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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

What Does It Mean to Be a Connected Educator?

What Does It Mean to Be a Connected Educator?

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For many of us, becoming a connected educator transformed our lives. Suddenly, we had access to networks of experts and peers invested in improving education practices and willing to share their favorite tools, resources, and strategies.

It's this culture of sharing that we want to celebrate this October for Connected Educator Month.

So share with us: Tell us your stories about being a connected educator. What has it meant for you? How has it transformed student learning in your classroom? What tools and resources do you rely on most?

Let the sharing begin!

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Marcie Lewis's picture

Through various social media tools (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, blogs, RSS Feeds) I have created my PLN - Personal Learning
Network. My PLN is a diverse group of educators from around the world that keep me connected with what is happening in a global context in the world of education. They are people who I have met at conferences such as ISTE 2011 in Philadelphia, classmates from my Master's program, respected authors, organizations, and teachers who I think are doing awesome things! Having a variety of perspectives and hearing about the challenges that other people are facing has definitely helped broaden my point of view and engage more critically in examining my teaching practice and philosophy.

Working in an small independent school, can sometimes be an isolating experience - as you can be the only teacher in a specific context, but it can also be an amazingly innovative experience because teachers are often encouraged and supported to explore new strategies and methods in their classrooms. Twitter has quickly become like having another Grade 4 teacher in my school, where I can go to look for advice, ideas, and support.

Jennifer Wells's picture

I did a post on my blog about this very topic not long ago. http://madamewells.blogspot.com/2013/08/how-i-am-and-became-connected-ed...

I became connected early, when I started my teacher training. I was a Journalism major so we were often doing things on computers and researching so I was already pretty savvy with tech, but my savviness kept growing. I took classes, trainings, attended workshops. I was ahead of my colleagues and everyone in the district but I kept growing my skill set and my tech knowledge. I loved working with tech and meeting people who worked with tech.
I started to work on my masters degree in Library Science and my interest in technology expanded. I started attending conferences, trainings, workshops, and eventually edcamps. I expanded my skillset by joining social media sites. I started tweeting and blogging and training people. I have taught my co workers new things and some are utilizing tools thanks to my "connectedness"
I am happy to say I am glad I became connected and I encourage everyone in education to consider taking the first step to do so as well. It could be as simple as joining a social media site and following a few people. It could be building a PLN on an educational site such as Connected Educators or Classroom 2.0. Maybe join Pinterest or start a blog. Attend an edcamp or a conference. Whatever it takes do it, you will never regret it and neither will your students.

Paul Signorelli's picture
Paul Signorelli
Writer-Trainer-Presenter-Social Media Strategist-Consultant

Just finished writing and posting a piece on "Acknowledging Connections, Community, and Learning through Connected Educator Month," which pretty much captures what being a connected educator provides for me (and, by extension, those I serve): tinyurl.com/ln5k289. Can't imagine being effective in training-teaching-learning without the strong support I receive from colleagues.

Zainab's picture
K-12 teacher from UAE, Dubai

different feeling
As a Master degree in interactive education students, it's a requirement for us to join a CoP. To be frank, the idea of CoP is not that clear in Arab countries, but as I am discovering edutopia I feel sorry for those days that passed without joining it.
I am trying to catch up everything. Thank you for all for the amazing website.

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

So many stories! So many different ways to connect! To my mind, this is the most powerful think about being a connected educator. You can use a lot of different tools to connect with so many different people - teaching can be isolating, so it is nice to know that there are ways to connect that allow all educators to talk to educators from all over the world! That's got to be a good thing.

Susan's picture

I transformed into a "Connected Educator" when I became involved with the 10,000 Islands Environmental Studies Program in 2011. The beauty of this connection happened due to an excursion my family and I experienced while on vacation in Marco Island, Florida. A random walk on the beach with the founder of the program, Chris Desmond, and my vision of teaching was transformed forever. My family and I were on our second trip on the Dolphin Explorer Boat and I felt the need to thank the Captain of the boat for such a fun and educational excursion. After a brief chat, Mr. Desmond mentioned they were going "Live" into the classroom at the start of the 2011 school year. As a reading support teacher, I did not see how an environmental studies program would "fit" into my goals. Fortunately, I stumbled upon the novel "Dolphin Tale, the Jr. Novel" on the plane ride home and realized the connection. I ran (..did not walk) into my principals office, shared the idea, received her approval and the rest is history. Now in my third year of incorporating this technology, I have witnessed my students become leaders among their peers and active learners. I am able to "break down the classroom walls" and invite marine biologists into the room on a weekly basis to share valuable and meaningful information with my students. My students see it as fun and exciting. They voluntarily and at times, BEG to be chosen to come to my room during lunch/recess to do "Go the Extra Mile Challenges" (research activities to extend what we are learning in the Program). It is heartwarming to realize that as teachers we are no longer limited to opening a curriculum based text book or having to "teach to the test". There are avenues to pursue that will open the doors to real-world and purposeful learning. The 10,000 Islands Environmental Studies Program will always be a part of my classes. As a teacher I see how the reading, writing and research are embedded and will contribute to the mandated state testing. More importantly ...I can also say this Program is helping to influence my students to become stewards of the environment. Imagine the possibilities. Maybe in the near future there would not be a need to do fundraising to help rescue abandoned or injured animals. Not to mention the empathy kids will acquire as well. Perhaps I am being idealistic, but I do know for certain- I have never been more fulfilled as a teacher. If you would like to join the fun visit: www.dolphinprojecteducation.org

Rafranz Davis's picture
Rafranz Davis
Instructional Technology Specialist, Arlington TX

As a classroom teacher, I was used to the closed walls of my classroom. I'll admit that I was even comforted by it. For years, I suffered a bit of social anxiety. Being around crowds of strangers literally gave me hives and made me sick deep within the pit of my stomach. Through twitter I was able to have conversations that would have been uncomfortable to have face to face. The crazy thing that happened was that the more connected I became, the more I wanted to connect face to face.
However, when it came time to attend an event, something almost always held me back.

Last summer, I attended the SEE Summit in Canada for other SMART exemplary educators. To put things into perspective, I was this socially anxious person, attending a week long event, staying with a total stranger and it was in an entirely different country! That week was the single most important week in my connected life.

Not only did I make it, but it was during that week that I was contacted by a principal in another school district to interview for a leadership role in his school. Surrounded by my new friends and former strangers, I agreed to meet with him and I felt empowered.

This past year, I spent my time making up for all of the events that I feared before. I attended 5 edcamps, TCEA, presented at ISTE and attended other local events as well. I even started blogging!

This past summer, I even spent a week at the DEN Summer Institute with other Discovery Educators! Ironically, while in Vermont, I was interviewed via skype for my current position as an instructional technology specialist in another brand new school district. My job is literally to connect, share and teach an entire school district of strangers in various new locations. I do this without a bit of anxiety. Being connected IS my new normal.

I am proud to say that when I walk into a room, I no longer get sick or feel the need to hide in the back. I look forward to sharing and having conversations. I look forward to the moments that I get to work with other teachers, helping them to grow in their practice.

The absolute best part about the journey of connectedness that I've had is being able to empower other teachers to find their voice and do the same.

After all, the cycle of sharing is what being connected is really about.

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