October 28, 2013
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!
April 2, 2013
After a year of blogging on “Language Sensei” I thought it might be nice to reflect on what this process has been like. I know that those who blog strongly encourage those who don’t to give it a try but I don’t know if you really see how beneficial it is until you actually commit to it. So if you are considering blogging here’s some answers to those question you might be asking yourself.
No one wants to hear what I think do they?
Really? Don’t you? I started to blog not to have others read but really to initially talk to an audience of one – myself. Sitting down and talking about something – addressing a topic has helped me to actually see what I think and feel about a topic or an issue. A blog is your way to explore what your role in education and how you view your area. The best blogs I’ve read are not ‘experts speechifying’ but those that you can tell began with a self-dialogue. If others want to read it – fantastic – but ultimately a blog is for you….
It’s a lot of pressure to come up with post topics isn’t it?
The beauty of blog posts is that the best ones are short and pithy. They address one issue and are on things that you do, wonder about or have had to overcome in your classroom. Ideas come different times and I am getting better at either firing off an idea via Evernote – or entering a potential title directly into Edublogs. So think about the ‘how’ or ‘why’ or ‘what’ of what goes on in your classroom…there are lots of topics there.
I don’t have time to do it do I?
Time is a problem for us all. But remember – you aren’t writing a term paper or planning a speech. Your short comments/instructions should not take that long to get down. If you find yourself spending too much time on it then is it really a blog topic? – or is it more than one that could it be spread out over several posts? The beauty of many blogging services is that you can schedule publication for a later date. So if you have things to say that come all at once – then write early and publish later!
For those who are considering a blog but still questioning the process I encourage you to go for it…your personal teaching practice will benefit from the challenge!
May 1, 2012
While writing a request to my district for enhanced network access for my account (ultimately denied!) I had a chance to reflect on my current use of technology in class. Due to a lack of funding for ‘hardware’ , my technology integration has been primarily of a Web 2.0 nature. It reminds me that it is relatively easy to begin to incorporate new tools into teaching – even if your hardware setup is not ideal. So, as a teacher of “Japanese as a foreign language” in a public high school, where am I now?
- Edmodo for online secure class discussions with my students
- Twitter (2 accounts) one for class discussion & one for my PLN
- Edublogs – for my professional “Language Sensei” blog
- Google docs for student forms/ work etc
- iWeb for website – being shifted to another venue….(but I digress)
- YouTube for my class video channel – used for review/flip class work search
- Quizlet for all course vocabulary
- Jing/Audacity for screencasts for lessons
This didn’t happen overnight but in many instances once the ‘set up’ is done all that is required is minimal updating. As usual, I am always scouting for new tools and ideas on Twitter.
By the way…any thoughts on what to replace iWeb with?