Yesterday I had a follow up session with the participants from the summer course I facilitated about Becoming a Connected Educator. At first, it felt a little like we were young children at a birthday party. Many were initially quiet and reserved. A few started sharing. Then the conversation got going and the exchanging of ideas was quick and powerful. Realizing that this is what happens when we get together face to face, I reminded them of the value of relationships. We know one another fairly well, some better than others, and we’ve had this shared experience since the summer. We’ve connected personally. Why then, did we need to spend the time dipping our toes in the water at the beginning before we all jumped back into our cohesive group?
If we want to be connected educators, we need to be open to building those relationships and working to sustain them, just as we would in person. Relationships take effort and regular contact. One participant took the plunge last week and led a Twitter chat around the topics of literacy and technology. Someone from far away asked a question and wanted a resource that had been mentioned. My colleague was taken aback. How did this person find her chat when it was with people from our district? What should she do? I encouraged her to respond, provide the resource, build the relationship, and foster a new connection. All relationships take work, even the virtual ones.
We’re thinking about how we can illustrate our learning from the course and our efforts to get connected. We also want to communicate the value of being a connected educator for others in our district and beyond. The number of educators on Twitter, Google+, and other networks is growing, but there’s always that conundrum – how do those that are connected help those that aren’t? We want to do our part to, at the very least, get more of our local colleagues connected. We are planning a collaborative project… stay tuned!