Being a Connected Educator

Staying Connected 

I am a connected educator.  I blog, share resources, tweet, post to Facebook, teach for three educational institutions and present at conferences to share my passion about technology in education. I ask my PLN (Professional Learning Network) for help when I need it and lend a hand when the need is theirs.

Connected Educators share and learn year round but October brings extra attention to the concept. #CE14 is an international effort to connect educators that is led by the US Department of Education.  The organization does a great job of offering suggestions and activities for each day of the month.  The website contains a downloadable pdf that has daily activities for you to learn about to become more connected.
Connected also contains a daily calendar of worldwide events that you can participate in.

Why Bother?

Educators are some of the most overworked folks out there (we won't even delve into the pay). So many of you may be wonder why you would bother to connect with others when your plate is already full. PLNs are powerful.  Here are the benefits that I see in them:
  • They keep me current in the field
  • They give my students a voice outside of classroom walls
  • They let me know that I am not alone when I experience frustration, wonder or joy professionally
  • They provide me with fresh ideas
  • They let me brag about the awesome things I want to share
  • They allow me to learn anytime, anywhere
  • They award me opportunities to act as a leader
  • They are FREE!!

Nicole's PLN

The amount of resources I gain from strangers is absolutely staggering.  While I couldn't possibly list them all here there are a few go-to resources that always come first for me. colleagues and undergraduate students will tell you they've heard enough about Twitter already!!  But I can't help it. There are so many options for learning and sharing on Twitter in a non-threatening way.  You can follow others and simply "lurk" gathering ideas, resources and overall chit-chat.  Chances are you will soon start to join the conversation via retweets, your own tweets and Twitter chats.  If you are new to Twitter and need a little kick-start here is a Twitter guide I created for just that reason.

Illinois Computing Educators has done more for me professionally than almost any other organization.  Through ICE I have met many like-minded educators that have helped my practice grow leaps and bounds.  ICE has many ways to connect:  we host monthly webinars for our members (please consider joining!), just last month we launched our very first Twitter Chat which was a huge success that left all of us feeling pumped up and excited to go to work the next day. We have a fantastic conference every February with over 3,000 educators in attendance- but you don't have to wait until then to learn from ICE: there are local chapters across the state that hold mini-conferences available to any educator interested.  Check out the website for more.

Teachability is new on the scene but a fantastic place to connect with others.  This site features "Communities" that you can join for free to get in touch with others interested in the same topics. One of my favorite features of this site is that it contains a community for First Year Teachers. Teaching is difficult but more so for those new to the profession!  This community allows them to have a safe place to share.  Another super cool thing Teachability does is allows teachers to take over their Instagram account each week!  It gives us a glimpse into classrooms around the world for a week at a time.  What we learn is that we are all the same! And yes...sometimes we steal bulletin board ideas from each other...

Where Do I Start?

If you've read this blog post up until this point hopefully I've given you the itch to become a connected educator! To get started I would recommend taking a look at the Connected Educator site and viewing their toolkit.  

If you are ready to dive right in, getting on Twitter is a great place to start.  Follow me @nmzumpano and look through the people that I follow to get some ideas of your own.  Go to the #CE14 page (put that phrase including the hashtag in the search field) to grab hold of some of the excitement!

If you wanted a tad bit more about Professional Learning Networks feel free to check out my Prezi below.  Happy Connecting!!


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