Be the change, connections, reflection

It Is Not Enough to Be a Connected Educator Anymore

image from icanread

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.


15 thoughts on “It Is Not Enough to Be a Connected Educator Anymore”

  1. My students blogs are currently private, because of concerns of parents about their children’s safety. How do you get students connected while respecting parent safety concerns?

  2. I can’t agree with this enough. It’s incredibly empowering for students to see their work touch the lives of people they never would have met.

  3. Thank you so much for posting this. Often, I feel like questions that are burning in my mind are addressed in your posts! Just like I have to trust myself to blog and explore my teaching, I have to allow my students to do the same.

    Today, my class started blogging and we used your students as mentor texts to explore possible topics, styles, etc…they were thrilled to see how connected other kids could be to the world and it ignited a spark in them.

    Thank you for inspiring both my students and me to blog!

  4. The flip side to this unfortunately is that many teachers have their students blog with out blogging themselves. In my mind that’s equally not right. Like you, I followed a similar path. I started blogging, realized how powerful it was, and had my grade one students blogging shortly there after. We are a connected class – teacher and students – even though my students are only six. This can, and should happen at every age level by teachers and students alike.

  5. Hi Pernille,
    Thanks for this post – much to think about here but I wonder if it is possible to look at this as more than the need to blog? Students today need their own PLN and the information literacy skills to scavenge for the pieces they need in amongst the avalanche. They are in school at a time when asking an expert might be a twitter username away and connecting might just be as simple as having the courage to ask a question in 140 characters. Establishing their own Personal Learning Network is a gift they could give themselves.
    Thanks again for such a stimulating post, cheers, Deb (@debhoggoz)

    1. Absolutely much more to connecting than blogging. That just happens to be one of the main ways we do it. However, I think it is any type of connection, even if it is just with the 1st grade classroom down the hallway is detrimental to our students’ now.

  6. While being able to use the internet to find valuable connections outside of our physical contact is an amazing ability, I sometimes worry that teachers get so carried away with this they forget that the most valuable connections can be made with the other students in their class, or down the hall. The same goes for collaboration. This is not to say in any way that connecting or collaborating beyond our physical space through technology is a bad thing, but just like any other tool, use it when it’s the best way to achieve something. Often the best connections will be from the people around us. That of course can go for blog posts too. In my role as a tech coach, I encourage my teachers to put aside at least 1 to 2 periods a week for reading student’s blogs from other classes and commenting.

    1. Yes, I agree with you! It is not just about connecting with the big world but also the local world. I think it is vital for students to break outside of their classroom in any way possible, whether it be with the kids next door or kids across the world.

  7. Hi Pernille,
    I have recently found your blog and am an avid follower. Thank you so much for taking the time to write.
    The various links to sites that you recommend have been very inspiring so much so that I am going to start my class (we begin the new school year at the end of this month) all with their own blogs. I am also hoping to do the Global read aloud and some mystery skyping but this is all new to me so I will start with baby steps.
    I want to thank you for the link to the settings that you use for your class blogs – most helpful. At the moment I am playing around with it all using a pretend student and logging in and out as me then the “student” so that I can see what both screens look like. It’s taking me ages but I am on holiday and I want to learn it by trial and error before I let the kids loose.
    Thank you once again and “Congratulations” on the birth of your darling wee girl.

  8. When I was in a 1:1 school, student blogging was so easy – and many of them have kept up their blogs in years since.

    In a school with more limited tech, I’m thinking of having a blog club. Gets it started anyway…

    Can you send me links to some student blogs that would be good examples for my students in Australia?


  9. I have created a “Broader Connections Rubric” which invites students to look for and make connections within not only their own lives/family, but within their own “defined” community, region/state, country, as well as on the global scale. It challenges students yet allows them the freedom to make a multitude of connections while exploring, researching, and gathering related information to the original text, lesson, question, objective, problem, etc .., As students move from one level to the next they begin to transform into students who are sensitive, aware, educated, and engaged on issues related to the initial task.
    They then are asked to present their findings or new information (Broader Connections) using any means they see fit while clearly explaining the relevance of the “connections” along the way. This allows them to not only be creative and innovative but also encourages the use of technology, collaboration, and oftentimes social or civic engagement. Most importantly it changes their role from student to teacher. It is a win/win. 1) The students get choices, yet are still held accountable for their own actions and level of engagement/contribution, 2) the class culture is showered with success stories, newly discovered information, and relevant connections, and 3) the teacher or what I like to refer to as “Talent Developer” turns potential cubical classroom institutionalized robots into sensitive, educated, creative seekers of knowledge enroute to becoming positive contributors to a 21st Century ever-changing Global Society while broadening the lens in which students view a particular educational activity.
    Please follow @ UScreativity on Twiiter and check out “connect” on LinkedIn

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