As it’s Connected Educator month, social media is chock full of opportunities to…well, connect. There are webinars, courses, connected cafes, special day events, contests, book clubs, and special interviews to name but a few of the events. Participating is lots of fun because you can network, acquire new tools, and learn.
But today, George Couros, in his Principal of Change blog tells another side of the connected educator story that is compelling and should give us all a bit of pause. He reminds us that in our enthusiasm or our singular focus (you pick) to celebrate the virtually connected educator, we often create a them versus us paradigm. And he reminds us that language matters. Do we really mean that being connected online is better than connecting in any other way? What is the connotation of the word “connected”? How can we personalize the idea of connection so that it makes sense for each of us?
Being a connected educator to me means:
- working together
- leaving isolation behind
- having collegial conversations
- being transparent
- being personally honest
- being positive
- having a progressive, forward-thinking stance
- risk taking
- widening one’s peripheral vision
- opening up as a learner
Can I be a connected educator without social media? Of course, I can. I have met with colleagues after school, in PLC meetings, collaborative inquiry sessions, and vertical meetings. I have attended traditional conferences and unconferences and I have visited other schools in other districts to learn first-hand how they go about the job of teaching and learning.
What social media offers me is choice, opportunity, and timeliness. Here is an initial list:
- Personal access to resources.
- Just in time delivery, which means I can collaborate with educators when I want to and need to. I can access information that is current. I can access a range of opinions and ideas.
- Ongoing support from members of my PLN.
- Ongoing learning.
- Opportunity to grow leadership skills.
- Opportunity to develop my reading, writing, and thinking skills via blog writing etc.
- Growth of empathy.
- To never feel alone again, regardless of the issue I am facing with my students’ learning.
Connecting with other educators from around the world does not necessarily make me a better educator. I still have to work at planning and assessment. I still have to develop community in my classroom. I still have to reflect on the craft of teaching and hone my skills. Connecting with other educators from around the world simply makes this work authentic, meaningful, relevant, purposeful, intentional, and dare I say it — fun.
I am a connected educator online because it keeps me on the edge of my seat and on the tips of my toes every day.
But then, I also have a tornado in a bottle sitting on my desk.