being a teacher, being me, connect, connections

There Is Not Just One Right Way to Be A Connected Educator

I am a connected educator, whatever you think that term means.  To me it means that at any given moment I have access to thousands, if not millions, of teachers around the world that can help me further my practice.  I got those connections because I chose to use social media.  I leverage Twitter every day to learn more about being a better teacher.  I blog to get further discussion.  However, I also work diligently on connecting with people at my school and in my community.  I use those people to further my craft every day.  So I get that being a connected educator is a great thing, but when we discuss what being connected means to teachers and use exclusionary terms such as saying that you have to use social media to be connected, we are doing nothing for the good of getting people connected.  Instead we sound like a bunch of jerks.  If we want people to get connected then we have to realize that while the way we are connected may be the most brilliant thing that ever happened to us, might not work for others.  And that doesn’t mean they can’t be a connected educator.

Yes, I believe in the power of social media, but no it is not the only way to be connected.  We cannot say teachers are not teaching well if they are not connected via social media.  Or that they are harming their students.  Or that their methods are antiquated.  You can be connected using non-social media tools, like Skype, like email, like texting, like meeting someone for a cup of coffee.Who am I to say that my way of connecting, using Twitter or another social media platform, is somehow better than that?  That my connections are worth more?  Yet, that is what I see happen again and again.  For what purpose?

If we are trying to get educators to be more connected, which I absolutely agree with, then we have to realize that those types of connections can happen in many ways.  I would even say that some of my best connections are those that happened without social media being our link.  Not all of them but some of them.  Why not give credit to those types of connections as well rather than only the ones that happen on social media?  I know several teachers who are connected on social media and they have not used it for the amazing things we assume everybody does on these platforms.  Somehow we have invented a fake reality where all teachers who use social media are amazing.

In the end, it doesn’t matter as much HOW we are connected but rather that we are.  I agree that teachers choose to be in isolation in this day and age, but we cannot claim that using social media to connect is the best way for all.  That simply isn’t true.  Connections help us grow when they matter to us.  Not because of how they happened.  Let’s not lose sight of what the greater goal is; to get more teachers to be connected.  Let’s not think we know how to do it best, but rather offer multiple ways for others to connect.  We need to stop saying there is only one right way, it doesn’t help our purpose.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” will be published by Routledge in the fall.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.


My Blog Goes to Facebook

I am still not sure where I am headed with this, but I am trying it anyway.  I felt that this blog, “Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension” needed another dimension, one in which people can interact more and express their opinions. I also wanted a place to showcase some of the incredible stuff I see and read on a day-to-day basis, somewhere to collect my thoughts other than Twitter with its fast pace.

So I have a Facebook page now for the blog, nothing too fancy, nothing too much, just a simple page where I hope others will share their thoughts on the thoughts I share.  Where I hope others will post things that make them think.  Join me there for another dimension than just this one.

Join this blog on Facebook. 

connect, PLN, twitter

A Not So Delusional Guide to Twitter

I have read so many posts on how to get on Twitter and get connected, many of them offer fantastic advice and yet some of them keep reiterating how it is all about following.  Follow one person, and then see who they follow, and then follow them, and soon you will be following so many people you will feel like the most popular kid in the school.  Except you don’t.  Instead you feel like the kid who came to prom only to take pictures of all the cool people there.  So I offer up these tips instead for those trying to figure out Twitter.

  1. Follow one person, or even 10 but then stop.  Let yourself process what Twitter is and how these people are using the tool.  Don’t mass follow, you will find enough people to follow, just take your time.
  2. Connect.  Once you have a couple of people you follow, reach out to them.  Tell them you are new, tell them your story, and comment on their blogs.  Open up about yourself, start a conversation, and give them a reason to connect back.
  3. Don’t give up.  Sometimes I felt like the biggest loser when it came to Twitter; no one thought I was witty, no one rt’ed my posts, until I realized that this is not what Twitter is about.  Twitter is about the connections (I know, I sound like a broken record) so it is not about the retweets or single comments but the dialogue you get involved in and the people you meet.
  4. Who cares about Klout?  I didn’t realize I had a klout number until my husband asked me what it was.  Then I had to look it up because that little number meant nothing to me; it still doesn’t.  If you are asking whether Twitter is worth your time you probably haven’t connected with the right people, so keep connecting.
  5. Don’t worry about the popular kids.  One thing for ongoing discussion has been the grades of popularity Twitter educators seem to have.  Sure there are people with massive followings, but guess what?  They are normal people and they probably have that many followers because they say some really great things and they are good at connecting with others.  It is okay to reach out to them as well, no one is off limits.

So there you have it, my small piece of advice on how to get something out of Twitter.  Of course, you can follow as many people as you want, but think about what your true goal is: numbers or connections?  I for one count my connections just as much as I count my blessings.

challenge, connect, connections, honesty

A Challenge to All

I was the new kid in town 4 times before I turned 14.  I hated being the new kid.  My sister, Christine, was a dazzler.  She made new friends simply because she arrived, she drew people to her, and she still does.  I was the awkward kid that kind of looked like a boy, had huge feet, and was way too serious for her age.  Not a great combination for dazzling new people.  So when I first joined Twitter, I felt the clammy hand of past embarrassment gain hold of me.  What if no one cared?  What if no one responded?  What if no one followed?  I want to say that I joined Twitter to learn, which I did, but I also joined the blogging and tweeting world to connect with people, and it is this connection that keeps me coming back every day.  It’s the connection that urges me to get others to join, that makes me write my heart out on this blog, and that makes me push myself into new challenges.  But what if you just can’t make that connection?

There were a couple of people who immidiately took me under their wing Lisa Dabbs @Teachingwthsoul, Edna Sackson @WhatEdSaid and Joan Young @Florishingkids.  If it hadn’t been for them, I don’t think I would still be tweeting.  So as I look at my own follower count and see it grow way beyond this shy girl’s expectations, I wonder, who can I reach out to and how?  How can we make deeper connections, especially with those people that like me felt like the new kid in town?  How can we let people know that Twitter is all about connections and not to be afraid to reach out?

I think a movement has gained momentum lately spearheaded by Katie Hellerman who posted this incredible video: The Connection Challenge.  This then sparked an amazing post by Jabiz Raisdana called “Next Level” which urged us all to reach out and open up.  Cale Birks came up with the idea of the Ten Picture Tour of our schools, which you can follow on Twitter under #10PIXTR. And today Justin Tarte wrote a great post asking what can we do to keep the momentum going called “It’s All about Sustainable Momentum..” 

So I have been wanting to open up, after all, I am way to honest on my blog anyway.  And the one world that we often keep hidden is our home, afterall, we can hide behind our computers. What if we did the 10 picture of our homes instead?  Wouldn’t that also provide another layer to our connection?  If you see the mess I sit in every day when I blog, will it make you know me better?  So I offer up this challenge:

Do a 10 picture tour of your home.  Nothing fancy, I don’t expect masterpieces.

Post it on your blog and tweet it out using the same hashtag #10PIXTR (I hope that’s alright).

 Let’s see if we can take this connection one step further.

being a teacher, believe, connect, education reform, embrace, hero, inspiration, kids, love

We are Superheroes

We are superheroes. Or at least in the eyes of some students, we are. We can do magic such as melt styrofoam cups, solve complicated algorithms in our head instantaneously, and know exactly what is happening behind us when our backs are turned. We are all-knowing, knowing who needs a hand, a soothing word, a joke. We come to the rescue of students that are lost, disheartened, upset over a fight with another child. And we love endlessly, always ready to share , hug (if allowed), laugh, and even cry. We are superheroes.

And yet, sometimes we forget that, and a raised voice stains our image. A sharpness of tone shows that we might be a little bit evil. A lost temper may prove it once and for all. And the students watch, and talk, and remember. And yet, they continue to believe because we build it back up. We continue our quest to make them superhuman, to make them believe in themselves. To pass on our powers as healers of the world, changers, movers, learners, teachers. We do it all and we do it out of love, respect, necessity. We let our students become our mission because someone has to show them that there is faith that they too will become superheroes one day, that they too will believe in others, that they too will change a life. So believe in yourself so that others may believe in you as well. The difference is being made, just look into the eyes of your students and you will see it. They believe in you, now believe in them.

believe, choices, community, connect, education, educators, honesty, hopes, inspiration, invest, leader, learning, life choices, Mentor, promise, reform, Superman, teaching, trust

I am the Reform

I am the reform when I trust other teachers.

I am the reform when I stand united, and not divided.

I am the reform when I discuss, assess, and learn with my students.

I am the reform when I trust in others.

I am the reform when I ask for observation, feedback, and growth opportunities.

I am the reform when I discuss, even with people with whom I disagree.

I am the reform when I reflect, reject and reinvent.

I am the reform when I ask for help.

I am the reform when I learn more.

I am the reform when I am not afraid.

I am the reform when I listen and I speak.

I am the reform when I believe.

Are you the reform?