31 October 2013

My Eleventh Hour Connected Educator Blog Post

For the entire month of October, I have had the privilege of publishing a daily blog post at my place of employment.  Each day I posted a profile of a Kentucky educator who's connected; these profiles were sent to me throughout the month and covered educators from a range of roles and regions.  It was a sheer pleasure to read what my colleagues in the state had to say about how they are connected.  In addition to reading and posting all the Kentucky educator profiles, I spent time following educators across the country and world who also wrote connected educator posts.  I even found humor in those who proclaimed connected educator month silly, nonsensical or annoying.

I also spent each day thinking about how I should write my own post about being a connected educator, and each day I put it off to focus on other things in life, including my current personal project and my commitment to practice a more balanced sense of living.

Now as we approach midnight and the end of the month, I decided it would be worth recording a few of my own personal thoughts about ways I'm connected and how it impacts my practice.

I am connected via multiple social media platforms as well as through other networks, some of which meet face-to-face.  I connect because I like to learn and with all the different people in my professional learning network (PLN) I have people from across the world from which to learn via Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, Google +, Linkedin, the NCTE Connected Community, R-Group Space and various Listservs.   I am learning from educators and non-educators alike; I'm learning from other learners who are equally curious about the world in which we live.

Since I moved an untold number of times as a child, teenager, and young adult, I have always enjoyed connecting with others and maintaining some level of contact with those left behind after a move.  For me, technology has made maintaining these connections more feasible.  I have a friend who teaches in France and another who teaches in China, and these connections help me maintain a global perspective--clearly essential in our increasingly connected world.  In addition to these friends, I have met new colleagues who teach in my very state but whom I never met prior to with connecting via Twitter.  I've met new colleagues from other states and even a few new colleagues who teach in other countries.  Though technology might not be the only way to connect, for me technology has impacted my practice by allowing me to connect with a wider and more diverse group of people who all bring different perspectives to an online conversation.  

One of the grumpy connected educator posts I read this month made a distinction between being a teacher and being an educator. This person said those of us who call ourselves educators are really just tyring to sound more important.  Well, for me, that's not the case (meaning, I'm not trying to sound important).  I call myself an educator because I no longer teach on a day-to-day basis in a high school classroom.  In many ways I'm still a teacher though and will never stop being a teacher. 

This semester I taught a pre-service class at the local university and was so happy to be back in a classroom on a regular basis.  Together, my students and I worked on literacy and being connected and prepared to teach adolescents in a digital world.  A favorite connection for us all this term was when the students commented on the blog of Troy Hicks and he commented back to them. They were thrilled because of his willingness to engage in conversation and to continue the learning across state lines.  

In addition to learning with my students, I continued learning by participating in weekly edchats on Twitter, by reading and commenting on various blog posts and by attending face-to-face trainings and summits.  A highlight of connected educator month, actually, was when I had the opportunity to meet face-to-face several of my fellow Kentucky colleagues who participate in the weekly #KyEdChat sessions.  Connectedness via technology is great, but it's even sweeter when a face-to-face connection occurs as well.