NCCE 2014 just wrapped and a constant theme throughout the conference was the idea of being connected. Connections are key to any successful person, but in many professions the connections are automatically put in place. Think of any CEO of any company in America. They have a board to guide them and staff to fill specific tasks and to be experts in one piece of the overall company. I was really struck by this during my surreal time in the Rose Parade. Watching a successful company work an event of this magnitude really opened my eyes to the built in connection structure of business. There were handlers to make sure people were where they needed to be, people coordinating drivers to pick up and drop off, publicists to shape the messages going out in real time, social media people tweeting and facebooking, and the list went on and on. All of these connections were prebuilt to make sure that the company and everyone involved was successful.
Now contrast that with being a classroom teacher. Think if the classroom had all those built in connections. The reality of teaching is, from morning bell to the end of the day, sometimes it feels like you are on your own. Unfortunately not as many connections are built into the traditional school model. That system has created the isolation many teachers feel everyday. Thankfully, technology can play a role in solving this problem. Participating with other teachers online, building connections, asking questions, pushing yourself to be better: This is all possible through social networking. By connecting with other teachers you start to build a network of people to push, give ideas, collaborate with, help, and inspire you. Networks are the key to breaking the feeling of isolation.
So how do you jump in? This is a common question and I will answer with an invitation. Montana educators are in their fourth week of a Twitter Educational Chat. I can vouch for the group and tell you they are an amazing group of educators who care about their profession, the students they teach, and helping others in the group maximize their potential. The group meets on Tuesday’s at 8:00 pm MST for one hour. You can view all the past sessions to get a sense of the discussions and the people active in the group at https://sites.google.com/site/mtedchat/ The hour is broke down into five questions with about 10 min per question for people to respond, share, evolve.
The next question/statement: But I am not on Twitter? I have two options for you:
#1 You don’t have to be on Twitter, just go to https://sites.google.com/site/mtedchat/ and watch. The drawback is you won’t be able to join the conversation, but the amazing part is you will get to see everyone’s thoughts and will learn something new that you can use in your classroom. Don’t get caught up in the fact that you haven’t explored Twitter yet, just watch and learn.
#2 Go to Twitter (On the WEB or download the app iOS, Android), Sign up for an account. PRO Tip: Give some thought to your username (aka Handle). Mitt Ray wrote a great post on some things to think about when choosing a Twitter Username. Once you have your account setup go to Tweetchat.com to join the #mtedchat. Tweetchat a great website that will make participation much easier. Make sure you login on the upper right hand side of the screen. Once logged in, type the hashtag #mtedchat in the upper left hand corner. This will show all the Tweets that people have added the hashtag #mtedchat to somewhere within the tweet. Tweetchat has a pause feature to help if the rush of tweets starts to come too fast. Don’t worry about reading everything, just read what you can. You will see the first question has a Q1 at the start and then people answering Q1 will start their tweet with A1 (Answer to question 1). This patter will repeat through Q5. Look for @mikegusto and send a tweet like:
@mikegusto This is my first #mtedchat You had me at Connected Educator!
Below is a screenshot of Tweetchat with a recap of the information you just read:
You do not have to feel isolated in your classroom. This is just one of many ways to fight the disease. It is a difficult time to be a teacher, but you are not alone. I am inspired and reinvigorated about my profession every time I take part in an ed chat. I hope to see you Tuesday 8pm MST… I have a lot to learn from you.
As always share your comments and thought below…