, and starting quite a great conversation too. It was wonderful how we could find the similarities in our beliefs as well as the differences.


  4. Great post Aviva!I’ve been swamped for the last 14hrs…still a long night ahead tonight. I want to go back over all the threads of our interactions and digest them all. Will reply when I get a chance 🙂

  5. I’ve had a twitter account since August, but just recently realized the value as a professional development tool. I’ve joined the #D5chat on Friday evenings, North American time, but Saturday morning, my time. I’m hoping to share with some of my colleagues the fun and learning that can happen. I’ve invited them to a twitter party Saturday morning. We’ll connect to the projector and they can see how it happens and decide if they want to join in the fun and learning themselves. I also end up with about 10-15 tabs open every time I look at twitter. Too many great resources. That is how I found you!

    • Thanks for the comment, Jean! I’m glad that you participate more in Twitter now and see it as a great way to share resources and learn new ideas. I love your “Twitter party” idea as well. Thanks for sharing!


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