It's 11 am on the weekend. You are enjoying a late breakfast with your family, sipping your coffee and listening to your children talk about their stuffed animals.
You hear a knock on the door.
You and your spouse exchange glances.
"Are you expecting anyone?" you ask.
You spouse answers your question with a head shake. You get up and open the door. You are greeted by a pair of clean-looking men in white shirts, ties and backpacks.
"Good morning to you, neighbor! Do you have a few moments to talk about the glory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus of Nazareth?"
You tell that you're sorry, but you are very busy at the moment. They smile, thank you politely for your time and move on.
You shut your door and go back to your breakfast. After the meal, you and your family get dressed and go out for the day to run your errands. On your way, you pass by a Women's Health clinic. It's an understated building and the only thing remarkable about it is the crowd.
The building is surrounded by people holding signs that read "Repent, Sinners", "You're Going To Hell" and "Come Back To God." There are a few members of the crowd who are yelling, but overall, it's a peaceful protest.
As different as their methods are, both of these groups have the same basic goals: bring non-believers under the protection and grace of God.
This is a vast oversimplification of the wide spectrum of Christian beliefs and there are those who argue that neither of these groups are actually Christians.
I'm not arguing that one group is better than another, merely that they have opposite tactics. The first group tries to convince people to accept Jesus because of the positive aspects of such a lifestyle (joy, love, peace, eternal reward) while the second attempts to scare people into believing out of fear of the consequences (hellfire, damnation, eternal punishment).
These tactics are not dissimilar (although admittedly not to the same extremes as the latter) to the educational philosophies of many educators.
"This stuff is fascinating and will help you to be a more well-rounded person" is a very different statement to students than "if you don't learn this stuff, you're going to fail." Both of these statements are accurate, but each puts a very different emphasis on the purpose of learning. Every person who has been to school knows at least one teacher from each camp.
Both types of teachers have varying degrees of success, depending on the students with whom they are interacting. We know that different students have different needs and, therefore, respond differently to different teachers.
I bring all of this up because I've been thinking about Twitter in general and the connected educator community in particular.
I am very uncomfortable with many sentiments that I see among connected educators that either imply, or state flatly that unconnected educators are bad at their jobs.
"If you're not connecting with other educators, you are doing a disservice to your students" comes from the same school of thought (although MUCH less extreme) as "DO THIS OR YOU'LL BURN IN HELL!" Both statements use shame and consequence to coerce people into doing something for which they may not be ready.
On the other hand, "Being connected has helped me to become a better teacher. I recommend it" respects where the other person happens to be in terms of readiness and willingness.
I know that connecting with other teachers on Twitter has helped me to become a better teacher. I know this for a fact.
I also know that if I had tried to connect even a year earlier than I had, I wouldn't have had the same experience.
I simply wasn't ready. I needed to be in a position where I was open to the experience, ready to be pushed from my comfort zone and out into open waters.
Perhaps a less controversial analogy than religion would have been the difference between a parent who stands in the pool, encouraging their child to join them, versus the one who throws the kid in and then calls to them to "just swim!"
I believe that most (if not all) teachers can benefit from connecting with other educators from around the world. I have seen first-hand how ideas that I've gleaned from Twitter colleagues, ideas I never would have had on my own, have changed my classroom for the better.
I want other teachers to reap these same benefits. But I also understand why they don't make the leap. I respect where they are. I feel as though the best way I can convince my colleagues to join me in this amazing life is to demonstrate the ways that it has made me a better teacher. I encourage them to join me and support them when they take the first steps.
What I will not do is shame them into starting a complicated venture for which they are not ready.
We shouldn't be shaming our students.
Why do we think it's ok to shame our colleagues.
I welcome feedback and your thoughts.