An Educator’s Guide to Staying Connected
An Educator’s Guide to Staying Connected
In many schools, teachers walk into their classrooms, shut the door, and climb back out 180 days later. The majority of the school year is spent face to face with students, and it might have little to no conversations with other teachers or adults in general. As a result, creativity, risk-taking, and broader reaching processes are reduced. Teacher burnout may replace the enthusiasm educators once had. We see this in teachers and students alike.
Connected learners develop networks and shared learning. They use collaborative online spaces and social media and engage in conversations across the world, and they bring that learning back to the classroom. Educators should have the same opportunity.
Connected educators find other educators from all over who share their passion, concerns, interests and challenges. Being a connected educator is more of an attitude than anything else. It is about being open to the ideas of others and having the confidence to share one’s own ideas. A connected educator is seeking new opportunities and resources to grow as a professional; it is about opening the classroom door to a collaborative group of professionals. Staying connected to other educators is important to help one grow and learn as they settle into their profession.
Now, this is all great. The concept of being connected makes perfect sense, but how does an educator accomplish this, grade papers, feed hungry learners in the class, prep students for assessments, and get some kind of teaching done? Ultimately, the success and impact of any personal learning network or connected teacher depends on the investment of time that each individual is willing to commit.
What works well for connected educators?
- Connected educators put in the effort to connect and invest in the connection. Lurking is a great start, but to fully get the experience of connection, educators need to contribute, comment, and share.
- When connected educators move from the voyeuristic approach of monitoring conversations, they can ask questions that are very specific to their world and expect these questions to be addressed.
- Even if educators are connected to thousands of other educators around the world, they do not lose sight of those immediately surrounding them in their local workplace. However, connected educators are open to learning unexpected things. By being connected, and listening to other concerns and questions, a whole new environment will open for you. Make sure that you, as an educator yourself, are in the mental space to learn things that might be outside your very specific classroom universe. Other teachers might have the answer to a stubborn challenge or present a topic that you never thought of.
- Focused on relationships, even as the means of collaboration shifts, remains at the core of being connected. The impersonal environment of technology does not outweigh the fact that there is a person on the other side of the digital source.
- Creating a network is a collective effort; educators must be willing to give.
Getting connected with other educators around the world is revitalizing once you learn how. The benefit of creating or joining a learning network and beginning to interact with members of your network can restart your professional interest and knowledge.
What are the first steps to getting connected?
- If you're in an online community, look at discussions that you've learned from. Who's commenting? Make sure to friend or follow people of interest.
- If you are not in an online community, search one out. Edmentum has an Educator Network with a community Facebook page, newsletters, surveys, and more. Our mission for the Edmentum Educator Network, outside of putting educators first, is about addressing isolation:
The Edmentum Educator Network strives to bring teachers together to learn and to have access to a learning community. Edmentum advocates for the full participation of educators in creating and contributing to a community of sharing and supporting knowledge.
If you are interested in getting your feet wet, this is a safe place to start. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the process for being a part of this collaboration.
- If you're on Twitter, you can start by following inspiring people in education: @EdmentumNetwork or @Edmentum, for example—or an author like @JK_Rowling.
- On Twitter, you can also search for specific topics by using a hashtag; #EducatorFirst and #EdmentumandISTE
- Within your searches, follow people who you're interested in hearing more from.
- Retweeting, reposting, and following are a great start to creating connections and discovering your own online voice.
The Edmentum Educator Network is a free professional learning network designed to support and celebrate educators. Our network was conceived and designed to support teachers and help them network with educators from all around the world.
Although, if it were only about meeting new colleagues and having fun, we doubt that anyone would keep the classroom door open for long. What keeps connected educators energized about their learning network is not only the people with whom they connect but also the ideas to which they get connected—ideas that help them get better at what they do.
We know that teacher time is precious and that having just another thing to do can be scary. However, the thing about being a connected educator is that once you are connected, the workload is lifted, supports are put in place, and it becomes fun. The fun is in sharing your ideas and learning new things—both being in the spotlight and being the spotlight.