I love the Internet. I love that I can find out anything about everything (thank you Google). I love that I can keep in touch with friends and family. I love that I can browse through thousands of images and websites in my quest for the "perfect doll" and I love that I can network with other Early Childhood Professionals.
Over the last few months that last one has become something I do more of. I am a follower of many great blogs and have joined various Facebook groups designed for sharing ideas, supporting one another and reflecting on our practice. That sounds great in theory, but it would seem that a positive and reflective online group is becoming hard to find! In recent weeks I have seen arguments that have spiraled into name calling and at times downright nastiness. In the last few days I have seen many passionate educators leave these groups, taking with them valid ideas and opinions. I find this really sad.
Don't get me wrong - I love a good debate! I actually think it is totally appropriate and good for our profession to have debates about key issues. How else do we evolve if we aren't able to reflect on our opinions and practices or if we aren't challenged by others who are as passionate as ourselves? I have had some great professional disagreements online and "in real life" and have always walked away learning something. And really - how boring would the world be if everyone agreed with me? (although sometimes I wish they would!!)
So if you are going to use these networking groups (and I suggest you do!) below are the four rules that I would recommend imposing on yourself in order to stay sane!
I would really like to elaborate on the second and fourth point.
I am a passionate advocate and I will never back down or apologise for that. When you have a strong belief or understanding that is supported by theory, research or regulations and someone is doing something that contradicts that and is detrimental to children, you have an obligation to speak up. When I read about someone leaving an educator alone in a room with children - I speak up. When someone says that you will "get in trouble" during assessment if the children climb trees - I speak up. I always try to do this nicely and to back up what I am saying with regulations, law or research.
As I said before, I love a good debate, but there are times when it is just not worth having an argument. Sometimes, for whatever reason, there are people who just want to get into a fight. Maybe they have had a bad day, maybe it is a particularly sensitive issue for them personally or maybe they just want to argue! I think unless you have something productive or purposeful to contribute...just keep on scrolling. If someone says something nasty... just keep on scrolling. I'm not saying we should necessarily back down - I believe it is important to stand up for yourself and to hold people accountable for their actions and attitudes, but sometimes it is just not worth the stress to engage!
Social networking isn't going to go away - so we may as well make the most of it and view it as an opportunity to grow as a professional and to build a community of passionate, opinionated individuals!
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