Tech, Teaching and Me

Trying to turn off my brain by writing it down

Why and How of Being Connected

on March 22, 2013


Educators hear all the time about being connected, making connections, removing the walls of the classroom.This concept needs to be broken in two pieces.

The first piece is for the beginning professional educator who wants to know WHY? Why connect?The thought is, “I don’t have time for one more thing to do.”The answer is a bit fuzzy to understand from the outside looking in.You may not believe it, but frankly speaking, you create better learning experiences if you are connected to other educators.The best lesson plans, the best applications and the best tools are there for the taking. Why wouldn’t you? Why shouldn’t you make the time?

Now, that an educator is ready to make those connections, where do they go? What do they do? It can be a daunting challenge. Try one or a few of these approaches, websites, or communities and start to grow your own connections. Create your own PLN (professional learning network). After you pick the approach or the sites, keep trying. It will take time and effort, but the rewards are worth it. You didn’t give up when you learned to walk. You didn’t jump on a bike and roll away on two wheels. Why do you expect to effortlessly create a PLN?

Here are a few ideas and places to start.

1. Twitter– Okay….I love Twitter. I can’t emphasize this fun, engaging, easy tool enough. For those that say, “I don’t care what Ashton Kutcher had for lunch.” Guess what? Neither do I. What I do care about is the information the best and most amazing professional educators in the world have to share with me. The secret to Twitter is learning the #hashtag and all it has to offer me. Pick a topic, #edchat, #catholicedchat, #sschat, #5thchat and you will find valuable professional connections.

2. Skype in the Classroom or ProjectsbyJen– Have a great idea for a collaborative project and looking for classrooms to participate? Or, browse through all of the projects and ideas posted by the amazing Jennifer Wagner and see what you can join.

3. Edmodo/Schoology- Join one or both of these communities. Even if you don’t use them for the amazing educational platforms they offer you and your students, use these tools to join the many groups available and learn and connect with other educators. Be daring. Put yourself out there and connect.

4. Ask a Friend-Most of us have many teacher friends, in and out of our school. Ask your co-workers, “Do you know another 4th grade teacher who might like to blog about a book with my class?” You may not get a connection right away. But, keep asking. Eventually you will.

5. (Scholastic)Facebook Page -Do you use Facebook? If you don’t, perhaps you should check out the many professional learning groups available on Facebook. There are many professional connections and learning opportunities available through Facebook.

6. Students-My friend Barb Gilman (@barbinNebraska) mentioned this idea to me and I thought it was brilliant! A new student had transferred into her class. She was planning to Skype with the student’s previous class. What a great experience for the new student! Imagine if that connection builds into a collaborative project between classes.

7. Classes/Workshops/Webinars- If you participate in a professional development opportunity, take the plunge, be bold and pursue the connections outside of the environment. Other teachers welcome the idea and would be grateful for the connection.

8. Google+-I am learning the many opportunities available in this forum. The ability to have a variety of circles, personal and professional is a real plus. The variety of communities offers a wide variety of connections and learning.

9. Blogging-Blog for yourself. Read other blog posts. Comment on them. Interact and learn from the words of the authors. In most cases, they are just a teacher with a thought to share. Leave a comment. Think of a response and write your own blog post.

10. Classroom 2.0Powerful Learning Practice, Edutopia– Any of these communities have so much to share with you. Join a webinar. Take a class. Become powerful and connected.

It is time to make the commitment. Be consistent. Invest a small amount of time as often as possible. Don’t you have 15-20 minutes two or three times a week to learn amazing things? Do you have an hour a week to learn from the other educators who want to share their ideas with you and your students? Just Do It….you AND your students will be glad you did.

There are others. Pinterest and Scoopit come to mind.What do you use to connect? How do you use it? What other tools did I not mention that you find useful and engaging?

One response to “Why and How of Being Connected

  1. Great information! Thanks.

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