As “Connected Educator” month draws to a close – I reflect on the importance of, and variety of ways, that an educator makes connections and ‘is’ connected. I know that the opportunities have never been more varied – but in order to ensure quality connections the way that one makes those is still very personal. For me the opportunity to connect has come in new ways – and one rather old-fashioned one.
My jump into ‘connectivity’ started with a blog. I wasn’t really sure why I was doing it, but something compelled me to start one. What a valuable experience. Blogging has done two things for my connections. In an obvious way it has led to conversations with those who have found and read what I have posted. These connections have served to reinforce or support what I have written and occasionally asked me to rethink things as well. The other connection it has forged is with me. Blogging is ultimately for me a dialogue with my professional self and it has truly helped me understand who I am as a teacher. What do I really believe? What insights have I developed? What growth have I shown? The blog has answered these questions for me and more.
Connectivity increased with starting a Twitter account. I can’t believe how I learn so much from the generosity, and honesty, of educators around the world. When you start as a ‘lurker’ you may not realize how great it can be. It wasn’t until I started tweeting that the depth of connections grew. Nothing is more invigorating as that moment you leave the ‘lurk’ and become a participant in your PLN. I have collaborated on rubrics with @natadel76 in Wisconsin, got edtech advice from @joedale in the UK and am hoping to visit with @catherineKU72 at her school. Following the #langchat hashtag led me to the weekly Thursday chats and eventually to being asked to join the moderating team (find them all here!). I would not part with the 140-character professional, and personal, connections I have developed.
In this day of modern technology there is also a traditional way; the old-fashioned ‘face to face’ connections. Despite being incredibly connected to the world outside, my school still provides the daily social and professional connections that continue to energize me. I am so privileged to have my colleague Cara Babson teach next door. The amount of sharing, planning and professional growth that has occurred simply as we wait for students at our classroom door is amazing. Cara and I share our snippets of what is happening in our classes, new projects, frustrations etc. Almost always at lunch my professional conversation continues with other valued friends – we debrief, problem-solve, console and laugh. In this day of ‘connectivity’ it is important to me to maintain these relationships.
How do you ‘connect’ professionally? I suspect your ‘network’ is composed of fibre-optic cable, and face-to-face conversations too!