October is Connected Educator Month. Stay tuned throughout the month for advice from your peers about connected teaching and learning. In this blog post, educator Ed Bates shares his top tips for getting connected.
Last year, I was invited to present at a technology conference and had some time to meet some of the other presenters. One spoke about the importance of becoming a connected educator in order to keep up with the challenges in today’s educational climate. I initially felt I might be “too old” and in the twilight of my teaching career to take an interest in such a topic, but after listening to his presentation, I felt inspired and re-energized. Being connected might be one of the most important and beneficial things teachers can do during their careers.
Getting “connected” is not something that takes a lot of time to develop. In fact, here are a few suggestions to help you start right away.
First, don’t worry about messing up. Embrace the fact that you’re going to make a ton of mistakes. Just like with learning anything, mistakes are going to be made. Don’t hesitate in trying something. Ted Talks has some great talks on how to learn from failure.
There is no right way to become connected, but rather, there’s your way. When it comes to becoming connected, look at your social landscape and decide what you would like to do first. Keep in mind that just because people are using social networks a certain way, it doesn’t mean it’s the right way for you. Think of some goals you would like to achieve and start from there. You can fine tune it as you progress.
Along those lines, don’t be afraid to just jump in. Enter into it at full force and don’t hesitate. You’ll make mistakes; reflect on how you can learn from them. One of the most enjoyable things about being a connected educator is that you’re constantly learning important things that might not have been on the top of your list. Being connected provides you with the opportunity to be there with great and inspiring minds in the field of education. Be open and willing to learn new things that might not be at the top of your list. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised.
I made every effort to try to follow like-minded people in education, and sometimes some not so like-minded. Through LinkedIn, as well as various conferences, I watched and read discussions in online communities and looked at who was commenting. I then attempted to connect with them. The Connected Educator series provided some great reading on leadership and remaining relevant in the educational world. Through Twitter and Google, you can search for specifics topics. Through your searches, you can connect with people you’re interested in hearing more from. I found educators like Tony Sinanis, Joe Sanfelippo, Pernille Ripp and Tom Whitby very informative.
There are also tons of free online events such as a live twitter chat, a Google Hangout On Air, or just a virtual conference. Sites like Edutopia will alert you to upcoming webinars and virtual conferences
It’s important that you make becoming connected important. Prioritize it, kind of like going to the gym. Set aside a certain amount of time each week to devote to this. I try to do about 30 minutes a week. In the grand scheme of things, that’s really not that much. Along those lines, don’t be afraid to personalize some things within your social network. This way people can feel comfortable connecting with you.
Once you feel more comfortable being connected, make sure you share experience and thoughts with others. A great way to do that is through blogging. It’s a great opportunity to be reflective on what you’ve learned and gives back to a field we all love.
Ed Bates has over 25 years experience in the classroom teaching young adults. As a certified National Trainer, he presents concepts to various school districts and universities throughout the country. He has extensive experience in implementation of NYS Common Core Mathematics Curriculum Modules, Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), and Integration of Technology into the Classroom.
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