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Posts Tagged ‘Educator’

Yes, the 30-Day Blogging Challenge came to an end for me, but thankfully now there’s Thoughtful Thursdays! The folks at TeachThought are encouraging us to blog on Thursdays during Connected Educator Month.

Here’s today’s prompt: What does “connected education” mean to you?

I have blogged quite a bit about being connected and the value of my PLN. Feel free to check out the tags to the right to view some thoughts about this from past posts.

To reflect on the question for this post, I’ll share events from recent days. This week in our schools, each of our teaching teams were given a half day out of their classrooms to plan integrated/interdisciplinary units. I sat in for some part of each team’s meeting. It’s been a whirlwind week; I’ve visited with 14 teams so far with one more tomorrow!

Throughout the course of these meetings, I’ve added technology integration ideas to the brainstorms and planning. I was happy to hear a number of teams ask how they could provide opportunities to move up on the SAMR model through different activities and events. I shared many ideas, like the Global Read Aloud, Mystery Skype/Hangouts, and classroom collaborations.

Some teachers asked, “What would be the one activity or tool that would give the most bang for the buck?” I do find that the topic of blogging is usually my answer many times to such question; blogging accomplishes so many things in a simple way. Students are working toward Common Core Standards, technology standards, improving keyboarding in an authentic manner, and learning valuable skills about digital citizenship as they compose posts and comments for one another. They are writing for a larger audience, often beyond their classroom and even the school. This impacts their motivation and drive to write well. To kick it up a notch, teachers can connect with another class and leave comments for one another.

42 secondsThen I’m asked,  “How do you find other classes to connect with for this purpose?” I often have to say that I can help them connect through my networks and PLN. I can put it out there on Twitter, using hashtags that I know will reach the audience we need. I can access a number of Google+ communities on which I can seek other classrooms for projects or blogging. I can reach out directly to groups that I’m a member of, or even specific individuals that I’ve collaborated with in the past. I’m ready to go and help them connect. But why can’t they do this themselves? They can, but are much more limited if they’re not connected educators.

I notice that I feel I have all of these networks and resources, but that some of the teachers inquiring don’t. That’s the benefit of connected education for me. I can turn to experts around the world for assistance, not just those in my school building. I can seek answers to specific questions and get better results than I would with a Google search. I feel informed about developments in education because I’m reading tweets, posts, and articles I come across daily. I access and pass along this information and then find that I’ve seen it long before it gets shared through other channels. As a recent commercial stated, “that was so 42 seconds ago.”  I’m on the leading edge.

This is a ramble more about being a connected educator than connected education. But it’s all connected, right? There’s real value in this, for many adults and many students.

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observationToday’s post topic from the 30-Day Blogging Challenge says: Discuss one “observation” area that you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation.

I once was uncomfortable being observed. Now I relish the idea mostly due to the feedback I receive. I am the first to admit that I have room for growth (don’t we all) and welcome other perspectives on how I might grow and learn as an educator.

I think if I truly had to reflect and pick one observation area, I’d select that of Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques (from Charlotte Danielson’s framework). I’d like to further engage those with whom I work (adults or children) by asking powerful questions and generating rich discussions that impact learning. I will work to build my repertoire and observe those I feel do this well.

 

Image: creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by Ralph Hockens: http://flickr.com/photos/rhockens/3316651856

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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?

Image: Creative Commons/flickr http://flic.kr/p/7cTJiJ by moonty

Image: Creative Commons/flickr http://flic.kr/p/7cTJiJ by moonty

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!

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to work with 12 colleagues to get them started on the road to connecting. Here’s the post where I shared some of the reflections from our time together. We learned about Twitter and Diigo, as well as other great networks and tools like the Educator’s PLN and KidBlog. The group was energized and ready to get connected.

And then school started. 

 

Now everyone is overwhelmed and incredibly busy. Despite my attempts to repeat, “just give it 15 minutes a day”, the attention and focus is receding quickly for many of the teachers. They’ve also heard me say, “the more you put it, the more you’ll get out.” But some just can’t see the benefit of putting something more in at this time.

I can continue to gather great resources about getting started on Twitter, how to connect, building your PLN and more, but how do we help others see why they must maintain the energy and enthusiasm when you’re new to all of this, you’re busy and it’s not paying off?

This past week’s #edchat during the day was terrific, with educators sharing the value of being connected and how it’s impacted their teaching. I could take a bit of time for that chat, but the teachers with whom I worked couldn’t at that time of the day.

Please don’t get me wrong; there are some who are determined to make this work. They’re trying out chats, lurking, and slowly getting familiar with the tools. But how can I help the others?

 

Image: Creative Commons/flickr by mstephens7   http://flic.kr/p/bVaXc

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