This week has been a week like no other. I have been wanting to share with my followers, but not sure where to start. How do you share a broken heart? How do you not make reflection shallow? How do I write this and it not look like it is about me, because it is not. But it must be shared, the world must know that the tornadoes that hit the state of Alabama on April 27 is not just a special report on the news. We must not forget what has happened as we move into the next week.
Last Thursday, the day after the disaster, Dean Shareski sent out a tweet asking people to send a picture to a flicker account that somehow directly connected to learning at the moment. My first thought was, what a shame, no school during last 2 days and probably no school tomorrow. Then it hit me I had probably learned more involuntary during the last two days than I had ever before. I sent him a picture my friend took in the neighborhood he grew up in and for the first time I put my thoughts into writing. It was not as easy as I thought. Many typos as I pushed through tears and heart break to share what I am learning. We push as educators that we need to taking learning outside the classroom. Learning is best if hands on or through global communication. Isn’t that what we hear preached everyday? We talk about how the global community is important in so many ways. I saw this all come full circle this past week. I have seen my state become this small community via Twitter and Facebook.
The sharing started during the storm following the hashtag #alwx, the tweets and RTs were informing the area, most of which was already without power and cable from the storms earlier that day, what was happening and which areas were about to be hit. I felt as though James Spann‘s tweets where being watched by everyone the entire state with a twitter account. People started tweeting links to live streams as we all just sat there helpless and watched the tornadoes live on webcams rip through Cullman and then downtown Tuscaloosa. I next saw the use of these mediums as well as YouTube to show the damage before the sun went down in Tuscaloosa. Tweets about Pleasant Grove (the city I taught in before my current job) and how bad the damage, as well as other near by cities. I then watched it change again to people using the mediums to look for people dear to them, to DM me that someone may no longer be with us or to tell me someone was OK. Now the use of the medium has changed again, it is being used to tell the story and mostly to help get supplies to/from volunteers. It is amazing to see tweets or FB post “This area needs ___” and by time you RT the post they have found someone with the supplies. I watched my friend Casey Graham who grew up in Pleasant Grove raise $100,000 in 24 hours from his home on crutches in ATL, all spreading the word through social media. The small world this week got smaller. And I am so thankful for it.
I get frustrated again and again that I do not get the opportunity to use social media to connect my student to others for learning. This week was reminder of how important these tools and teaching students how to use them safely. It is our world and it is important. It takes our learning from 8-3 to 24/7.
On a personal note, my family and home is safe. I cannot be more thankful than I am today. Many families are not together right now. Many are hurting. Some of the communities destroyed are very close to me, only few miles away, while though Tuscaloosa though 35 miles away, is a place that I visit on many occasions. Please remember the families who have lost their homes and/or loved ones. Please remember rescue workers, like my brother a Tuscaloosa Firefighter, who has to leave his family everyday and work 12 hours straight to help other families who lost everything on the street lived on in college. Please remember the teachers like my friend Jenny who no longer have a classroom to return to. Remember my friend April who must go back and teach kids who lost everything.
Also remember our students as they return to school on Tuesday. Not sure how that is going to go. I know they have been sitting at home for a week and watching the events on TV all day.
Alabamians are strong people, we bounce back from hurricanes, oil spills, and tornadoes and we will bounce back from this one as well. We are hurting, we are all effected some way or another. Through the hurt the out pouring of volunteers, donations, workers has been amazing. I have always felt I lived in the greatest state/city and I know that is now a fact. It is amazing the spirit of people who have lost everything and on TV interviews start with “We are thankful/blessed.” #WeAreAlabama
Please considering helping others during this disaster:
Thank you all for inquiries over the past week, you are a wonderful family of people!