Have you heard of Voxer? It has been a wonderful resource for my development as an educator. I wanted to take a moment to highlight for you how this new technology tool can be of benefit to yourself personally and professionally.
Connect with Likeminded Professionals
I have “met” some excellent individuals who have unofficially become my mentor(s). Twitter was my first platform for making these global connections, but now Voxer allows for a more personal interaction allowing our voices to strengthen the bond between us.
Once you get your handle set up (either through the app or computer website), start deciding who you want to connect with. You can do this one-on-one or in a group. I suggest starting with individual conversations until you get the hang of the tool, and then start asking around for Voxer groups to join. You are unable to search for a group or add yourself unfortunately. Therefore, I would use social media to get ideas of what groups exist and then have a member of the group add you into the discussion if they are able. (If you pay for the app, you get more perks and can add lots of people to a discussion, but the free version is what I use and I am happy with it). Once you are in, introduce yourself in 2 minutes or less and then start chiming in to the discussion. And don’t worry, if you feel like the group isn’t for you it is okay to exit the chat- I had to do this with a few chats that had TONS of people and my phone was going off non-stop!
The relationships you make in group chats will most likely turn to side-voxes, or one-on-one correspondence with another member that you feel most aligned to or excited to chat with on a more personal level; I have really enjoyed the side-voxes because that individual and myself were able to dig deeper on a topic brought up in the group chat without derailing that group’s discussion. Currently, I am really invested in a few groups: #PersonalizedPD, Edupodcasters, Talks with Teachers, #CMSk12Chat and #Educoach. As you can see, most of these chats have spun off from a Twitter chat (showcased with a hashtag symbol). Now we aren’t limited by 140 characters! The groups I am most interested in are focusing on topics that I want to learn and grow in, not just where I feel I have a lot to contribute- hello life long learner!
The key here is just to get started and the connections will naturally start to develop from there.
Engage in Book Club Groups
Some voxer groups come together to discuss specific topics as you saw above, but others come together to discuss impactful books they have come across as being helpful. I am currently reading The Art of Coaching by Elana Aguilar via #TOSAchat bookclub voxer group. I heard about this group while in another group I was in as well as through Twitter and was so excited to jump in to the discussion. As a teacher coach, this book is right up my alley! We never stop learning and growing and I look forward not just to what I will learn through the book, but what I will learn through the connections with others implementing the book ideas into their everyday practice. The stories that these educators share and how quotes from the book hit home with them really motivate me to better understand those teachers I work with and consider multiple perspectives before implementing my coaching plan.
What’s great about Voxer book clubs is you are able to use your time as efficiently as possible by not having to physically meet up to discuss a book. Plus with Voxer you can chime in when its convenient for you. No need to hop on the phone or online at the same time for a specific time period, just join the discussion as it fits your schedule and learn and grow when you can. Talk about convenient learning opportunities!
Experience EdCamp Virtually
Taking group discussion to the next level is the idea to use the format of an EdCamp to discuss a variety of topics using the tool of Voxer. Wow…life changing. Over Christmas break, I “attended” #EdCampVoxer. This was a powerful moment to stretch my own thinking and instructional practices. How it worked was anyone interested in joining in the fun were added to a main chat group. From there, educators shared ideas of topics they wanted to discuss. Instead of assigning topics to physical rooms and times as the EdCamp protocol states, new Voxer groups were established as the “rooms” and everyone could join and chime in at their leisure- again, no specific time you had to log in and no specific time frame to stay. The same idea was true about hopping in and out of rooms when you wanted without anyone taking offense to it. I joined quite a few groups and as always had to exit a few so I could keep up with the ones I was extremely interested in:
- Effectively Leading Teachers through Personalized Coaching
- Personal and Professional Growth through Mentors and Mentoring
- Building a Collaborative Culture through Peer Observation
- Increasing Student Ownership in the Classroom.
These topics I found interesting because they hit home with what I am currently doing as a teacher coach. I wanted to attend professional development to gain experience and exposure to being the most effective coach as possible. EdCamp was going to be the vessel that allowed me to gain this effectiveness without paying a dime- who great is that?!
I have heard administrators use Voxer to communicate with staff in their building instead of walkie talkies. I have heard other coaches using Voxer to leave feedback after an observation with a teacher so the tone of voice couldn’t be misconstrued, as it often happens in emails. I am sure as the app continues to hit educators’ hands, its use will grow in numerous ways and I cannot wait to check back in to update you on just that!
As you can see, Voxer is a tool that is created out of convenience for those that want to collaborate in an efficient and more personalized way than social media currently allows. It has opened doors for me by allowing relationships with heavy hitting educators to develop and expose me to thinking outside of my own to help me learn and grow in ways I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to benefit from if Voxer was not created.
I highly suggest you try Voxer out, even if just to talk to a friend!
How are you using Voxer to learn and grow personally and/or professionally?