The second blog post George Couros encouraged us (me) to write was to tell our (my) story. Specifically to tell what one thing we (I) have done differently this year that has changed us (me) as an educator. For me the answer is simple. I got connected.
So what do I mean by that? Before discovering twitter I thought I was connected. I spoke with teachers in my school, and other teachers in my district. I have many friends that are teachers and often our conversations would turn to things that we were doing in our classrooms. I have taught in Canada and Australia so I have experienced two different systems. But, when I joined twitter my previous idea of being connected was literally blown out of the water. While I was connected before I am now SO MUCH MORE connected as an educator.
Twitter has introduced me to educators all around the world. I am now learning and sharing with some truly brilliant people. They are pushing my thinking constantly and I am way more reflective because of it. Take something as simple as this blog. It has helped me document my learning over the course of this year. Just the other day I was reading some of my older posts and I am reminded by how far I have come this year. And I've come this far because I have been connected. I have learned along side with so many others and I am constantly learning new things.
Being connected has given me the strength to try new things - new things that I truly believe are best practice for my students. My strength comes from that fact that even if I am alone at my school or the only one in my school district doing what I'm doing, I am not alone. I have support from my personal learning network. It was Jackie Nelson and Leanne Kolenberg who inspired me to start a class blog. It was Kathy Cassidy that inspired me to get my grade one students blogging. It was Aviva Dunsiger that made me look even closer at the feedback I was providing for my students. Carrie Gelson has helped me look at mentor texts in a whole new way. I love the way Valerie Ruckes and Laura Komos are so passionate about teaching reading and writing. Kassia Omohundro Wedekind helped me relook at my numeracy instruction. Christine Yarzabek, and Angie Harrison inspired me with technology. Vicki Davis and Theresa Allen have helped open my eyes to connecting globally. Sarah Soltau-Heller , Marciel Martel, Kristine Wideen and Jill Kolb inspired me with using google hangout in our classes. Celina Brennan makes me critically think about what I do and why. And of course I have been inspired by the #1stchat and #kinderchat peeps over and over again. These people truly get what it's like to be an early primary teacher. They have inspired me in so many different ways. What's even cooler is that each of these connections have lead to many, many other great connections.
I have also connected with app and website creators, and I've used those connections to suggest changes and improvements for their products.
I have also taken many of these connections off line and into the real world. To begin with I now have genuine connections with the helping teachers in my district. While in the past I knew who some of them were, I now feel as though I know them personally, and they know me a bit better too. I am very thankful for that.
I have attended workshops that have been put on by incredible educators such as Alec and George Couros, David Warlick, Adrienne Gear, and Joan and Gail - the two sisters behind the Daily Five. I have skyped, google hung out, and face timed with many of these people too. I have met Gallit Zvi, Hugh McDonald, Robyn Thiessen, Lora Sarchet, Niki Leech, Michelle Hiebert, Carrie Gelson and may others through district opportunties, edcamps, tweet ups, and just plain old coffee dates.
I want to meet more of my personal learning network (PLN) face to face this summer. I am planning to attend #edcampkinder in Las Vegas to meet and interact with the incredible #kinderchat people. I am hoping to meet up with some of #1stchat crew while I'm in New York. I am also attending Unplug'd in Ontario later this summer and will have some truly authentic connections as we unplug from technology and share our stories with one another.
To all those I have connected with this year I thank you. There are far too many of you to name individually but please know that you have made me a better educator just by taking the time to share your learning, and comment on mine. I can't wait to see what else I am going to learn from you this year.
So that's my story. Being connectted has above any thing else I've done this year, changed me as an educator. What's your story? I'd love to hear it.
This is a wonderfully open and reflective post. If anyone asks why should I engage in Twitter, I'll direct them to thus entry.ReplyDelete
Your summer travel plans sound incredible. I'm looking forward to meeting you face to face in Ontario. Thanks for connecting, reflecting and sharing your journey.
Angie some may say that I'm a bit of twitter addict but I can't praise it enough. I love to learn - always have - and twitter is learning on steroids if you use to to its potential. I am also really looking forward to meeting you face to face this summer too. I'm in for quite a ride. Thanks for being a part of my journey. It's only going to get better.Delete
I agree with Angie! This is a fantastic post, Karen, and I'm so glad that I've connected with you. Your post really speaks to the value of Twitter. Can't wait to meet you in person this summer!ReplyDelete
Thanks Aviva. You were one of the first I met via twitter when I listened in on your presentation at RSCON3 last summer. You changed my thinking about young students and using technology. Needless to say it snowballed from there. My teaching isn't about the technology though, it's about doing the best I can to help my students be their best. I am stoked to be meeting you face to face this summer and hopefully we'll have some on line chats before then. Thank you so much for being such a huge inspiration and support for me.Delete
Aw that's fantastic! And exactly how I feel. Twitter is a fantastic resource for educators, one that many scoff out... If only they could see! I'm jealous you're going to edcampkinder - have fun!ReplyDelete
Yes Ari, it is pretty darn cool now isn't it. I wish you were able to come to Vegas too. I am super excited to be spending some time with such incredible K teachers, even if I teach grade one. I know I will learn a ton from them. Thanks for being a part of my journey. We have had some great back channel discussions and I am certain there are many more to come.Delete
Thanks so much for the mention. I feel the same way about Twitter. When I switched grade levels two years ago I received very little support or inspiration from colleagues in my building. Twitter was and is the place where I feel connected with other like-minded educators, like you. I love our PLN and sharing with other educators who are passionate about teaching, learning, and growing. People really underestimate the power of Twitter! Thanks for sharing this wonderful reflection.
Thanks for the comment Valerie. I am sorry that my NYC dates won't work with your schedule. One day we will meet face to face.Delete
Thanks for sharing your journey, Karen. Watching you learn this past year has been a privilege. I have marvelled at how much a committed teacher can learn in a short time while I watched your journey.ReplyDelete
I look forward to meeting you face to face this summer!
Thanks for the kind words Kathy. It really has been an incredible journey for me this year and it will be even more complete when I get to meet you face to face this summer. I enjoy the conversations we've had and I look forward to having many more with you as we travel on our journey together. I have learned so much from you. Thanks for being you. I'll see you soon - and not just on my computer screen. :-)Delete
I am honored! Thank you for our continued conversations. You push me, as well, to think deeply and ponder innovative ideas for connecting with my students and colleagues. Our collaboration always springs me forward and engages me with new topics/resources. Thank you for your enthusiasm and honesty. Your post is a testament to the benefits of developing a PLN and connecting with educators around the world!
Celina, I love how our conversations are never surface level and how you always make me think or explain my thinking to you. You also get me writing, always curious to read about what I'm learning. One day I'll go deeper in my blog but in the mean time I will enjoy the back channel conversations I have with people like you to keep me reflecting on my practice, and making changes as needed. You sure you won't get as close as Seattle this summer? I'm really looking forward to meeting you face to face. :-)Delete
I love what you wrote about being connected and the importance of the face-to-face connection. All of this stuff is great, but it is the importance of sharing it with those that you work with in your own school that becomes so greatly important. Often (and I can be guilty of this), people are quick to appreciate the connections they make through social media almost more than those at home. If we don't bring what we learn outside back to those we work with, we have missed a huge opportunity.
Thanks for sharing!
George, thank you for your comment. I have to say that I have tried over and over and over again to get my own staff members - including my admin - on twitter. I have presented twitter at a staff professional development day, I have shared the incredible things i've learned on twitter, I have shared many articles that I find on twitter, I shared the article that i wrote for the IRA on twitter. I have shared this blog and my class blog. I have offered to work with staff one on one or in small groups to help them better understand the benefits of twitter and show them how to make it work for them. Trust me I will do practically anything to help support my staff but it's been a huge up hill battle for me. Thankfully many in my district do know what I've been doing on twitter and with my class and have asked for my support/help/advice and I've given it willingly. Do you have any suggestions of other ways I can try help get my staff on board? I'm not giving up. I'm far too determined.Delete
And yes, I realize that every member of my staff is a unique individual with different needs and comfort zones. Like with the students in my own classroom, I will, have, and will continue to work with each and everyone one where they are at.Delete