October, as you may or may not know, is Connected Educator Month. This is a great opportunity for connected and non-connected educators to understand the importance of collaborating and staying on top of best practices. For me, being a connected educator has been a “game-changer” for a variety of reasons. Each day I am excited to hop onto Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, Facebook, Educlipper and a host of other online resources to learn something new that will help students, fellow colleagues and improve our craft. There has been no other time in my career where access to some of the best minds in education are just a few tweets or posts away. Can you imagine a world where you have direct access to Todd Whitaker, Rick Wormeli, Eric Sheninger and a host of others? Neither could I. Until I became connected.
Take for example the hundreds of educational chats available on Twitter. All subject areas and disciplines are covered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. On Mondays, #sschat and #edtechchat engage participants on what matters most in the fields of social studies and educational technology. Tuesday is highlighted by the world renowned #edchat, followed by #ptchat on Wednesdays which connects parents with educators in relevant discussions. On Thursdays, people can peek in on #ArkEdchat even if they are from a different state. Busy during the week? No problem. On the weekends, lead learners can participate in #Satchat on Saturdays and #IAEdchat on Sunday nights. All of these Twitter hashtag discussions are engaging and relevant and help people reflect on their own practices and pick up new ideas that can help make their schools better.
Other ways educators can be connected are through various web tools such as Google+, EduClipper, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Google+ not only gives people the ability to share your thoughts and resources, but also allows for specific educational communities to thrive. Once signed up and logged in check out the hundreds of communities out there for teachers and administrators. EduClipper is an up and coming collaborative tool that is similar to Pinterest. Educators can clip and share online resources with each other. Students can also use EduClipper to collaborate on school assignments. Linkedin enables users to learn more about the people they are connected with and share best practice resources as well. Many educational organizations and publications have a Facebook page that you can “like” to receive updates. This is very beneficial due to the fact that you can have best practice resources show up on your timeline.
There are so many reasons why I am proud to be a connected educator. Throughout this blog post I have touched upon a variety of ways one can immerse themselves professionally online. For me, being connected has brought a newly found excitement to my professional life and has allowed me to pick the brains of many innovative thought leaders in our profession. Quite frankly, it is the only thing that makes sense, especially with the positives strongly out-weighing the negatives. Each and everything a person learns in the “connected world” can be brought back to the school setting and promote the success of all stakeholders. Do yourself and others a favor and connect yourself before you wreck yourself.
Brad Currie is the middle-school vice principal and supervisor of instruction for the Chester School District in N.J. Currie is the co-founder and co-moderator of a weekly Twitter discussion for current and emerging school leaders called #Satchat. The online discussion takes place every Saturday morning on Twitter at 7:30 AM EST/PST. He has presented at various conferences around the country on educational technology, social media integration and personal learning networks. Visit Currie’s website or follow him on Twitter @bcurrie5 for more information.