So, this is a perfect example of the power of being connected. The other day, I saw a tweet from Principal Brad Gustafson in Minnesota (@GustafsonBrad – check out his great interview on The Two Guys Show!) about a video showing kids being thankful. I clicked on the link and was immediately charmed. The kids are fabulous, and throw in a few surprises (such as the lizard named CheeseDoodle- what a cool name!). What’s unique about this video, though, is that three schools collaborated to make it. The project is a combined effort from Minnesota, New York, and New Jersey. I think it’s great the way the students from Byram Intermediate (who collected comments from the elementary school – so I think that technically makes 4 schools), Greenwood Elementary, and Cantiague Elementary shared their gratitude. They can see what they have in common, which is a lot, and have a conversation about some of the different things that were mentioned.
This leads me to mention something I am thankful for this year that I did not have on my list (or even on my radar) last year – my online PLN. Without Twitter, I would not have known about this awesome video, which has already given me numerous ideas for project suggestions for my own students. And this is only the latest in a very long list of inspirational tidbits that I have gleaned from the folks on Twitter. I know everyone in America is busy today with your Thanksgiving preparations, so I won’t waste your time by getting all gushy and sentimental. Just know that I appreciate all of you – readers, Tweeters, co-workers, family, friends, and students!
Thanks for sharing, Byram, Greenwood, and Cantiague! Great job!
As Ginger said about our culture in education, “We don’t live in a competitive; we live in a comparative” culture. She gave a great analogy (about 26 minutes into the show) that describes the different levels of implementing change (pictured above) – basically saying that all levels have their strengths and weaknesses.
Brad Waid talked about the need for different ways to assess our students – a topic that seems to have the agreement of most educators, but still remains controversial for some reason.
Later on, Drew Minock discussed his wish that our system would differentiate for teachers as it asks us to differentiate for students. And, unfortunately, it is not always just the people above us who are so rigid. Sometimes we can be hard on each other.
Although my blog is subtitled, “Great minds don’t think alike,” I am going to agree with Drew, Brad, and Ginger who, paradoxically, think alike about not thinking alike.
I love being connected through Twitter, Google Plus, and this blog – learning from educators all around the world. It has enhanced my life in many ways. I have always been a voracious learner, eager to hear new ideas, and, sometimes foolhardily, adopting them wholeheartedly. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate my Professional Learning Network.
But it’s not the end-all-be-all way to be a great educator. And, believe me when I say that I do not for a second believe that I am the best educator I can be. I am constantly falling on my face, and striving to do better. I look to my network of colleagues to help me with this. And I share things, not because I want you to think I’m fabulous, but because I hope someone will think, “This might be good for my students,” – and maybe a teacher will contact me with an even better idea built on mine.
I know many fabulous teachers who use little technology. Just because I love to use it in my classroom does not mean that it’s the only way students can learn.
The best teachers I know love their students. They let them know with their words and actions that they matter. My favorite teacher in high school was not, by any means, funny or entertaining. And, of course, back in the Stone Age, we did not use any technology. But, every time she saw a puzzled look on my face in the middle of a lecture, she would stop and say, “I can tell you have a question.” She would re-trace her steps, or explain something in a new way. She let me know, by those small gestures, that I mattered.
So, if you are feeling pressured to be a Connected Educator, please don’t feel that way. Don’t compare yourself to others, or worry that you’re falling behind. All of us are just making our own way, learning the best we can. If you want to be like me, and jump right into the deep end, and then think, “Oh, I should probably learn how to swim at some point,” go for it. (Exactly how I felt when I plunged myself and my entire class into our first ever Twitter chat last week.) There are plenty of people willing to throw out life jackets, and no one berates you for being too impulsive. But you can also be the one sitting on the beach building your own glorious sandcastle.
Do you let your students know that they matter? Then, you are connected to them. And that makes you the best kind of Connected Educator.