Often times, we throw around the phrase “get connected” as if it’s the magic pill that will save our classrooms. One may be hard pressed to find any connected educator that thinks any different. Being connected is like a light switch that turns on your practice. It burns brightly no matter how many barriers get in the way. However, to say that it’s a magic pill implies that the change is instantaneous. It is not.
Imagine a crock pot filled with the most luscious vegetables cooking on the sidewalk in the middle of spring. Even in Texas, those veggies would be cooking through summer before they’re ready to eat. That’s the best way that I can describe the cycle that follows initial connectedness. Being connected is not about an “overnight change” or even a “magic pill”. It’s an evolutionary investment that can generate sustainable change while providing the support needed to impact classrooms.
The keyword is…Investment.
The First Few Days (Know the “Shortcuts”)
I absolutely love the Connected Educators Month starter kit located at connectededucators.org. For teacher’s new to connectedness, it’s an interactive experience in not only following conversations but contributing…the one component that is often left out of the “get connected” conversations. We welcome “the lurker” but we are only as strong as those that share their knowledge. It’s so much easier to share in conversations where there is a level of comfort. Here are two of my favorite shortcuts:
1: @cybraryman1 – Jerry Blumengarten is one of the kindest human beings that I have ever met. His incredible index of information is my first step for all research, even before Google. His PLN All stars is a nicely indexed resource for finding educators to follow depending on what interest you and that is important.
2: Weekly Twitter Chat – bit.ly/officialchatlist Find a conversation or two or even three to join. Talk within the the conversations and follow people whose written voices speak to you. If you haven’t already, choose a “high volume” method of chatting like tweetdeck. I use the chrome app version and live by it as it enables me to connect to tools like google translator for my global connections while also enabling me to isolate chats and other ideas as needed.
Follow blogs and Read them!
Being connected taught me about the importance of following laws beyond my own state. As a classroom teacher, if it didn’t “affect” my students, I turned a blind eye. What I learned was that even when I didn’t realize it, my students were affected and I was their voice. I was MY OWN voice. I learned to read the words of Diane Ravitch, Scott McCleod, Audrey Watters and Dan Meyer. I extended my vocabulary further by following Jose Vilson. I became empowered in telling my own story.
Below is a List.ly of blogs that I read![listly id=”ADb” layout=”short”]
Patience, My Dear Watson!
In case you missed it, being connected is an investment. It’s hours of time communicating in conversational portions that are meant to be short and concise. It’s time spent posting your own thoughts, often absent of feedback. As easy as it will be to get discouraged…DON’T! Continue to post your own thoughts and ideas. Reflect on your practice and make sharing a habit. The more that you add, the more interaction that you will receive from others. At the same token, follow the conversations that not only matter to you but can help you. Those moments, when you feel valued, are the ones that will keep you connected.
Connecting doesn’t start nor end with clicking follow…it’s the actions that follow that matter.