Quite often these days, we hear the words “connected educator.” But what does that mean? And is it really all that important to be connected? I used to ask myself that question a lot. Knowing that I was surrounded by great teachers on my own campus and in my district, I didn’t see the need for social media in my life.
Then my former assistant superintendent, Troy Mooney, changed everything for me. He encouraged me to share my learning experiences online through blogging and social networks, even taking the time to teach me how to use a few of them. I had never before thought about how simply sharing insights online, educator to educator, could impact my teaching and my students’ quality of education.
Now, I know better. I see the vast benefits that becoming a connected educator can have on a career and in a classroom. I teach at a small school in rural Texas, and I spearheaded a pilot program to introduce an education technology tool in the school. We used a platform called Edmodo, a social network intended for use in K-12 classrooms, and now this is our main source of communication with students district wide. For the first time, our students are working together in a collaborative space to share and learn from one another.
As the students embraced connected learning, I also began connecting with teachers outside my district on Edmodo and other social platforms, expanding my personal learning network with teachers from across the globe through many diverse groups and communities.
Eric Sheninger, principal at New Milford High School (@NMHS_Principal), once told me that “being connected isn’t just getting on Twitter.
Teachers can connect through Edmodo, Facebook, Pinterest — whatever they want to use. The whole point is just to connect with others outside of your school. Period!
This past year alone, my students and I connected with Olympic Gold Medalist Steve Mesler (@SteveMesler), 16-year-old 2012 ISEF Winner Jack Andraka (@JackAndraka), and classes from Sweden, Australia, Venezuela, Chile, Canada, the U.K., and more! What an incredible experience that they could have never achieved without this technology.
I don’t connect online just for myself. I connect for my students. They need me to be the best teacher I can be. And why would I NOT use the tools I have before me that are free, that can allow me to learn from superintendents, technology directors, principals, educators, and so many more. Getting connected isn’t just a fad that’s going away. There will be a clear difference between those teachers who choose to connect and learn from thousands, and those who don’t. Where will you stand? It’s time to get connected!
Todd Nesloney is an educator, author and speaker. He is one of the NSBA “20 to Watch” for 2013, a Classroom Champions Teacher, SMART Exemplary Educator, Star Discovery Educator, Remind101 Teacher Advisory Board Member, and a Flip Class Certified Instructor for Sophia.org. You can learn more about him at toddnesloney.com or on Twitter: @TechNinjaTodd.