We need to be better connected to other teachers, administrators, and schools across the county and across the world. Connecting with other educators today means more than participating in department meetings, or grade level meetings, or attending an inservice or workshop during a professional development day. Connecting, today, means using social networks and online communities to connect virtually with teachers in other schools, states and countries, not just our colleague in the classroom next door. The tools you need to do this are right in front of you, everyday.
There are so many fantastic opportunities to connect with others, share and reflect on our work as educators. We need to take advantage of all the resources at our fingertips and we need to open our teaching practice to others - sharing what we know and what we do and reflecting on what works well for our students. Social networks such as Twitter (connect with me @tncollins97), resources such as the Google in Education site, free webinars and online conferences such as the FUN-damentals of Learning webinar scheduled for 7:00 pm on October 21, sponsored by Intel Education. There are even all sorts of online book clubs such as the Invent to Learn book club. There is an almost endless list of opportunities and resources, too many each week for me to try to list for you. Spend some time searching and exploring!
Does this take some time? Yes. Does this require a real desire to be a lifelong learner? Yes. Does it take some courage? Yes. Will connecting online with other educators improve our practice and have a positive impact on our work with students? Yes, I think so.
Our students already live in a connected world. It will be difficult for our students to learn with us if we aren't working in the same kind of connected world. Our students' worlds shrink when they walk into our schools every morning. Is this acceptable to us? We, as educators, need to be comfortable navigating in a connected world so that we can open our classrooms to all the resources and experiences that are available to us.
If you wait for someone to convene a workshop to teach you how to connect, how to engage, or how to collaborate online, you'll get left behind. I can assure you that I've never had a Twitter class, or a workshop about blogging, or an inservice about Google apps. I've learned by doing, through trial and error and through persistence when something doesn't work as intended. I've also had to be willing to acknowledge that I'm not always the expert - that I need to ask others when I don't know how to do something, and I've had to be willing to take some risks in order to learn. Don't we want our students to do all of these things? Shouldn't we be willing to do these things, ourselves?
We, as educators, are fond of saying that we want our students to become life-long learners. We need to model what life-long learning really is all about! I encourage each of you to take a step this month toward become a more connected educator - you will find not only resources and ideas but support and professional validation. Want to get started? Take a look at the video below for some ideas, and take the step!!