I just finished reading Tom Whitby’s recent post on Connected Educators. It is a straightforward explanation of why one should be a Connected Educator. It also neatly categorizes educators into 3 groups: Connected, Semi-Connected, and Unconnected. I shall paraphrase, but please read his full blogpost for better understanding.
CONNECTED EDUCATORS: are digitally literate and use that literacy to learn and share with other educators; they write blogs and tweet to share what they have learned .
SEMI-CONNECTED EDUCATORS: choose to be strictly consumers of information through technology; they read blogs and they email; in face to face discussions they share what they have learned.
UNCONNECTED EDUCATORS: are not concerned with being relevant in the 21st Century (for whatever reason); whatever they need to know, someone will tell them
I think these categories are clear and neat. I think they help us understand the group of professionals who provide one of society’s most valuable resources. Teachers. I work with teachers. I work with teachers in all of these categories.
I love working with fellow teachers. I love sharing ideas and collaborating. I love their enthusiasm for their students. I love their desire to innovate, to try new things. I love their ability to be life-long learners.
You can be an Unconnected Educator and still be all of these things. Not being on twitter and not subscribing to blogs does not, in my opinion, devalue your professional ability. Yes, it does limit your frame of reference, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t draw invaluable insights from your current perspective.
I do not believe in trying to bully or scare people into doing what you want them to do. It just isn’t effective. Demanding that everyone create a Twitter account is pointless unless the individual sees the relevance of it for their profession. The vast majority of the teachers I work with are Unconnected Educators. They usually do wait for me to tell them what I’ve learned. And I’m ok with that for now.
I’m ok with that because I understand several things.
First, it takes time to become a Connected Educator. Years. It’s a process. You have to learn how it works. You have a lot to discover and there are very few experts around to answer your questions. You have to practice. Practice takes time, and gradually you get a little bit better at it. And even more gradually, you get a little bit braver. All of this takes time – and patience – and some courage.
Second, everyone’s motivation is different. I love to learn – it is what motivates me. But other people need other kinds of motivation. Their motivation is not always mine. I do not judge them for it. I work with them. I show them things that might enhance their classroom. I hope they will use some of them. I’m not expecting 100% implementation.
Third, in regard to my immediate circle of teachers, all of them have expressed a desire to be more connected. They WANT to be part of this whole ’21st Century thing’. However, it is HARD. No-one should underestimate how difficult it is for some of our veteran teachers to venture into the world of technology. I support all and any effort.
So, as I read Tom Whitby’s article, I agreed with his framework. It helped me better understand my environment. And I have to admit that sometimes I might get frustrated that none of my colleagues have read the things I’ve read on the Internet about education. It’s true. I have to admit it.
Yet these moments of frustration are fleeting. Just because they haven’t read as much as I have, doesn’t mean they don’t have valuable contributions to make to the discussion, drawn from their own experience and observation. In fact, learning from practice is the most valuable contribution that can be made to a discussion. Being a Connected Educator may add depth of reference to a discussion, but it is worthless if not grounded in practice. Teachers on the ground are the best resource.
I do not work with Connected Educators. But I love working with my fellow teachers. They are the most valuable resource.
Personally, by continuing to write this blog and reflect on my learning, by continuing to subscribe to blogs, and by building a robust PLN on twitter, I hope to make more progress on the road to becoming a Connected educator. I know that deciding to become a Connected Educator has accelerated my professional learning tenfold. And at work, I hope to continue to support my colleagues as they take their own steps on the path to becoming a Connected Educator.