Connecting educators with online communities to advance their professional learning is the goal of the first Connected Educator Month, a U.S. Department of Education initiative that kicks off today, August 1, and continues through the month. The flurry of keynotes, panel discussions, book chats, and other interactive online events should give participants plenty to think about and, more importantly, discuss with colleagues as they head into the new school year.
While we all know there is no such thing as having a "summer off" as a teacher, the summer does afford us the time to do some exploring. I wanted to share some things with you that I think are worth exploring while school is out.
The evening was filled with tales of despair, struggle and ultimate success. The Carlston Family Foundation was recognizing six outstanding California teachers, nominated by their former students who graduated from high schools in high poverty/high risk environments and went on to succeed at prestigious universities. An appreciative audience of family members, friends, students and colleagues were alternately roaring with laughter and fighting back tears, as they listened to the teachers describe their journeys from cluelessness to mastery in the classroom.
A student I taught 12 years ago (when she was in the sixth grade) emailed me recently sharing that in the fall, she will become a middle school English teacher. "That was the best year of school for me," she said, "I just want to help other kids have an experience like that." I was thrilled; what more could I want?
When I was a kid, some of the things I enjoyed most about summer were swimming and banana splits! Yes . . . you heard right. Banana splits! They were my fave summer treat for many years, and I will always remember them with great fondness. As this summer has started, I've seen my PLN (personal learning network) sharing great ideas of how to spend the time in fun and frolic! I've also seen great ideas posted about how to get the most out of our summer learning time. I share this simply to say that as we seek ways to do some summer learning, we need to do it in a way that (like my banana splits) we will remember fondly.
When people ask me if I'm taking some time off while school is out, I respond, "a little," being intentionally vague. I'm embarrassed, actually, that I'm taking so few days off this summer (a total of eight, really).
"It's my choice," I add. "This is self-imposed." But is it, I wonder?
It's summertime: time to relax, refresh and get connected. Joining an online community of science teachers is a great way to find resources, inspiration and like-minded colleagues to collaborate with as you re-tool your courses for the next school year. The list below is a good starting point to find a community or two that meets your needs. However, the list is not exhaustive. Use the comment section to share any online groups or communities that you find valuable!
Social media has been in a buzz with David McCullough Jr.'s Commencement Address at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts: "You're not special!" If you have not read it yet, here is a brief overview from Valerie Strauss's Washington Post blog
(with a link to McCullough's speech).