Friday, August 3, 2012

My Wish for Connected Educator Month

For the past six months, I have actively grown my PLN and followed various great educators who encourage connecting on a daily basis. I suppose I could be considered part of the connected education community.  So, when "Connected Educator Month" (CEM) began, I was excited and anticipating all the wonderful learning I would partake in throughout the month. 

I have spent 7 hours in the past three days in webinars and discussions in association with CEM, plus multiple hours following #ce12 on twitter, but I must say I am somewhat disappointed. I feel the majority of ideas shared so far are focused on the concept of building a PLN or sharing very broad, philosophical information rather than the nuts and bolts of how to utilize much of this in the classroom. This appears to be "preaching to the choir" as those who are tweeting about #ce12 are already somewhat connected. Will teachers connect more after CEM? Sure, its possible. However, wouldn't we be better served by balancing the philosophy discussions with the actions needed to move forward? 

August is not only CEM, but also Laurie Halse Anderson's "Write Fifteen Minutes a Day Challenge" Month. While Laurie Halse Anderson has exhibited amazing writing success, she brings this month of challenges down to the level of the average person with or without writing experience. She encourages all to join in the writing challenge (philosophical), and she also provides down-to-earth writing prompts and ideas to get started (action steps). On yesterday's challenge, the following quote was shared:

“When I start writing, I rarely know what I’m writing about. Am I writing about all of those great abstract nouns that you’ve ever heard about — love, integrity, honor, compassion or whatever? The writer’s job is to take those great abstract nouns and turn them into flesh and blood and bones. Then they are real.”
Harry Crews 

So, Connected Educator Month participants, I encourage you to discuss philosophy but also bring those "great abstract nouns" down to action steps for us. Show us how being connected has helped you specifically. Share a story from your school where having students collaborate improved learning. If you are a Project-Based Teacher, give us specific ways you implement that learning in your classroom and the success you observed. Link us with resources that have meant a lot to you in your classroom experiences. We are already members of "the choir", but we want to improve our craft. It reminds me of the famous Chinese proverb: "Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Give us the philosophy but also teach us HOW to implement that thinking specifically for the most benefit to all. 

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