Saturday / April 13

Being a Connected Educator: Better Than a Top 5

I’m fortunate to have been a Connected Educator for nearly six years and never give up an opportunity to share with others why being a Connected Educator is so beneficial.  I believe in being connected so much that I co-wrote the book Breaking Out of Isolation: Becoming a Connected School Leader with Spike Cook and Theresa Stager. For this year’s Connected Educator month I would like to focus on a concept that we address in our book: the top 5.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn is well known for saying, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” If one wants to become more fit and healthy, then it would become much easier by surrounding yourself with people who can model this for you. If you want to become better in your craft, then surround yourself with people who are great role models, experts in their field. Following people on Twitter is one thing, but what I prefer to focus on most is the strengths of the people I am following so I can better know how I can grow from being connected to them and have more than a top 5. The ability to surround yourself with great educators to learn from becomes even more powerful thanks to social media tools and has become my lifeline as a school principal. Any principal can tell you how isolating it is to be the only person in the building in that role, but even educators with a team to turn to can feel isolated within their own classroom. We can remain isolated by our role, room or even geographical location, just doing the best we can, or we can choose to connect with others so that we are constantly learning and growing to provide our students with the best education possible.

Being a Connected Educator allows me to do even more than find the best five people that I want to emulate…it allows me to find the best five (or even more) for each topic or area that I want to grow in. By connecting with others on Twitter, reading their blogs and having deeper discussions on Voxer, I can find which educators I can learn more from about topics such as RtI, 1common core standards, or implementing a new initiative like Writer’s Workshop or going 1:1 with iPads. I am involved in different Voxer groups focused on the conversations that I want to learn from, such as women in leadership and principals that run for balance in their lives (I do mean literally running in this context!). I connect almost daily with a group of principals who have either been recognized as principal of the year or had their school recognized for their excellence. I learn so much from these outstanding leaders in just a few minutes a day.

Being a Connected Educator with a Professional Learning Network (PLN) allows us to improve the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Are you a Connected Educator? Who are you surrounding yourself with to learn and grow from each day?

If you’re a school leader (or know one) that would like to become more connected then I’d recommend checking out our podcast for principals: PrincipalPLN or follow the hashtag #principalpln on Twitter.

Written by

Jessica Johnson is an Elementary School Principal and District Assessment Coordinator for Dodgeland School District in Juneau, Wisconsin. She is the 2014 Wisconsin Elementary School Principal of the Year. She has previously taught in Minnesota, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree at Bemidji State University. She also taught and worked as an Instructional Coach and Assistant Principal in Arizona, earning her Master degree at Arizona State University. As an continuing learner, she is passionate about literacy principal productivity, social media, technology integration, and the concept of leading with a “coaching hat” as an administrator. She has a self-published children’s novel, Adventures in Blockworld: A Novel for the Young Minecraft Fans. She co-moderates the #educoach chat on Twitter each Wednesday night at 9pm CST and also co-hosts the PrincipalPLN Podcast.

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