Sadly, there was no topic for this week's #YourEduStory, so, in honor of connected educator's month, I am doing one on what it means to be connected.
I have addressed this topic before, but want to elaborate. I am a social media user. I am connected virtually and physically with educators around the globe. However, does that connectivity make me better? If you check out the Connected Educators' Website, you will find a list of general themes - the themes that represent being a connected educator. But, I see multiple posts on getting educators onto Twitter and other social media. While there is nothing wrong with getting others on social media, there should be reason why - other than just wanting them on social media for social media's sake.
What is going to make an educator better by simply being on social media. This is where we lose some educators. We can't provide them with a why. We say, well, because you need to be connected and social media will get you connected. But...why do we need to be connected. You and I may enjoy that, but what about being connected makes us better? What does connected even mean? Does connected, as some posts are implying, only mean being on social media? What about being connected to others in your district? On your campus? In your classroom?
Yes, technology can increase engagement, but what about being connected to technology makes us better? We need to provide some whys. I look to teachers who I desperately try to use "technology" but then, I look at their students and see success. Would they have that same success or greater if they were connected via social media? Perhaps yes and perhaps no.
As educators, our job is to capture and nurture students' hearts. Until we do this, no amount of being connected is going to provide the education we are after. We also have to define what it means to be connected. Being connected to an educator in China is, in itself, no better than being connected to the educator down the hall. By diversity standards, the one down the hall may be far more diverse.
We need to go back to the principals of what it means to be connected before we say "every teacher should be on Twitter." That, in itself, does not improve education. Rather, it lessens the teachers who are connected, but in less technological ways.
The key is being open to learning. Educators open to learning - whether they are connected the way we think they should be or not - will make the difference.
Being connected, for me, is not about my virtual world solely, but about my physical world as well. Though I am proud of my network, it does not replace the physical network I have. Both are needed. With everything comes moderation.
I have a great quote in my office from the Center for Accelerated Learning that says "learning is creation, not consumption." If being connected technologically means consuming mass amounts of social media, it is not learning. Not only do we need to get students creating, we need to get educators creating. We need educators to create - whether that is on social media or if it is with their physical community.
So, in this month focused on connecting educators (I prefer this phrase over connected which sounds exclusionary), I focus on fostering creativity and connect-ING educators.
What is your focus?