Are You a Connected Educator?
October is Connected Educator Month—an event sponsored by the US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology to encourage the use of online communities of practice and social networks for educators to learn and share knowledge with one another.
Of course, the idea that being connected with our peers makes us better at what we do is nothing new to educators involved in the National Center for Literacy Education—it's one of the core beliefs that bind together the widely varied groups and organizations that form the NCLE network.
So here’s the big question for the month:
How connected do we need to be?
If you are anything like me, you know that sometimes being "connected" brings distractions that get in the way of professional growth. I will admit that I have spent hours poking around Pinterest craft and recipe boards when really I should have been working on the research project for my graduate class. Even when I’m browsing the “classroom ideas” Pinterest boards that belong to my friends, I find that I’m encountering helpful DIY ideas that could be incredibly useful for organization and coordination, but probably have little impact on the instructional practices that make a difference in student learning.
Elsewhere on the continuum of connectedness, I feel very connected when I walk into my neighboring teacher’s classroom to ask her if she’s also having trouble figuring out how to effectively use her SmartBoard. But there’s no online community or social network directly involved in this act of connecting, so does it count?
Of course! In all likelihood, the information my colleague and I share came from a combination of workshops and web seminars, Pinterest boards and graduate classes. Perhaps we will tell our story of on-the-spot collaboration and lessons learned from one another by writing a blog, by talking about it at our weekly grade-level meeting, and/or by seeking additional insight from the followers of our digital literacy team on the Literacy in Learning Exchange. Being connected comes in many shapes and sizes, and includes a combination of online and offline connections. Some ways of being connected impact the profession, while others impact the individual, but most have potential for ultimately influencing student learning in one way or another.
In what ways are you connected, and how do these connections influence you and those around you?
We hope that you will join NCLE in celebrating Connected Educator Month, through the many events and activities being planned by NCLE stakeholders. You can pursue the idea of connections through these Exchange resources as well:
- Carrie Leana and her colleagues found interesting relationships between being connected and positive changes in student achievement.
- Interested in finding others who have similar professional interests? You might like the new EdConnectr tool created for the Connected Educators initiative that functions similarly to online matchmaking platforms—complete your profile to find other individuals with interests similar to your own.
- Whether you are already in a professional learning team or you grow a new team as a result of EdConnectr (or other digital tools), your story is worth sharing with the NCLE community. Check out these Literacy in Learning Exchange stories about developing digital connections: