This post is dedicated to my PLN, with much thanks.
It is 5:10 a.m. and though I’m bleary-eyed, I reach for my phone and access Twitter. I scroll through my feed, as I head downstairs to make coffee. While I wait for the coffee to perk, I review all the amazing things that my PLN shared while I was sleeping. Having a global network of colleagues is like that. Coffee in hand I sit down, ready to engage in a spark chat (#BFC530) moderated by my friend Lisa Meade. Lisa Meade, principal of Corinth Middle School, and a person that I have only met in person once before, and yet I feel like I have known her a lifetime.
By 7:20 a.m. I’m in my car, and listening to a Vox from Scott Bedley. We’re coordinating an upcoming Google Hangout for our students. His students are fifth graders in California, mine third graders in Central New York. We have yet to meet in person, but he is someone who challenges and inspires me, almost daily. I’m pulling into school, and quickly return a Vox from Vicki Day, an elementary principal in Governeur, NY. We are trying to coordinate a Google Hangout, so that we can have a virtual meeting and share best practices in the integrated co-taught classroom. Vicki too, has become a close friend, and a trusted confidant.
The bell rings at 8:25 a.m. and we are off and running. It’s a busy day in our classroom, but we take time to document some of the amazing things that we’re learning and discussing, so that we can share later in the day. Our class has a Twitter account and we are all contributors. It is an important way for us to connect with the world beyond our classroom walls, and is a great way to share with our families what is happening in school each day. Some students are wrapping up a post on Kidblog, and others are commenting on their work. Later, I’ll share the link and ask members of my PLN, like author Jena Ball, to please give them a read and a comment. Jena is amazing. She is the author of the CritterKin series, and last year she connected with my students via Google Hangout to share about the process of writing, illustrating, and also caring for animals and people alike. I came to know her through a mutual member of our PLN, Marty Keltz.
Heading out to a seminar and I send a Vox to Peter DeWitt. He’s always there to listen, and to encourage. I can hardly believe that I have this opportunity! I can’t tell you the number of posts that I have read of Peter’s. It was just about two years ago when I finally had the courage to send him a Direct Message through Twitter. I needed him to know just how much his writing meant to me, how he challenged me and encouraged me, and helped me to find my voice.
Home, and after having had dinner with family, monitored homework, chatted with my husband, and put the kids to bed, I join in on one of many of my favorite chats on Twitter. Depending on the night, it could be #edtechchat, #COLLABED, #nyedchat, #arkedchat, #tlap, #ptchat or #edchat. There are just too many to list, but speaking of lists Jerry Blumengarten has the most comprehensive list of Twitter chats I’ve ever seen and you can find it here. These chats are where it all started for me. I lurked for a while, but quickly jumped in because the enthusiasm and passion were contagious. These chats helped me to advocate for my profession, to tell the story of education, and to learn. I have learned so much, and it has changed me, and my teaching practice for the better.
Becoming a connected educator has made me a better professional, it has helped me to take control of my professional development, hone my craft, to take risks and to collaborate with colleagues. Becoming a connected educator has enriched my personal life beyond measure. Individuals I may have never met otherwise are now dear friends. It is something that is difficult for those who have not yet tried connected education to understand. We hope that by sharing our personal stories, the impact it has had, the benefits we have reaped, that others will join us, because at the end of the day, it is all about building each other up, building our profession up, and doing the best for those that we serve – the students in front of us each day.