Defining a connected educator

EdCamp Philly 2011

There’s a phrase from a video that describes what Creative Commons is that I commonly use when describing what I aspire a school culture to be.

This phrase defines what a school culture should should be and can be if it’s not quite there yet. It reinforces the importance of working together for a common goal and providing the best strategies for teaching and learning. One of the ways I’m helping bring this phrase to life is by integrating new technologies and applications to connect teachers, students, and community. But, it doesn’t stop at providing hardware and software. It means building bridges within a school community that leverage these technologies and applications at a pace that is comfortable for everyone involved. For some it will be exploring a blog and possibly Twitter, for others it will be attending our Thursday EdTech Genius Bar or a conference. The point to remember is that connected educators are not just the educators you see blogging and tweeting, but also the ones you see developing offline connections.
What I have been witnessing at Groton-Dunstable Regional School District, is a school community anxious to integrate new technologies and design new paradigms for teaching and learning. And, this is happening in part by bringing our teachers together each Thursday for an optional EdTech Genius Bar. Teachers are not simply jumping into the Twitter waterfall in order to be a connected educator, rather they are physically connecting and sharing beyond our Thursday events. Many of our devices this year are just launching due to some shipping issues and setup time, but in the first week of this launch I’ve noticed a general excitement for integrating technology, rethinking lessons, and connecting our students to the world.
One of the big misconceptions is that in order to create a shared culture of learning every staff member must join the social media race. While Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook and MOOCs are all great opportunities to expand access to connections, resources, and opportunities, bringing teachers together offline is priceless.
The offline world is where I, personally, have made some of my strongest connections. Many of these connections started with social media use, but elevated when I made the offline connections. I attended conferences like EduCon in Philadelphia that is hosted yearly by the Science Leadership Academy students and principal, Chris Lehmann. I attended and hosted several EdCamps in the past few years and continued to make and strengthen connections during these events. It’s imperative for educators to connect in some way in both worlds. I am grateful for making connections on Twitter and through my blog. It’s opened many doors for me. I am equally grateful that I attended these conferences and went beyond my computer screen to connect with the educators I’ve met online.
Being a connected educator means making both offline and online connections. No matter your connection medium, it’s important to keep having conversations and sharing what we do with others. It’s important for us to be transparent and share what we do with others regardless if it’s on a blog or offline personal learning communities. I’m not one for labels or titles. Let’s all be careful with how we define a connected educator and keep in mind those who are making powerful connections offline.