It’s been more than a week since I learned of the passing of my Twitter friend, Joe Bower. In those days I have read many tributes to Joe that made me nod and smile, realizing that others had made the same connections with him that I had.

I hesitated to write a tribute of my own; after all, Joe and I had never met face-to-face. But this morning I came across a tweet from Chris Emdin (@chrisemdin) in my Timehop feed that made me change my mind.

Chris’ tweet read, “I have never met many of my mentors. Some of them don’t even know who I am…but I am watching, and I thank them for guiding me.”

Joe Bower was one of my many mentors.

I never met him face-to-face, but our conversations via Twitter were like conversations between old friends.

What started out as a Twitter follow of a fellow educator turned into great admiration for Joe’s work with students and his unwavering efforts to do what was best for kids not what was convenient for adults.

Our conversations most often focused on intrinsic motivation and punishing with rewards. I think we really connected over the topic of reading for points and the damaging effects of Accelerated Reader.

Posts with titles like Working with Children When They Are at Their Worst made me stop in my tracks. Joe made me think about consequences vs. punishment, restorative justice, and power and control.

Last fall I co-taught an Introduction to Education course, an elective for high school juniors and seniors interested in becoming teachers. One of the assignments was to read education blogs. Joe’s blog, For the Love of Learning, was on the list we gave the students.

I sent Joe a Twitter message that read: Teaching an Intro to Ed class to 11-12th graders this semester. Had them spend time reading education blogs – lots of great conversations from the ones who read yours. Your ideas resonate with them. Favorite comment so far from one of the girls – I cannot be defined by a number.

Joe’s response: So awesome to hear!! Please extend to your students an invitation to write a guest post on my blog.

We extended the invitation, and they wrote a post which Joe published, Education Students Ponder the Profession.

It was a huge moment for our students – an opportunity to not only reflect on their learning but to share it with a wider audience. I wish we would’ve bottled up the learning that happened as they grappled with exactly what they wanted the world to read.

I came across a second quote that reminded me of Joe, this one from Mother Teresa. “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

 I never met Joe face-to-face but considered him a friend.

His posts and tweets challenged me to think deeply about education.

His passing leaves a hole in my PLN that will be next to impossible to fill.

I will miss the conversations.

I will miss reading about his continual growth as a teacher.

But I know that he cast a stone across the waters of education and created many ripples.

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