Saturday, October 19, 2013

Being Connected: what #CE13 has meant to me

I started using Twitter back in 2009 for public outreach with an astronomy education job I had at the time, but other than a couple of forays into tweeting to get the word out about special events, I didn't really start using Twitter until February of this year. I dabbled here and there, gave my classes Twitter Challenges, and read a lot from other teachers who had been "PLN'ing" for years. But that was pretty much it.

In a sense, I was using Twitter in Web 1.0 fashion - doing a lot of reading and learning, but not so much connecting.

But the past two months, with my participation in #OOE13, getting involved in Twitter chats and experiencing Connected Educators' Month (#CE13), I see Twitter in a whole new light.

Not only is it where I can read up on what amazing educators are doing around the world, but I can also reach out to them; I can get advice, ideas, and encouragement; I can take what they are doing - things I would never have come up with on my own - try it out and give them feedback; I can contribute to discussions; I can build my own PLN - names (and some faces) I now readily recognize  who check in with me, and I with them, as we work collectively to become better teachers.

The most important facet of all this connectivity, though, is how much it inspires me. The more I get connected, the more I see what others are working to accomplish, the more I want to do myself. I want to put in the extra work in flipping my classroom. I want to apply for technology grants. I want to take risks and try new methods/software/strategies with my students. And I want to SHARE what I'm doing with other educators - both my successes and my failures. There has never been a mentor, pedagogical book, PD session or inspirational video that has motivated me to do this much.

#CE13 has shown me that though I may be geographically remote, I am far from alone. And while it is one thing to just sit back and learn, it is entirely another to become engaged in the teaching community around me in cyberspace, in order to push myself to new levels of teaching.

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