Today I approved more than 70 comments on my students’ blogs. Strangers from Canada, England, The Netherlands, New Zealand, and many states took the time to celebrate the writing my students do, to encourage them to write more, and to praise their voice. They shared stories of their own fire mishaps, their own resolutions, their own love of books. All because my students asked them to. All because I asked them to on Twitter. Today was not an anomaly. Today was simply another day in the life of my connected students.
I didn’t get connected myself at first so that I could connect my students. In fact, it didn’t even cross my mind. Why in the world would 4th graders need to have anything to do with the world? Why would I ever want them to open up to strangers or to let strangers have any kind of contact with them? Being connected was not something I saw as a necessity. Being connected was something they could figure out when they were much, much older.
But then we got connected. Once I started blogging, I realized that they should blog too. Once I started learning from strangers, I realized the power of reaching out to others that knew more than me and how the whole world could be my students’ teacher, not just me. I knew I was not enough anymore, and I was at peace with that.
Yet, I think we forget the power of connecting our students, even when we are connected ourselves. We talk about connected educators and all that it brings into our lives, but I think it is time we shift the conversation to that of connected students. Sure, I am connected, but that does not matter if my students are not.
So rather than just push teachers to get connected, let’s focus on getting their students connected too. Let’s focus on showing what bringing the world in means and how it can change the way students think about the world. Let’s focus on making global collaboration easy, even if on a small scale. It is not enough to be a connected educator anymore, we have to be connected educators that connect our students. We have to let our students reach out tot he world and see how the world answers. We have to trust them to do the right thing and teach them how to do it best. Just like we do for ourselves, we must push a global education, we are no longer enough in ourselves.