Welcome back. I’ve been off for a bit as I was writing papers and finishing my final summary for my EC&I 831 course but now those are finished and I’m getting back into the routines of podcasting and blogging. This podcast is a special one in that I am again trying some new stuff!
In this episode I include 4 different interviews that I did a few weeks ago about being a connected educator. Each educator really brings out some important points but there are a few things I would like to elaborate on:
1. It’s about relationships – it’s the core of what being an educator is all about. Yes, we have new tools to use and there are so many new apps out there but, when we focus on the relationships, whether it’s in the building we teach or across the world, we are tapping into the essence of what it means to be an educator.
2. It’s allowing others to use the tools. Too often the “wow is that cool” overshadows how will/can it be used for learning. As an administrator, it was great to see teachers use new tools in their classroom but the real magic is when they allow the students to use the tools to demonstrate learning. This is obvious in the part of the interview with Amy where she describes her students using a tool – that’s the power. Yes, educators can use the tools to create “great lessons” but it’s about the students creating “great learning”! Too often I see something like this –
Yes the tools are cool BUT what is the learning about? If you’re making ____________ with ______________ and saying “I can do this and then have it to use for years – you’ve just created the equivalent of the digital overhead.
Get students to make the examples with whatever tool. And yes, making something for a flipped class might be used again but don’t make a habit of it – things change so much in – well – a week. Yes, you and your teacher friends can share and make neat little explanation videos or examples but how much more powerful to let students make them or to mix things up with examples from online. Put the tools in hands of the learners – get beside/behind them and help them with their learning – ask them questions about the learning and what they are doing. Too often students are limited to the “cool tool” the teacher finds. Honestly, I learn about tools mostly because my kids share them with me and I visit sites with new ideas for tools regularly but that doesn’t mean all tools need to be used. It’s becoming almost epidemic where educators are trying to find a way to incorporate every new tool or new app that comes along. The tools will change, rapidly but the relationships will still be there. Build these as the foundation for learning. Really, the students will bring you suggestions if they know you are open to them demonstrating their learning in different ways.
3. Start small. Get involved on a small scale but make it a habit. Read the twitter feed every morning as you have a coffee. Find a podcast and listen as you workout or drive home. Saturday morning, spend time reading different educational blogs. Friday night take a few minutes to watch a TEDed talk or two. Begin to build your connections using such things as Feedly, Youtube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Zite, Scoop.it, Flipboard, Learnist, Instagram, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Google+, Pearltrees, – delve into your own passions and where you are as a learner. Do’t hesitate the reach out to others and ask them questions. I find it so great to help teachers with developing their own Personal Learning Network (PLN) and their own Personal Learning Environment (PLE) where they begin to add and manage the tools they are using for learning and sharing in a way that taps into their own learning styles.
4. Begin to be Critical of what you are reading/hearing. I’ve learned that there is much of what I read is very much personal opinions, like this podcast and blog. It’s the thoughts and propositions of people with ideas about education and teaching so read with a critical mind. I don’t always agree with what is being passed off even if it is from someone “popular”. Being popular doesn’t mean more than you have tapped into the commonality of the majority. Be a critical consumer – “Is it best for students?” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. What is the author presenter saying? What are they selling? As Daniel Pink points out in To Sell is Human
– make that we – are engaged in what I call “non-sales selling.” We’re persuading, convincing, and influencing others to give up something they’ve go in exchange for what we’ve got.
It’s important to realize that education and the educational market is a huge place for people to “sell”. Be critical of what you are being presented. Such things as this
are examples of people who are selling to educators using a social media platform. I’m not against people selling their ideas but I do wish they’d be very upfront – this is my book and these are my views that I’m promoting here. Educators need to be critical consumers. Branding is an important part of the what is taking part on social media and being aware that people are using these platforms to promote their brands and sell their brands is important as a critical educational consumer.
I hope you enjoy this podcast. Are there topics you would like to see covered in the podcast? Let me know!