I saw this tweet from Terry Small this morning, and it made me think that each of us has the opportunity to have the Biggest Watercooler on Earth, our Personal Learning Network.
I know that I would not be alone in saying that my Personal Learning Network is awesome. Each day, I still find it amazing to see the blur of information that comes across my screen when I am on Tweetdeck. I usually have multiple threads open on my laptop, ranging from #cpchat and #edchat to more subject specific threads such as #engchat, #mathchat, #scichat, and #sped chat. And every 20-30 seconds, another one of our colleagues standing around our giant watercooler tweets an idea or link that they feel might contribute to the greater good in education.
I find it even more amazing that any of us can put an idea out there and get almost instant feedback. Whether it is Google Doc with a form that we need edited, a video that we have produced, a search for tried and tested resources, a good friend looking for some thoughts on a job interview, or just a question that we might have that on which we might want some different perspectives, it seems that it is only 140 characters and a few scant minutes before we have some sort of response. Brilliant.
Stephen Covey described a concept that I believe is very important to our watercooler, the mentality of Abundance:
"Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.
The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit – even with those who help in the production. The also have a a very hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people.
The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flow out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity."
Terry Small also added to my thoughts on the watercooler with another tweet this morning:
"Everybody has a skill of some kind. When you share it you not only have the power to help others,but you enhance your own skill by owning it."
It is from this perspective that I am finding myself becoming a PLN evangelist. The people that are a part of each of our PLNs are people with incredible and varied talents. They are genuine in their beliefs, and have the courage and the mentality of abundance which drives them to share their ideas with each of us.
I am sure that my colleagues and staff roll their eyes when I pass on links to them, show interesting tools at staff meetings, and generally talk about the litany of resources available from all around the world. I walked into a social setting prior to a meeting last week in Vancouver, and the first thing one of my colleagues said to me was a sardonic "So, how's Twitter lately?" followed by a couple of snickers from around the table. All I can do is smile and continue to tell the stories of all of the things that are available to them just a few short mouseclicks away.
I just want them to come and stand by the watercooler.
It's a pretty great place.