Sunday, January 31, 2016

Connected Educator... ...Chapter 2: Why be connected?

Connected Educator... ...Chapter 2

Why is it important to be a connected educator in the 21st century?  The question seems simple, but pondering it deeper, we as educators must look at ourselves and ask the question; what do we find is most important in education?  Who is involved in successful learning?  By answering these questions we are then able to discover whether or not being a connected educator is important.  Not only that, we also build a foundation to justify being connected in the 21st century.  This base will then provide us the tools to weather the storm.  As an educator, what is important?

Entering the learning environment I have 3 primary focus areas that I want students to take away.  Through these 3 areas, students will find success in education.

  1. Relationships/Community: We must make connections to the content we are learning and the "real" world.  While this is not always a direct connection, application and practice must happen in the classroom in order to discover success.
  2. Self Motivation/Discipline: With discipline we discover ourselves and realize the potential that we have as learners.  Discipline is the fuel we need to achieve our goals.  Self-motivation is also needed to ensure success.  Often in life we are given the blue print by our educators, parents etc...  It is our self-motivation that brings us to the next level of learning; asking questions, trying new things, and being willing to fail in order to be successful.
  3. Success/Having Fun: Learning takes active participation.  Through learning there are many exciting and fun discoveries we make.  Having fun no longer is a passive activity on the surface.  It happens when we achieve our goals and objectives.  Through contributing to our own success we are able to come to a new understanding of "having fun!"
Now that we have been able to define what is important to us in education, let's tie that in with the idea of a "connected educator."
  1. Connected education is all about relationships and community.  Not only are we able to use the telephone and the face-to-face environment to make connections and build relationships, we now use applications such as Twitter, email, Google Hangouts, and several other online platforms.  These tools helps us to be more frequently connected and expand our community of people.  Using these new expansive resources, we are able to build closer relationships to our community.
  2. When faced with the realization that we are part of a larger global network, our motivation increases.  We discover that we are contributing to something that is bigger than ourselves, our classroom, and even our local community.  Ideas come pouring in from people and resources in our connected environment.  This can inspire us to think bigger and collaborate on a more personal level.  Being connected while requiring us to be disciplined in order to be actively involved, also gives us an easier way to access information and share our ideas on a more routine and consistent level.  
  3. Through global connection the opportunities to use tools to build successful learning environments are ample.  With the sharing of ideas and constant communication and feedback, we are more prone to success.  In aligning our personal interests with educational pursuits, having fun becomes a natural product of a connected learning environment.  Join a Twitter Chat sometime with fellow educators and find out for yourself.
In addition to reflecting on the importance of education in relation to connected learning, we must also look at our audience.  Students are now full immersed in a connected technologically environment from birth.  It is our job to meet them where they are at and use the tools at their disposal to engage them in a productive and successful learning environment.  

Successful learning comes from successful teachers.  In order to find the great teachers of the world all one must do is be connected.  Success is no longer a mystery and resources are no longer hidden from our view.  In being connected we have the greatest ideas in the world at our fingertips.  

It is also our job to share our success in learning with the local and global community. This includes parents, businesses, community organizations, and citizens. Successful education gives our online and offline communities a sense of pride that brings support to a commitment of excellence.

Being connected is a significant part of being an educator.  In reflecting on what is important in a successful educational environment, we find that connection is a natural part of what we do and who we are as educators.  The possibilities and potentials for success in education become limitless as we connect.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Connected Educator... ...Chapter 1: A self-assessment

Connected Educator... ...Chapter 1

What is a connected educator?  Looking at my own life prior to learning of the tech side of PLNs and Innovative Instructional Leadership, I would have said that I was a very connected educator.  I could pick-up my phone and contact several educators in my area of expertise for advice, criticism, or just to reminisce.  I would have considered myself a social person that made the most out of connecting with people... ...and I believe that I did.  I would argue that I took full advantage of the mediums I used to "connect."  As I jump into the deep end of 21st Century learning, I find that my potential to connect just became endless.

"This is what happens when educators connect" (ISTE)

Whether we as educators want to believe it or not, there is a need to connect.  The students that sit in the seats of schools today are not the same as we were when we sat in schools.  The amount of knowledge and resources at their disposal is truly only limited by us as educators.  We need to open the flood gates because that is the future.  Content and information is at our fingertips.  Students don't need to learn what.  They need to learn how.  The need to connect is not just about connecting people.  It's also about connecting information to application.  Now that learners have access to everything, our job as educators is to connect.

What does connection look like?  There are many examples of what it could look like, but there is not a one-size-fits all to the perfect connected learning environment.

"A Day in the Life of a Connected Classroom" (edutopia)

That is the wonderful thing about learning in the 21st century.  A connected classroom can be catered to whatever is needed by the educator.  With so many exciting tools at my disposal,  I look forward to the challenges of discovering the best tools for my classroom.

Where will I land as a connected educator?  My desire is to do what is best for students.  Learners that sit in our seats (or log into our classes) are often seeing the tip of the iceberg of potential accomplishments.  Through connection, collaboration, sharing, creating, innovating, etc...  I hope to open a new world of endless potential for the learners that I come into contact with  (including myself).

As a life-long learner, it's now time to put in the effort necessary to become a successful educator in the 21st century.  Winston Churchill summed it up when he said "Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential."