Last October, I joined the team at Tynker, and it has been an exciting ride when it comes to finding my tribe. I have been in the EdTech community for several years now, and I have a vast swath of friends and colleagues that I can depend on. They have been built through years on the conference circuit and participating in things like Twitter. I lacked a tribe, though around what I actually did at Tynker. That all changed in the middle of July.
I have learned over the years that my favorite PD's are the ones that let me pull out with a group of like-minded people. Spending that quality time allows you to not only work and grow together, but it also allows you to socialize. It's a time to get close, and I had the privilege of leading something like this in the middle of July thanks to the Infosys Foundation.
One of the Infosys Foundations goals is to enhance computer science education across the country, and one of the ways they do that is through a summer institute called PathFinders that becomes summer camp from teachers. I helped lead a full week of PD for those that signed up for the Tynker track, and I am so happy that I did.
We repeatedly talked during the week about coming to PathFinders to find your tribe, and I think our group for sure did. Sometimes in schools, that can be incredibly hard. Just because you teach the same thing or the same grade level, does not necessarily mean those folks are your tribe. I know from personal experience I struggled with that because I was the teacher doing video and creation projects. There just weren't many Social Studies teachers that thought the same way I did. I needed to go outside my school to find the group that I could learn and associate with, and finding that tribe is especially essential when you are talking about coding.
Coding is at a place where so many know it's essential, but there aren't necessarily set standards for it everywhere, and a large swath of teachers don't know how to integrate it. That's why this week was so important. We were able to give almost 40 teachers background and experience with both coding and Tynker, but the best part might have been giving them the group that they can continue to collaborate with and feel community. That's what is going to carry them.
If your reading this and you feel like you don't have that tribe, start going outside your usual circle. Things like PLC's and grade level committees have their place, but they aren't always the best place to get you where you need to be. An excellent place to start would be to begin participating in Twitter chats. They are discussions on a specific hashtag (# and a keyword) that put like-minded individuals in the same place. You never know who you will find, and they may become a fast tribe member.
You also can get yourself out there. I started speaking at conferences, and you quickly find like-minded people who are doing the same thing. All it takes is applying. You can also apply to academies like PathFinders, Google Innovator, and Raspberry PiCademy. I have done all three, and they were some of the best PD I have ever had.
Don't hesitate to find the tribe. Education is one of the most rewarding professions you can be in, but it can also be an incredible drag. You need that group who thinks like you and who can pick you up. It's just a matter of finding them.