What Connected Educators Do Differently

b437fc27f47f9f13c721d09109968686This book really spoke to me, validating my work in recent years to develop a professional learning network, and my desire to expand this and become more connected. Written by Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul, and Jimmy Casas, it acts as a call to arms for using social media (particularly Twitter) to connect and the importance of relationships (the 3 R’s: relationships, relationship, relationship) in education. This blogpost is just a bunch of ideas I extracted while reading the book and things I felt were worth revisiting.

Definition of a connected educator: “[educators] who are actively and constantly seeking new opportunities and resources to grow as professionals” (xxiii)

Principle of the 3 C’s: focus on Communication, Collaboration and Community. Invest in these principles!

“Who is helping you get better, or – more importantly – who is inspiring you to want to be great?” (30).

The challenge facing schools today is the ability to cultivate a culture wherein all members of the school community feel comfortable in disrupting routines long established by the status quo and embrace a connected world which is ready to support their desire to learn without limits (30)

Guide to setting up Twitter:

Strive to be tomorrow…today. Make a bigger impact by following these suggestions, which can be used as something like a checklist:

  1. Speed meet and greet – icebreakers to connect staff and create a family culture.
  2. Make it personal – give teachers time during professional learning to call 5 parents they would not otherwise and share with the parent something awesome about their child.
  3. The welcome wagon – have a select group of staff meet every new student in the school and ask them about their new experience being welcomed into the community.
  4. Making invisible students visible – during meetings, put up a list up of every student in the school and ask staff to write one thing about each one beside the name, those who have nothing are invisible and you can then think of a way to cultivate a relationship with that student.
  5. This week on twitter – share inspiring tweets with the school.
  6. Thank a parent or  a staff member – call the parents of the new teachers and let them know how great it is to have them working at the school.
  7. Two a day – two personal notes a day to staff from the SMT/PL
  8. Invite them back – call those who have dropped out of school and personally invite them back.
  9. Accentuate the positive – at SMT/HOFS/DEANS/PL talk about a teacher who has made a difference and then follow up with a note to that teacher.
  10. Celebrate good times – each faculty should start meetings with a successful learning story.
  11. Front and centre – Have the Principal greet people for a day – sit in reception.
  12. Student Leadership Teams – Host them for a monthly lunch.
  13. Exchange dates – host exchanges with other schools to swap teachers and students – model connections with others.
  14. Local educamp – partner with neighbouring schools and host a camp re professional learning development together.
  15. Televise the tweets – on a public TV at your school.
  16. #oneperson – have staff members name one person who has made a difference in their lives and write their address and a message on a postcard. Store these and send them in December.

These ideas and the overall purpose of the book speaks to the importance of relationships. Professional relationships beyond the school through social media can foster collaboration and widen your community and the impact of your teaching and learning.

In the concluding chapter, the authors surmised that connected educators:

  • establish their professional learning network
  • begin to learn what they want, when they want, and how they want (greater knowledge of themselves as a learner)
  • focus on communication, collaboration and community
  • have a ‘giving mindset’
  • strive to be tomorrow, today
  • always focus on relationships, relationships, relationships.
  • model the way
  • and know when to unplug (126).

I’ll be taking many of these ideas forward with me now. Cannot speak more highly of this book and the passion with which it is clearly written.

Whitaker, Todd, Zoul, Jeffrey & Casas, Jimmy (2015) What Connected Educators Do Differently. New York: Routledge.


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