Becoming a connected educator; what does it mean and why does it matter? These are just a few of
the questions the middle school faculty considered the past two years as we explored new pathways to self-directed learning, transparency and innovation.
The foundation of connected learning existed at the middle school and across our district long before the arrival of Connected Educators Month. A consistent theme of the professional learning community philosophy is
collaboration and collegiality. Knowing best practice and implementing high leverage strategies are very different things. Cultural traditions can lead many schools and districts to operate as “a collection of
independent contractors united by a common parking lot” (Bob Eaker). Collaboration and collective inquiry encourages reflective practice and can help eliminate isolated instructional practice. Our professional development is no different.
Self-directed learning is not new. This has occurred the past several years in pockets with teachers subscribing to RSS feeds, blogs, nings and interacting in other web 2.0 environments (Pearltrees, Diigo, etc.). What has been missing is the element of transparency and exchange of ideas, resources and practices. Another word for that is modeling.
Our faculty has done an outstanding job incrementally modeling what it means to be connected learners.
@artsyclassroom was an early adopter of Twitter on our faculty, sharing resources and new understandings with colleagues in her department. @MrRubey and @marriott_nikki led the way with gamification, sharing this new
approach to formative assessment and learner engagement. @marriott_nikki has incorporated screencasts into her instructional delivery and has shared this practice with the staff. @bjam10 has consistently modeled content curation at the middle school over the past six years. @farmgirl13801 has been a strong advocate for the use of Pearltrees as a tool to collect, organize and share web content. @mnebel provided the push, encouragement and support for many of our faculty members to enter Twitter as a learning space.
@ESMSlibrary is facilitating regular small group workshops for teachers to learn about new digital tools and strategies. Over the past two years the middle school faculty has taken steps to share their thinking and learning with a wider audience. Over fifty original blog posts have been developed and shared on the middle school PD blog since the fall of 2012.
Post by Chris Hubbuch | Excelsior Springs Middle School Principal
This will be a resource built by the staff for the staff to encourage integration of 21st century skills into every student's learning.