So what does it mean to me to become a connected educator? It means that I have connected with like educators around the world, learning together, reflecting together, sharing ideas together, and asking questions together, all to be the best we can be for our students and their growth. In this past year, my professional growth has exploded. It has been the most powerful learning I have found. Being a connected educator has changed my professional life for the better, and I urge every educator to take this leap and do the same.
My Twitter account was dormant for a number of years. I had it, scrolled through my feed every couple of weeks, and moved on about my day. My professional learning was grounded in workshops and conferences, reading articles that I happened to come across, and reading books I came across in catalogs. Was there anything wrong with this? Not particularly, but my growth was slow.
I can't quite remember what pushed me over the edge with Twitter. But I do know that about one year ago, I decided to take a risk and jump on Twitter more often, retweet great insights and ideas, and follow more people. Overnight, my life changed. There was something exciting about getting new notifications, others following me. There was excitement when I posted an idea I found, and others retweeted it because they too found it interesting. And through this, I was learning at a greater pace than before, finding out there are others like me, who want to be their best for our students, and grow for the betterment of our school. I learned how to help my staff grow too. I learned new ideas to encourage stakeholder involvement. I learned, I learned, I learned.
However, I still was lurking, not truly active in sharing and contributing to others. My PLN was growing, but how was I contributing to their growth and learning? If a PLN is truly to work, ALL members must be a part of the discussion. So, I took another leap and took part in a Twitter chat. I had heard about these, saw them when I jumped on Twitter at night, but I was full of excuses to not jump in. One night, I hit a bout of courage, and jumped in, saying hello. All of the sudden, I was a part of this chat, sharing ideas, TALKING with other educators in real time about education. It was an hour that changed me. When I was done, I looked over at my husband, who was wondering what in the world had gotten me so excited, and I told him that was the best hour of professional development I had been a part of EVER.
At that point, I was all in this wonderful social media world of learning. Twitter chats, whether I took part or not, became a nightly ritual to review. I jumped in a few each week, and started growing my PLN like never before. While some might think I'm just playing around on Twitter, I'm really growing and learning, taking control of my professional growth, sharing ideas with fantastic educators around the world. My professional development was, and now is, anytime, anywhere, and designed for me. Personalized PD, invigorating and refreshing in every moment.
But this wasn't enough. One snowy day, I sat on the couch and wrote my first blog post. I really didn't know what I was doing, but felt compelled to write. I created my blog - very simple - and then hit publish. Talk about taking a risk. It was the best professional risk I have ever taken. Now, I wasn't just sharing and discussing ideas on Twitter with other educators, I was reflecting on them, taking my growth to a completely new level. And my professional career will never be the same.
To be a connected educator, you must take risks. It is uncomfortable, but if we aren't taking those leaps, then we are stuck in a traffic jam with no where to go. I decided to take the wheel and find a way, maneuver around the jam, and go to the places I want to go. Was it always easy? No. Going outside your comfort zone never is. But if I want to be the best for my staff, my students, my parents, and my school, it was an essential part of my growth, and I do not regret one second of those uncomfortable feelings.
We are all in this together, this magical adventure called education. We must take control of it, become connected, and build a stronger connection with other educators around the world in order to propel our students forward to be prepared for anything to come. During this Connected Educator Month, become MORE connected, take the plunge, and you will never regret it! Let this be the beginning of becoming connected EVERY month!
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