Finding Friendship Through Learning

This week was very similar to most, but because of scheduling conflicts, I only met with Eli once for two hours rather than twice for one hour. We again started with the alphabet, and although I still struggle pronouncing many letters correctly, especially the ones that have the “eh” sound, I am able to see definite improvement from week to week. Last week, I started spelling bathroom words like toilet, shower, towel, etc., and I tried to remember the meanings of all of them this week. Then I practiced spelling them. The last activity we did was form very simple sentences such as “I need to go to the bathroom” and others like that. Although there are many more words now that need to be memorized, I am finally starting to feel like I can actually communicate.

After our session ended last week, we talked about some of the culture he has experienced living so close to Mexico as a child, especially the food. He complained that all of the Mexican food in the Midwest isn’t “authentic,” but he does enjoy the queso at Escaramuza’s. This week, he brought it for me as well as tortilla chips and told me more about his experiences as a child. Beginning this project weeks ago, I thought Eli and my time together would be very formal and classroom-like, but I have been pleasantly surprised. We often enjoy snacks and very enjoyable conversation throughout our sessions. I have not only been learning Spanish but about the culture as well and have been creating a deeper friendship with Eli along the way.

Realizing this this week made me think about the personal learning networks (PLN) we have begun creating. Although Eli and I meet in person and not online, I think we still get some of the same benefits; we are sharing (he is doing most of the sharing) knowledge with each other. Also, since Eli began tutoring me in the language, other Spanish speakers on campus have approached me and asked about the experience and offered help as well.

Although this is more of a physical network rather than the digital ones we have begun creating, I am beginning to realize how helpful sharing learning experiences or knowledge with others can truly be. Learning Spanish on my own would have been a much more intimidating task, and I probably would have ended up choosing a different ILP; however, with the help of others, especially Eli, it is possible. This is something I need to remember when I start teaching my own class in just a few years. Although (at that point), I will have years of preparation, getting help from others, and helping others, is never a bad thing.

Expanding my Horizons

When first reading this week’s assignment of following at least 100 new accounts on Twitter, I was a bit shocked and reread the instruction multiple times. I thought it must have been a typo or something. 100? Really? When first trying to accomplish this seemingly impossible task, I couldn’t believe how many interesting accounts I found. I had a different Twitter account previous to this class, but I was new to the site and rarely checked my feed let alone tweeted anything. As I followed one account, three more great accounts would pop up. I focused on literature and education, and I figured I would have to broaden my search to other areas in order to reach the assigned 100 new people, but I was pleasantly surprised. I found English teachers, elementary teachers, principals, authors I like, accounts about new books; you name it. I’m realizing Twitter literally has an account for everything! I think that following 100 new people this week will give me a really great base for the future. I probably won’t find all of them beneficial, but as time goes on, it will be easy to tell which accounts will be worth keeping on my feed.

Something I found extremely interesting was the diversity I found in the accounts I looked through. I followed some higher-up people in education, and I followed some everyday teachers as well. I was also surprised that when I began following educators, other teachers I didn’t originally follow would follow me. To me, this shows how eager teachers with PLNs are to learn from others and how beneficial these PLNs really are. I wasn’t familiar with blogging before this class either, but there was a multitude of education and specifically English education blogs that will be extremely helpful to me in the future. What I appreciate about blogging vs twitter is that it has the potential to get more in-depth, but they are still casual and fun to read!

Everyone I followed was either involved in education or literature, so I think my PLN would value my posts if I included ideas or opinions on those topics.Something that may hinder my following base is that I obviously don’t have experience teaching English quite yet. I was a TA in high school and have observed many hours, but I don’t have any real experience. I definitely have much more to learn from my PLN than my PLN has to learn from me. I (as of now) don’t have much knowledge to share with them except for my ideas (that haven’t actually been tested out yet) and what I have learned from my professors here at CSC. However, as I become more experienced, I think my network will grow, and exploring what it means to have a PLN this week has really shown me how important it is to learn from other educators across the country and across the world.