If you were to ask people what the best part about being a connected educator is, many would probably tell you that being connected lets you learn more than you would ever learn at your own building. There are so many great opportunities to be had online for free, it's not a shock that people talk highly about it. Take a look in any column on my twitter feed, and you'll see numerous links to tools and activities I can use in my classroom, ideas to make my life easier, blog posts to make me question what I do and how I do it, and webinars that require me to rethink my philosophy of education. Certainly the new learnings are a huge part of what it means to be a connected educator.
Just as many people, if not more (me being one of them), will tell you that while the learning is fabulous it is truly the people you meet during these exchanges that are the real cornerstone of what it means to be a connected educator. Born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania, I now work in a slightly larger small town about an hour south of where I grew up. To say this area is.... ummm.... a bit traditional or conservative is just a bit of an understatement. My forward thinking views on just about everything don't always go over so well, but the people I have met online have encouraged me to take the things I've have learned and go for it in my classroom. Their support has been invaluable as has their willingness to listen to and validate my ideas. Equally important are those people who push back and cause me to rethink my reasoning and question if what I'm doing is really the best thing for kids.
From my little spot in Pennsylvania, I have collaborated with teachers in Ft. Worth, Texas and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. I've taken classes with people from Norway, and co-coached in an online space with a fabulous woman from Denmark! I've met a wonderful mentor who lives in Ohio, and I coached and learned about Project Based Learning (PBL) from a team of educators in Australia. I have made friends from across the United States and in all parts of Canada. Many of them are wonderful resources from whom I can learn. Some of them are friends first, people to learn from second. Sometimes, as was the case in this post, it's easier to reflect on situations through writing than by talking things out. And while I do eventually have face-to-face conversations after I've taken the time to process what I've written, some of my online friends jumped right in and provided the support I needed.
Yes, being part of Connected Educators Month does mean that you will have to opportunity to learn a tremendous amount of new information. But more importantly being a Connected Educator means you will meet a tremendous amount of amazing people who are valuable resources, and you'll make some true friends who will be there to support you not only in your educational endeavors but in your personal ones as well.
So, by the end of this month I hope you will not only be saying to yourself, "Wow! Look at all I learned!" but that you will also be saying, "Wow! Look at the incredible people I have met!"