As I viewed Dr. David White’s video “Visitors and Residents” (2013) and learned about the visitor/resident theory of internet use motivation, I saw my own movement along his continuum. I was rapidly moving away from the visitor end of the continuum toward the resident end around six years ago, but I have allowed my resident role to regress over the past four years. Fortunately, I am now moving back toward the role of a public educator on the resident end of the continuum.
Around five years ago, I figured out how the edtech world of Twitter, blogging, and conferences worked. I had the skills to become a strong resident and tested the waters. I engaged by making my classroom public, writing reflective blog posts, sharing resources, participating in chats, and attending conferences. However, I noticed that the amount of time and energy it took to maintain this level of participation distanced me from my classroom. I was connecting with other educators instead of my own students and their invested adults. I was focusing on trends in education instead of developments in educating traumatized foster youth. I intentionally migrated back toward the visitor end of Dr. White’s visitor-resident continuum.
But, I went too far. I zoomed too far into my campus. I practically stopped reading educational texts, stopped Tweeting, abandoned my classroom and professional blog, and moved my classroom’s online presence to a closed learning management system. I focused on building relationships with, and learning from, adults on my campus from partner agencies and instructional coaches provided by my district’s new administration team. I increased my responsibilities on campus by adding varsity volleyball coach and ASB advisor to my existing role as English 9 & 10 teacher and yearbook advisor. My professional online identity began suffering from neglect--but so did my teaching.
However, I still used Instagram to connect with educators in my personal learning network. This nudged me back over to the resident side of Dr. White’s continuum. Among a feed of pictures of my friends’ pets, children, and dinners, I began to see posts of creative projects from Reuben Hoffman (@reubenhoffman), makerspace tinkerings from Mark Rounds (@markrounds5), and conference networking adventures of Jeff Heil (@jheil65). They were having fun and just plain doing cool stuff. They made me want to jump back into the world of learning, taking risks, and sharing. I started photographing and posting events on my campus. But, I noticed that I was not posting many images from my classroom---because nothing worth photographing was happening! When I pulled back from reading, writing, and sharing with other educators to focus on campus, I had unintentionally pulled back from learning and challenging myself. Even though I had not heard of Dr. White’s visitor-resident continuum at the time, I realized that I needed to push myself back into participating in conversations in order to continue learning.
So, I am back! I am now intentionally pushing myself along Dr. White’s continuum from the visitor position I regressed into and back toward the resident side where I know I need to be in order to be an effective educator. I am Tweeting again. I am reading educational text--including books about trauma. I am teaching lessons worth sharing on Instagram. I am registered for conferences. I am learning Google+. I am locked into a Master's program that I know will hold me accountable in case I get distracted. And, I am writing my first reflective blog post in four years.
White, D. (2013, May 30). Visitors and Residents. Retrieved June 7, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sFBadv04eY