A much sought-after edTech star speaker, Shawn was kind enough to stop by our office in the cloud for tea. Not really, but we like the image of him sipping along with us while discussing his 20+ year career as a middle and high school teacher. One of Shawn’s passions is creating online communities. In fact he founded #sschat, #engsschat, and #1to1techat on Twitter. Read on! And you can find more of Shawn’s writing on Mindshift and Free Technology for Teachers (see our interview with Richard Byrne for more on the latter).
TT: Why did you initially decide to become a teacher?
SM: I knew I wanted to be a teacher my senior year in High School. I just felt that I could help people and help to make school meaningful to them. I've always wanted to make learning relevant and allow people to express themselves in their learning.
TT: How did you move from being a classroom teacher to being a consultant / writer?
SM: I never gave up one for the other. I am still a classroom teacher and a department chair. I love to be able to go to schools and work with them as they try to address their needs and implement new technology. I always grow from the experience and I am able to bring something back that helps my students.
TT: How have you gained your following on social media do you think? Top tips?
SM: I started on twitter just listening, but things got really good when I started sharing my practice and accepting feedback. That’s why I initially started using Google Docs. Eventually I went on to organize the #sschat community for several years. After that I created the #1to1techat community and ran that for several years. Both of those gave me the chance to travel and meet many people across the country. Those relationships led to working with EdTechTeacher. My twitter followers are built from working within all of those communities and sharing my teaching practice.
My best advice is for you to go where you grow and share what you learn. Someone out there is walking the same path and will appreciate what you do.
TT: Why do you think it is important to grow as a teacher / share your ideas with others?
SM: Sharing your practice and contributing to others is a way to gain valuable feedback. Since I have been sharing on twitter I have seen much of my work improved by others. The overall result is better quality materials, better ideas and more options to help my students in the classroom.
TT: Which are the top 3-5 pieces of work you'd like us to share in this blog and why?
SM: I am most proud of some of the work my students have created in class. Those assignments represent the freedom to express learning in multiple ways. I am inspired by the creativity that these awesome students put into their work.
Thank you, Shawn. We love seeing incredible student work. TechnoTeachers, what thoughts or new ideas do you have after reading Shawn’s interview?
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