This post was previously published on my COETAIL blog as part of a five courseCertificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy.
In The Connected Educator , Nussbaum-Beach and Hall write of the emergence of a new culture of teaching in which “conversations turn to topics of practice rather than staffroom complaints.” They go on to describe the evolution of the teacher as a process in which there is “a shift from seeing education as a series of things we do to students and instead as a dynamic learning environment in which learners take ownership for their own growth and pursue it passionately.”
I am so inspired when I sit with a colleague at lunch (as happened recently) and they recommend the ideas and passions of their former colleagues and it turns out they and I have long been connected, virtually. I have stopped expecting someone else to take care of my professional development and I am dedicated to ‘passionately pursuing’ my own growth.
From links to articles, to ideas on lesson plans, my Personal Learning Network is a real time professional development network of educators that I rely on to help me do my job as an educator. –Jeff Utecht REACH, p 10.
I agree with Jeff wholeheartedly although I would go so far as to define ‘educators’. I was intentional in the way I set up my Facebook and my Twitter accounts (although the lines in Facebook are becoming more blurred as educational organizations like Edutopia,Mind/Shift, Making Thinking Visible, and various PYP groups are pushing a more visible presence on Facebook). My intention was to keep Facebook for keeping up with friends and family and Twitter for education and educators. And authors. And humanitarians, poets, activists, innovators, ruckus-makers, and disruptors. I made a conscious decision to not follow friends who tweeted about their coffee/dinner/workouts. I love these friends but Twitter was my sacred ground for teaching and learning.
I started my blogging life with a blog that was a little bit of everything – personal, professional, cooking, crafting, photographing. Then I found myself leaning more toward the education side of things, buoyed by comments from friends and parents of children I was teaching or had taught. This blog evolved from there. I wasn’t sure if I had anything to say but I blogged anyway.
When Jeff talks of the time it takes to develop a PLN he is spot on. There have been times over the course of the past two years when I have felt like quitting the blog. Who would miss me amongst the excess of 200 million blogs already in existence? So I eased off and then I stopped (and had a baby) and then I got going again because I missed not being connected.
Recently my dad sent me a message on Facebook. It read:
Dads are great, right? But he touches on the same issue that Jeff mentions: blogging when no one is looking (or reading). My stats indicate that I have a lot of ‘lurkers’ and I would confess that I too, am a lurker at times. But when I get out there and post and comment and respond, that is when the learning happens.
A quote that has stayed with me since I first read it in his book, Creating Innovators is as follows:
Who are you plugged in to? How do you connect with other educators?