In January 2018, approximately 100 educators came together using the Voxer app for a book study of my book The Four O’Clock Faculty. The book study was organized by NJ Educator Matt Larson and was intended to last approximately four weeks.
I was excited to be able to participate with so many wonderful educators and share critical discussion about one of my favorite topics: Professional Development. Using Voxer turned out to be the right tool! From the get-go, participants were able to connect and share their experiences, and the audio messages allowed for conversation to continue throughout the day.
As the group approached the four week mark, many realized that the discussion needed to continue because everyone participating was experiencing tremendous growth as educators.
“Should we continue this group beyond the book study to talk about other education topics?”
The question was asked and answered quickly. The majority of the group wanted to move forward. The next question revolved around whether we should change the name of the group.
I’m honored that the group decided to move forward as the #4OCFPLN.
Discussion continued well beyond those four weeks. The discussions became more intense and more personal. The discussions started early in the morning (for those on the East Coast) and ended early in the morning (for those on the West Coast)! The #4OCFPLN became a #PLF – a Professional Learning Family!
There was no topic in education that was off-limits. Status quo was challenged. Opinions were challenged. Even though difficult questions were asked, the group remained collaborative, supportive and positive! In fact, the positivity and support is what has allowed the group to continue sharing and learning together, almost a year and a half later. The discussion is still vital and continues to push everyone in the group.
As we speak, I have more than 9,000 unread and unheard messages. The group is prolific. They can’t stop being passionate about education, after all.
Of course, participants have come and gone, although there are many who have joined because of the impassioned spirit that everyone in the group shares. As a participant in the group, I quickly began to “fall behind” in discussions. I don’t participate on a regular basis anymore, but check in when I am able to. There have been several mini get-togethers, and I was fortunate to join several of the #4OCFPLN members for dinner last year.
The reason that I write this post is to talk about the ROGUEs. The group of passionate educators known as the #4OCFPLN continues to challenge each other every day. In the Four O’Clock Faculty, I introduced the idea of the Relevant Organized Group of Underground Educators (ROGUE). I suggested finding one’s ROGUE friends – those who would stretch your thinking and challenge you to become a better educator. The #4OCFPLN are the ultimate definition of going ROGUE.
This summer will mark a special occasion for the #4OCFPLN. On Wednesday, June 26th, at the ISTE conference in Philadelphia, 17 members of the group will share their story about how they took charge of their own professional learning. When I first started writing the #4OCF book, one of my goals was that educators did exactly this – took the ideals and spirit of the #4OCF and changed professional learning for themselves and others.
To the #4OCFPLN, I want to express my gratitude for caring so much about your own learning, for keeping the spirit of the #4OCF alive, and for being a part of my #PLF.
Can’t wait to see you in Philly in June!