As a first year teacher at Dr. Mary Jackson School in Keg River, Alberta I had a strong urge to stay in my class room. Not that I wanted to be unsocial, I simply wanted to work hard in my class to be the best teacher I could. Soon though, I discovered I needed to leave my class room and go into the hallway to connect with the others teachers in the school. I did learn a lot in my first year, but I also learned a lot by connecting with others.
That was 1990, now in 2013 I still need to go in the school hallway to connect, but now the hallway is much larger. With the many gadgets we have I can now connect with many more educators; those next door and those across the entire globe.
Here are some ways I feel the current educator needs to connect with others:
Create and expand your PLN (professional learning network). Twitter has been a key way for me to do this. It is a great way to find like minded people, but it is also an excellent way to find individuals that are outside of your comfort zone. Educators that challenge your views. Educators that simply “get you thinking”. By connecting with educators from around the world, I do believe I am a better teacher and a better principal. As part of my learning on twitter, twitter chats are a very enriching activity. I strongly encourage all educators to try a twitter chat. Here is a good site to find a listing of educational twitter chats. Twitter has also been a valuable source of resources. Here is a simple infographic a member of my PLN shared:
Last year, if you would have told me over 2,000 people, from 22 countries, have read one of my blogs I would have said, “impossible”. By blogging I have connected with other bloggers. Although I do not enjoy reading a research book, I can easily find time to read a short blog.
Another way to connect is to put yourself “out there”. This can make some people feel uncomfortable, but just like the class room the more you share the more you learn. In the class room I have always shared my life with my students. Now I need to share with my PLN. Just recently I have tried this in two ways. Firstly, I started an about.me page. This is a simple way to share information about yourself in a quick way. This week I had 11,337 people view my page. I know not all of these people were educators, but some were. My about.me page has connected me with educators from around the world. Secondly, build an Vizify page – here is mine. It is another way to share with others. By sharing, learning will occur. The more you share, the more you will learn.
Simply put, by becoming a connected educator I think I have become a better educator. Don’t we owe to our students to become better? If you want to improve your teaching, get connected – the sooner the better.