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Finding Common Ground

A former K-5 public school principal turned author, presenter, and leadership coach, DeWitt provides insights and advice for education leaders. He can be found at www.petermdewitt.com. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion

Connected Education: Take as Much as You Want

By Spike Cook — October 02, 2015 3 min read
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Today’s guest post is written by Spike Cook, Principal of RM Bacon Elementary School in the Millville Public School District (Millville, NJ).

What does it mean to be connected? First and foremost, October is Connected Educators Month, and you can go on-line to take as much as you want. It doesn’t mean violating copyright laws or offering someone’s intellectual property as your own. However, it does mean you need to find the resources and the people who can help you change the mindset in your school. Think of it as entering into your own favorite buffet. Choose what you want as you make your way through the line.

Everyday millions of educators throughout the world are sharing ideas, successes, failures and resources. Thankfully, they take the time to post their learning through blogs, articles, videos and podcasts for others to see. It is all out there for the taking!

Where are the great ideas?

For instance, you may follow one of the many educators on Twitter who are talking about classroom design. You realize that it is an area that needs improvement in your school but there hasn’t been anything that caught your eye. Then, you see a picture of a classroom in Missouri (Thanks Bob Dillon) and you share it with your grade level partners.

Look what I saw on Twitter. We could try this in our first grade class.”

Perhaps you are looking to take your video production to the next level. You may want to check our Brad Gustafson in Minnesota and see all of the amazing videos he posts using TouchCast. “Look what I saw a principal doing in Minnesota,” you may say, “I want to try that!

Maybe you are searching for ideas to improve the connections between families, community and the school. You might want to check out Ben Gilpin’s weekly school blog that features an inspiration story, pictures from around the school, and resources for further inquiry.

All of this is literally at your fingertips.

Take a few ideas, take as many as you want, and watch your school climate and culture change for the better. There is no one monitoring how much learning you take from this buffet. In fact, take this article, print it out and put it in your faculty lounge for someone else to take. Chances are, you will begin taking more than you are sharing, but if you take enough, you might start paying it forward!

Where can you start?

  • Sign up for Twitter and access this amazing set of resources from Jerry Blumengarten (AKA @cybraryman)
  • Check out the weekly or daily Twitter chats based on your interests or passions
  • Attend a free Edcamp to learn from educators in an “unconference” setting that is focused on learning not titles or experts. What makes Edcamps so special is that you are able to control your own learning. As you enter an Edcamp, you will see that there is no Keynote or pre-registered sessions. When the session boards begin to take shape, it is only because people are passionate about the topic. As you attend sessions, you can simply leave or find something else if it didn’t suit your needs. If you want to create your own session, you have the power to do so, and you might be surprised by how many others follow your lead.
  • Keep coming back to Education Week! There are blogs covering any facet of education, regardless of whether you are a teacher, principal or school superintendent.

In the End

We no longer have an excuse for not learning. At our fingertips is a gateway into learning. If you’re trying Twitter or flipping the classroom or your leadership for the first time, or entering into the world of makerspaces; know that it will feel uncomfortable, and it will not look perfect the first time.

One of the greatest parts of Connected Educators Month is that it celebrates all educators, teachers or leaders, who are trying to dive deeper into their own learning in order to inspire students to dive deeper into theirs.

Spike C. Cook is the author of two books from Corwin Press; Connected Leadership: It’s Just a Click Away, and Breaking Out Of Isolation: Becoming a Connected School Leader.

Connect with Spike on Twitter.

The opinions expressed in Peter DeWitt’s Finding Common Ground are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.