October has been Connected Educator’s Month and as we come to the end of the month, I have taken some time to reflect on what it means to be a connected educator. One of the most significant aspects of being a connected educator is to have opportunities to connect with a variety of educators to challenge your thinking by examining multiple perspectives. We can not grow as teachers if we do not learn each and every day. We emphasize the important of fostering a growth mindset in our students yet do not seem to highlight its importance for teachers. Being a connected educator affords us the chance to pursue our passions and achieve our own personal learning goals and there are many venues in which we can do so.
I have successfully used Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and blogging to not only connect with other educators but also with my students and their parents/guardians. In this regard, our students need to be able to see the power of being connected. Many of them might not see the value of using a tool like Twitter for learning so why not help them get started by using their passions as a springboard? Furthermore, show them real life examples of how these types of tools have helped other students to learn and thrive? Equally important is modeling for students. We need to scaffold for them in order that they can use these tools for educationally relevant purposes. When I started using Twitter with my students, they were reluctant to get on board; however, with time and scaffolding they eventually came around. After about a month, we were tweeting questions to a scientist about stem cell research and the environment and it was extremely powerful!
My advice to those just getting started:
1) Jump In! There is no correct way to get started in becoming a connected educator. Go ahead and explore, think about your goals, what you want to learn, and then start connecting and participating!
2) Follow a Variety of People: it doesn’t matter what tool you are using but be sure to connect with educators that have opinions and views that are different from yours; it’s a great way to learn and grow!
3) Set Aside Time: block out a day in the week when you will connect with your community; it can everyday or once a week depending on your schedule and other commitments
4) Join: try joining a Twitter chat or a Google Hangout to get the feel for the different tools that are out there.
5) Ask!: When in doubt, ask questions; you have an entire connected community who would be more than willing to answer your questions and help you out.
Connecting helps us to reflect on and improve our practice, share tools and resources, and communicate with educators from around the world.
One of my philosophies has always been, “If we don’t take risks in our teaching, how can we expect students to take risks in their learning?”