a ripple for you, clarity for me
This summer I’ve been practicing how to be an extrovert, stepping very much out of my comfort zone. I’ve initiated conversations, asked challenging questions, let myself sit in unfamiliar social situations, and, one of the biggest steps I’ve taken: I joined Twitter.
And it has been tough.
I’m an Instagram person, myself. And even on there I don’t post often. I like it because you eventually scroll to a point where Instagram tells you, “You’re all caught up!” I can take a breath and put my phone away. But with Twitter, it is never-ending.
I was sharing my Twitter woes with Rose Pillay recently, and she referred to it as a river. It’s constantly streaming with new information. According to the Disney movie, what Pocahontas loved most about rivers is “you can’t step in the same river twice.” Twitter is live. It’s what’s happening. Now. You never really “catch-up”.
Well, great. My scrolling efforts have been in vain.
But Rose elaborated. She sees Twitter as a river and her posts are pebbles she tosses into the river to make ripples. I loved that idea. I can’t forever be in the river, flowing with the current (events). I can stay out of it and contribute every once in a while. Toss in pebbles, make small ripples here and there, impact whoever sees it at the time, maybe make a worthwhile connection with someone.
This small aha has not only alleviated so much FOMO, but has also grounded me in how I can use this tool purposefully. How it’s not just a way to keep social, but a way construct the version of myself that I want to be: someone who builds and sustains relationships with like-minded people; someone who makes meaningful contributions to society; someone who is constantly seeking learning opportunities and ways to support others.
I’m reminded of a passage from Broadway legend Lin-Manuel Miranda’s book, Gmorning, Gnight: Little Pep Talks for Me and You (a book that’s actually a complication of his past daily tweets). It reads:
I wish you clarity today.
Clarity of thought, clarity of expression, and a direct
line between what you feel and what to do about it.
I wish you clarity tonight.
Clarity of self, clarity of purpose, and a direct line
between who you want to be and how to get there.
This little bit of Twitter clarity has helped me better understand how it aligns with who I am and what my goals are. I now have the skeleton of an action plan: rooted in this clarity, what will I do about it?
Keep tweeting, I guess.
I had a lovely coffee and conversation with Nina Pak Lui today—a connection I made from Twitter. Yay pebble-throwing! We nerded out on assessment practices. She shared about her work which aims to shape future teachers to be better assessors and practitioners so that future students are valuing Learning over Earning grades. I shared about Spinndle. Over and over again in my mind I kept coming back to this angst we both seemed to feel: how can we make students better learners?
Imagine if every student had clarity of thought and expression. They felt their learning and knew what to do about it. Imagine if every student had clarity of self and purpose. They knew themselves as a learner and knew their gaps and how to bridge them.
What are we as teachers, educators, and advocates doing to help foster clarity in our students? How do our systems and practices teach our students to understand what learning should be?
Big questions I don’t claim to have answers to. For now… *plop*.