George Lucas Educational Foundation
Education Trends

Connected Educators: #140edu

August 10, 2012

I had the honor of attending and presenting at the #140edu conference put on this week by Jeff Pulver and Chris Lehmann. It was the perfect kick-off to what the U.S. Department of Education has deemed Connected Educator Month. The conference schedule read like a who's who of educators who use technology and social media to spread ideas and engage and empower young people. We were also blessed with a generous amount of student voices through both panels and individual speakers. Rather than go into detail about the conference itself, I decided to look through my own tweets and pull out gems from both days. Below are some quotes, ideas and nuggets.

Social Media as a Powerful Voice for Young People

"Social media is the real world so we can no longer say to kids 'when you get to the real world . . . ' Kids are not the leaders of tomorrow, they are the leaders of today." - @heoj on the way social media is allowing students to engage in real life activities that matter

The conference was a medley of student voices, with powerful stories and perspectives shared from young people. @chrislehmann interviewed @LilJaxe, a 13-year-old rapper with a speech impediment who discovered that when he rapped his stuttering disappeared. After the interview we enjoyed a talented performance of two highly energized songs throughout which @LilJaxe didn't stammer once.

We were also witness to a panel conversation between @allisonswu, @LuciaGrigoli, @MatthewAResnick, @TalkPolitical and moderator @InnovativeEdu, during which we heard stories of students changing the conversation in their schools around technology in the classroom, and about students taking responsibility for having their voices heard. We also heard from individual student speakers who shared their stories and their visions.

Words to Live By

"It's not about who's right or wrong, it's about how to get our ideas to work together." - @engaging_edu on diversifying our schools to include a variety of perspectives and ideas

"The crazy stuff is believing that you can't do stuff." - @jeffpulver on his life journey and what it taught him

"Don't be a martyr to save your kids. There are kids out there who need you everywhere and leaders who will support your growth @chrislehmann" - via a tweet by @InnovativeEdu

Reflections on Teaching and Schools

"The key factor for academic success is 'do I feel comfortable here?'" - @tomkrieglstein on using Dance Floor Theory to create schools where kids want to be and can be themselves

"Bad Schools are really leadership opportunities" - @tomkrieglstein

"I say to technologists, your technology is irrelevant, students and schools must be part of the equation" - a paraphrase of part of @blakeplock's moving talk about the marriage of technology and education

@shareski shared a powerful metaphor during his talk, comparing teaching to a Hollywood set. The actual filming of a movie never looks as good as the polished thing. He compared this to teaching, explaining that teachers want their teaching to look perfect from the outside, that we don't necessarily want to share the unsightly stuff that happens as we live and learn throughout the days, weeks and years. Social media, I would add, allows us to share the "behind the scenes footage" and allows us to learn from each other and reflect together on both our individual and shared experiences.

"Educators define who they are by what they do." - @chrislehmann speaking about how closely educators hold their profession to their sense of self

"Leave school before curiosity is beaten out of you." - paraphrase of @devenkblack speaking about why he chose to leave school and why it's not as scary a choice as you might think

Making and Building Connections

"A Jewish educator-type who likes technology? Amazing!" - @bncohen after I connected him to @dovemerson through Twitter

"It's a common misconception that educators who use social media to connect lack face to face social skills." - @NMHS_Principal on the stereotypes surrounding connected educators

I tweeted @tomkrieglstein's quote about "bad schools" to @MrsL132 in response to her article about her school in Philly being stigmatized as a "bad school." She and I both teach in Philadelphia, but have never met.

The Power of the Experience

Part of the beauty of this conference is the shared experiences among its attendees and presenters despite the limited time they have spent (if at all) face to face. These shared experiences lead to deeper conversations and a collegial atmosphere that breeds ideas. Previously cemented connections and the opportunity for continued conversation is what makes being a connected educator such a powerful experience. Social media brought this inspiring group of people together for two days, and social media will allow these conversations to continue, grow and evolve.

An author's note: the omission of full names is intentional. To learn more about these inspiring folks, follow them on Twitter!

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Photo credit: iStockphoto

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