Nowadays, education is an ever improving area due to the technologies that arise on the go, aiming to make the learning experience a worthwhile, engaging one. But besides the fast rhythm in which teaching tools are emerging, one major aspect still needs to be taken into consideration – teachers. How do they keep pace with this tempo and adapt to it in order to make technology a partner ?
Debating this topic was the team behind the Connected Educators Month (CEM), held all through October 2014. CEM is an initiative that started back in 2012 and this year topped its third successful edition. Its main purpose: to explore the ways in which educators engage online to learn and improve instruction.
If you have never been part of a professional community or network the Connected Educator Month Starter Kit is a great place to start getting to know the whole happening. The kit includes relevant tips, tutorials, and ideas that will help you along your professional-learning journey, no matter where you’re starting from.
Throughout October, the community event reached teachers everywhere on topics about blended learning, collaboration and capacity building, along with subjects like creating opportunities for students to be agents in their own learning. Find out more about the debated topics right here.
The central theme though – that engaged educators communities worldwide – was that of discovering and applying methods which connect educators to new, approachable and exciting ways to transform their practice. So let’s dig in the main takeaways from CEM on how to become a connected educator.
It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of educators around the world are currently using Twitter to connect, share and collaborate. Start out by adding your @name Twitter to your email signature, voicemail or school website. Create a class Twitter account for your students to tweet from. Launch a blog for your Twitter chat so that you have somewhere to post your topics and questions and your students can prepare beforehand. After the Twitter chat, choose and announce the “tweet of the week” for the best tweet during the session. This will surely encourage students to produce quality tweets.
Collaborating with colleagues from the same branch is a great avenue for discovering new insights on how to approach teaching and technology. Sharing your experience with different tools and giving advice on how to handle them better shortens the way to improved results. You can team up with a colleague to observe and evaluate each other’s practice or use online forms to write and track your overall activity. Choose the community that best fits your improvement needs from the list sorted by the CEM staff.
Involving parents in the whole teaching-learning-rediscovering education process can bring valuable insights into student behaviour. You can set up a class website in order to keep transparent and provide parents with information or gather feedback about the improvements students are making. Tools like Remind, let you stay in touch with parents via texting and keep them posted about test, events or other classroom activity.
Being part of your students learning process means not only offering the materials and evaluate their acquired knowledge. You can improve next teaching experiences by just letting them voice their feedback on the lesson or on the overall teacher performance. Showing that you care about their input and are open to make the necessary changes for a more operative environment will surely stir up engagement.
Start your teaching blog and give your teaching beliefs a written voice. With so many ed blogs out there, make sure you join the conversation in a relevant way so that you can bunch up and engage your audience. Learn to first listen to the ed bloggers community, get to know the main topics discussed and jump in with your part of know-how. Edutopia shares an amazing collection of resources, tips, and examples to help you get started!
These are just a few highlights of the simple and efficient ways in which you can connect. But go on and try out further well known tools and adapt them to your classroom needs. Connect through Skype in order to collaborate with other classes. Share your project ideas on Pinterest or use Feedly to curate all the valuable infos you lay hands on. Create a system that permits you to connect the dots between technology and pedagogy in a meaningful way, the connected educator way.