This quote applies to all stakeholders in the education system. Whether we are speaking about how students, parents, teachers, education assistants or administrators feel, there is little doubt regarding the power of connection. People want to feel that they are valued, that they have a voice and that they are members of a community.
I want to focus now on the feeling of connection amongst educators.
There has been much talk over the past few years about people in the field of education building their own PLN (Personal Learning Network). The feeling of connection that comes from a PLN is powerful. I have spoken to many people about the role that Twitter can play in developing a PLN. Most of us already have some sort of electronic device, a cell phone, a tablet…that’s all you need. Reaching out to connect with others in the field of education and sharing expertise can be a valuable learning experience. After all, many of the challenges that you face as an educator are not unique to you, your school or community. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of people out there who have or are experiencing many of the same challenges that you are and can share their stories about what has worked and what hasn’t. Connect with some of them, have conversations, get feedback on your ideas, take charge of your professional development.
Sure, often when I mention Twitter and other forms of social media like Voxer, I have often been met with “eye rolling”, often followed by “I don’t understand Twitter”, or “I don’t believe in technology”. The fact is, that technology is a part of our lives and most definitely a part of the lives and future of our students. If you are unsure how to use it, then have someone teach you.
You can also build your PLN by attending conferences and workshops about topics that are of particular interest to you. It is easy to get caught up in daily routine with all of the things that seem to pile up on your desk. You can get so focussed on attacking the tasks, prepping, marking… that you don’t take the time to pause and search out experiences that can help you to grow, to connect with new people and have new conversations. Go to a conference and take advantage of the opportunity to share new ideas and opinions, you may even find that you gain a new energy that you otherwise may not gain while staying within the four walls of your classroom. If you do choose to attend a conference, try to sit with people you don’t know, dont just sit with people that you can talk with every day, you already know their opinions, their experiences. Branch out. This can be difficult for those of us who are more introverted but believe me, you will be glad you did. Connecting and collaborating are important skills that we want for our students, don’t you want the same for yourself?