Thoughts on Being a ‘Connected Educator’

I was recently asked by an administrator to come up with an explanation of what it is I do as a ‘connected educator.’ This has provided me with a great opportunity to pause after the whirlwind of a first 2 months as an elementary librarian and reflect on my learning thus far. What follows is the blurb I’ve sent along in an attempt to capture the essence of my ‘connectedness.’

As an educator new to the role of school librarian, I am grateful for the personal learning network (PLN) that I have built and am continually expanding through social networks and technology. Those who work with me know that Twitter is currently my favorite tool to connect, share, and learn professionally. On an almost daily basis it seems, I email a link or catch someone in the hall and say ‘I found this idea on Twitter, and thought you might be interested…’ I would consider myself a ‘connected teacher-librarian,’ and love this explanation of what that means, courtesy of Joyce Valenza.

However, it is the mindset with which I approach Twitter that is more important than the tool. I have learned so much from teacher-librarians and others in education across the country that are sharing the amazing things that their students are learning and creating with a wider/global audience. I’ve recently been sharing weekly plans on Twitter and samples of student work on our Coopertown Library Website. (Be sure to check out the e-books our Kindergarteners contributed to). Whether using Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or another social network, the underlying values of connectedness and sharing among educators is key.

October was Connected Educator Month. As an initiative of the Office of Educational Technology at the US Dept. of Education, its mission is to “help educators thrive in a connected world.”  A variety of ways for educators to participate were provided. I posted regularly to the group on Twitter using the hashtag #ce13 and also joined a book club discussing Invent to Learn with its authors Gary Stager & Sylvia Martinez. I had come across the book over the summer while attending EdcampSTEAM. The book has guided my thought process in proposing and creating a ‘maker’ club and led to the discovery that Mitch Resnick, Director of the Media Lab at MIT and featured in Invent to Learn, is a Haverford High School alum.

I recently attended the Edscape Conference, featuring George Couros as the keynote. George mentioned that great learning should be like a viral video on YouTube, and that isolation is now a choice that educators make. In just these first few months of school, my PLN has informed many of the projects and lessons that occur in the Coopertown Library, and has provided a group of my students the opportunity to participate in Read for the Record with students from Iowa. I have also been collaborating with librarians from Iowa, Texas, and Montana on a blogging project we are hoping to start with all of our 2nd grade students soon as part of their fairy tale unit.

I will be sharing some of the great learning we are doing through our library website, and encourage you to check it out periodically.  Feel free to follow me on Twitter @christybrenn as well as the hashtag #havtolearn that teachers across the district will be using to share resources.

-Christina Brennan

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