To help encourage conversations about the importance of fostering connections amongst educators, the topic/question for the dinner table is a pair of two questions...
Having a Choice
If you could choose between following or perhaps contributing to a twitter account created by one teacher, or following or perhaps contributing to a twitter account created by a team of teachers, which would you choose?
One teacher or A team of teachers
On a scale of one to five, five being the most, how familiar are you with Tweetdeck?
Please see link to Google Form to share your responses: Collaborate Online (This is an anonymous Google Form)
With this early October weather bringing some raw winds and rain, I hope that everyone was able to find some ways to relax a bit after our first five-day week of school. It is hard to believe that October is already here. With the busyness of each day and week, we are trying to find ways to slow the clock and calendar down, but have not been too successful! Our weekend was spent on the sports fields - kids having more fun in the rain than the spectators! - and then celebrated my mother's 74th birthday on Saturday evening. Sunday afternoon we watched Maggie's softball game and had family dinner before the week began.
It was great to be back at Blake on Friday, after having spent Tuesday-Thursday being trained as a blended learning facilitator with a team from TEC (The Education Cooperative) at The Friday Institute at NC State University. The training and workshops were comprehensive and helped to shine a light on a thought process for exploring a changing educational environment for the entire classroom-school-district continuum - parallels were also made for the student-teacher-administrator-community continuum as well. I have notes to share and ideas to discuss with staff, students, and parents and I look forward to these chats in the coming days and months. In addition to the connections made with others that I look forward to continuing via digital means, it is equally important for me to keep in mind the importance of our face-to-face connections that we need to nurture and grow. This also includes the connections that need to be fostered outside of work - with family and friends. Keeping that perspective in mind, I am going to hold off on sharing some of the thinking from this week so that I can spend some time with the kids and Katie.
October is Connected Educators Month 2015, and in the spirit of this month I am sharing some posts/clips that I was able to read during my travel time this week, bringing together the goals of a culture of learning and relevance...
Never Too Late: Creating a Climate for Adults to Learn New Skills
by Deborah Farmer Kris in MindShift
Kris's post is a nice framework for educators to think about the environment that is needed for adults to learn new skills. I found it to be a good read as it reminded me of the important place that positional and figurative leaders play in helping to create this environment that allows for growth mindsets to be fostered. Dr. Lisa Brady, Superintendent in Dobbs Ferry, NY is quoted and she shares three strategies that have proven to be helpful: remodeling faculty meetings, reaching out to seasoned teachers for support, and modeling a growth mindset.
Students are not the only ones encountering new challenges at school: Teachers face an evolving profession, driven in part by technology and a rapidly changing economy.
“As educators, we cannot ask of kids what we are unwilling to do ourselves,” she said. “Students ‘sniff out’ hypocrisy quickly and it is very powerful when we model the willingness to try new things — with the struggles and failures that come along with this.”
First Steps in Forming a Professional Learning Community
post by Ella Mireles
This brief post from ASCD underlines the principles of PLCs (professional learning communities), as she acknowledges the inherent sense of individualism that exists in many schools. The goal is to shift the focus from teaching to learning and to continually foster collaboration.
The Growing Importance Of Connecting And Staying Relevant
post by Ron Thomas
Thomas's post is not necessarily aimed towards educators, but the implications and message hold true. He openly acknowledges the opportunities, risks, and shifts in 'power' that social media bring and encourages us to embrace these shifts.
Social media has moved into our society at warp speed. I call it the disrupter of the century. There is nothing that has affected us more than social media and the Internet.
Everyone in this space needs to find their own niche. I post about once per day on HR or organizational issues. That is my brand that I have developed over the years. There are some platforms I use more than others, but I try as much as possible to stay connected. Why do this? Because it is where the action is and I do not want to become irrelevant as some of my peers who boast that they have no social media interest whatsoever. That, to me, is like telling someone I have completely given up on business and life. In the end, if you want to be relevant in your business, you have to be in it.
Connected Education Video Clips
Connected Educators (4:54)
Using Twitter effectively in education - with Alec Couros (3:12)
Whom Should I Follow on Twitter?
by Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby)
Whitby is an educator I follow and one that has helped me to tangibly realize the power of connections with other educators via Twitter. The strategies he outlines help to structure the overwhelming nature of Twitter for those both new and experienced with this medium.
For some reason any post with Twitter in the title does not do well with a general population of educators. Social media as a source of professional development has yet to catch on in large numbers among educators. There is however a growing number of educators using Twitter who look for strategies to better serve them in social media for collaborative learning. Whom should I follow on Twitter and how do I find them are key questions that need to be addressed.
A big problem with collaborative learning through social media however is that it is not a passive activity. There is no way of getting around the work one needs to do in order to get positive results. Having a plan or a strategy does make things easier. Focusing on following educators, who themselves are focused, makes for best results. Don’t just follow those whom you agree with, but follow those who challenge you as well. The most important thing to remember in Twitter: Big numbers of followers may impress some people, but whom you follow is far more important than who follows you.
What Should Parents Know About Instagram?
by CommonSense Media
As students strive to make connections with each other and utilize social media, it is our continued goal to share resources that might be helpful for parents and families.
As we aim to build connections with educators at both the local (Blake, Medfield) and broader (out-of-district, state, country), it is important to keep our theme of collaboration in mind. During our opening faculty meeting this year, you will remember that I asked for ‘areas of expertise’ to be shared. I encourage everyone to take a look at the compiled contributions - Blake Expertise, August 2015. Essential components of growth include the willingness to both ask and offer support. We have a wealth of knowledge on our staff and amidst our community. As we start this month of October, I hope we can continue to open our doors to new opportunities, feedback, and new connections.
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