As ‘Connected Educator’ month comes to a close in the US, it seems prudent to reflect on my own networks and connections. I actually think that I have always been a ‘connected’ educator in some form or another.
When I first began teaching, connections were something that generally happened face-to-face. I developed a mentoring partnership with a more experienced teacher in my school. All of the new teachers in our town met frequently to share and discuss our experiences. As I attended conferences and workshops I extended my networks to enable connections with educators from outside of the town in which I lived. These people were always available by email plus we seemed to have regular ‘reunions’ at various conference events. All of these connections were of value to my professional growth and development yet they rarely involved technology as a means of connecting.
It wasn’t until 2010 that I was asked why I was not on Twitter. This was a tipping point. I took a leap of faith and jumped into the world of Twitter and 140 characters. I started out as a lurker (as many do) before beginning to share resources, respond to questions and join chats.
After taking the plunge and starting to explore the amazing conversations that take place on Twitter, I decided that I too could begin to blog – just like all of those amazing people that I had been following on Twitter. Connecting with people beyond our geographic location brings richness and diversity to our networks. For educators such as myself who live in quite remote or isolated places, our online connections are often a lifeline to learning.
No matter how you connect with your PLN, the most important facets are the combining of ideas, the sharing of resources, the challenging of viewpoints and access to robust, professional discourse. Teaching is not an individual pursuit.
And a quick thanks to Adrian Bruce (@adrianbruce) as he was the person who introduced me to Twitter.