October 1, 2014
Today kicks off Connected Educator Month. The hashtag being used to centralize the posts, tweets, and chats about being a connected educator is #CE14. I encourage you to follow this hashtag throughout the month of October to find great educational leaders to add to your personal learning network (PLN). It will be a great example of what it means to be a connected educator. Being that I am in a constant state of learning, I will be tapping into the great people and resources there all throughout the month of October.
I must remind you, however, that being a connected educator isn’t limited to October. Should we only be cheerleaders of being a connected educator one month out of the year? In my opinion we should be modeling what a connected educator is all year-long. It has become (or needs to be) who we are in providing relevant, innovative opportunities for our students. Who are we modeling this for? For me, I’m modeling it for my coworkers, my own children, and teachers, students, and administrators in my district. That’s my immediate impact zone. Of course it is my hope that while modeling being a connector educator here in the Kansas City area I’m also helping others in other schools and districts around the globe. If my learning helps others do the same, then that a win all around. It’s more than being “connected”, I’m doing it to show that I am first and foremost a learner. My friend Molly Schroeder calls it “Living in Beta”. Have you identified who you need to me modeling this for and why? Are you modeling a learner first mindset?
Just like with anything else that’s new, becoming more of a connected educator is no different. There are options, options, and more options for how you can become connected. For some it’s Twitter. Some like to join Google+ communities. For others it might be reading and commenting on blog posts; or writing your own. Voxer has even taken off as a new way for educators to connect with others to collaborate. The list goes on. To each his/her own right? Of course, part of being a connected educator means recognizing that there isn’t just one way to do so. Just like we should be doing for our students, our own learning should be no different. Not everyone is going to learn the same way nor is how we model what we’ve learned.
My challenge to you for Connected Educator Month, is to pick one thing and get really good at it. Make it stick. Follow some chats on Twitter, start a blog, etc. The choice is yours and yours alone. Don’t focus on how fast you’re moving forward – the point is you’re moving forward!
August 26, 2014
We’re at the start of another school year. The beginning of a new school year is an exciting time. New faces, new initiatives, and just a lot of new in general. Schools and districts are going 1:1 (or BYOD), we’re creating makerspaces, and offering new courses on things like programming or robotics. It’s an exciting time in education; if we make it so.
It’s also a very difficult time to be in education right now. I don’t need to list the “whys” because there’s many and we all can generate our own lists that are unique to our systems and situations. We don’t need another list of negatives right now. What we need; what our students need, are opportunities. If you think just for a minute about the ways our kids can create, connect, and contribute with and to the world around them it’s really quite staggering. While this (and many other things) can be seen as big challenges, we need to be turning these challenges into opportunities.
What does this mean for my teaching practice?
What does this mean for the way my students can learn outside of class?
Where can I take my students in the world that I couldn’t before?
What new ways can my students demonstrate their learning?
What does this mean for me as a leader in my school or district?
As a leader how do I prepare teachers for this?
It all goes back to keeping ourselves in a “learner first” mindset. We owe it to ourselves and the students we serve. Challenges = new opportunities. Switch the vocabulary!
— Jay Billy (@JayBilly2) August 25, 2014