Let’s Get Connected
Building a connected classroom doesn’t have to be difficult, but before you start investing the time and energy, it’s a good idea to become a connected teacher.
Using technology to connect your students to others around the globe helps your students break down the walls that traditionally exist in the classroom to build bridges to other people, countries, and cultures. When teaching your students how to think globally and connect with others around the world, it’s important that you do the same. We’ve discussed being connected in earlier posts too.
What’s a Connected Teacher?
A connected teacher is a teacher that is connected to other educators and education resources on social media through communities and networks.
These communities and networks can help you make the transition to being a connected teacher and having a connected classroom a smooth one. They are designed to allow you to share your experiences, ask for advice, and get inspiration for ways to bring technology into your classroom.
Building a personal learning network (PLN) can help you get the most out of your time online. Rather than searching blindly for topics that you teach, you can make a curated list of educators to follow.
Twitter is a great social network to use to build your PLN. You can follow a community by following an education based hashtag, or you can follow educators directly. There are many Twitter lists that exist that contain educators you can follow based upon grade, subject, or location where you teach. These lists will give you a starting point of who to follow
While it may be tempting to just have someone tell you who to follow, it’s important to spend the time to curate your network so you’re getting value from it. Follow educators that you inspire to be like, that have innovative ideas you’d like to try, or that are in the same state or country as you.
Who do you follow?
Start off small – it’s better to have a few quality educators in your list that you can follow, rather than be overwhelmed with a large list.
What communities should I follow to find the people that I can learn from?
Lucky for us some educators have created easy to search websites of educational hashtags.
Our personal favorite is:
It might not be the prettiest of web pages, but it is a great list of educational Twitter communities that exist on Twitter.
Shake Up Learning also has a nice database of educational Twitter communities. You can visit them both and decide for yourself which one works best for you.
Another feature of Twitter to help you build your PLN is the ability to create lists of users. You can create your own “community list” based on whatever criteria you want. It could be topic based, location based, or passion based. You get to decide. Twitter lists can be either private or public. Public lists are great as they allow others to share their lists with you so you can follow them.
We’ve created a twitter list of the Connected Teachers that feature in our Let’s Get Connected Series. That’s a great list of educators to start getting connected to.
Here are some of our own personal lists of educators we follow:
Remember … your PLN is “personal” to you. Who are we to tell you who to follow or who might learn the most from? Our PLN is unique to us and yours will be unique to you.
There are many blog posts out there titled “15 Educators to follow on Twitter” or 50, or 100. The problem is, those lists might not work for you. You have to create your own personal network, not start with someone else’s. Telling you who to follow can be a bottomless pit of a trap to fall into. You see it’s not just about following, it is about knowing who in the community is a “good fit” for you. That is why starting with communities, following those communities and then building your network from them is a much smarter approach.
Grow your list by looking at what others are sharing. If you find yourself continually reading tweets from a specific person, that is a good person to follow. Maybe you click on a link in a tweet and find that perfect resource. Chances are that person will share other things you will find valuable in the future so follow them as well.
And don’t be afraid to unfollow people either. If there’s no longer value in following that person, their tweets will only clog up your twitter feed.
ICYMI (In case you missed it!)
You might like to check out our YouTube Series: Let’s Get Connected.
This series of videos features some of our network of connected teachers from schools around the world share their thoughts on the value of being a connected teacher and having a connected classroom.
Do you have parents in your classrom asking about how to manage digital devices at home?
We’ve written a series just for them! It’s called #HeyLookUp
After signing up, Parents will receive a series of 6 emails that will help them balance their family’s digital life.
Each email in the series:
- Is based on concerns from parents like them!
- Has easy, fast, practical tips & strategies
- Includes references to research-based articles
You can sign up too if you’re interested in seeing what content we share with parents!
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