How well do you remember your very first tweet? Was it original? A retweet? Did you share an article or an idea? Did you connect with other educators?
It just so happens that I remember my first tweet very well, and it was a retweet of an article shared by an esteemed educator and leader with whom I was working at the time–the very same person who encouraged me to get connected via Twitter. I remember well Dr. Jeffery Zoulencouraging me to connect on Twitter since I was already connected in some of the typical ways via email, conferences, listservs, Facebook, etc.
Since becoming more connected via Twitter and through my blog in late fall of 2011, my learning professionally and personally has grown exponentially as I’ve been a giver, a taker, a learner, and a leader focused on not only learning but on building relationships with others from around the country and the world.
Though the authors of What Connected Educators Do Differently don’t know my personal story of becoming a connected educator, I feel as though they described my journey in their book published by Routledge. Jeffery Zoul, Todd Whitaker, and Jimmy Casas created a 134 page resource for educators on every end of the connected spectrum.
The book starts with an introductory chapter which explains what it means to be connected and why it matters. Even if you’re already connected, this chapter provides you more specific background of what to expect throughout the book. I enjoyed the conversational tone and the anecdotal stories, especially those describing scenarios of isolation because there’s no longer reason to feel isolated now that we have so many ways to connect virtually (and in person).
What Connected Educators Do Differently is divided into eight chapters with each chapter being a Key Connector. The eight Key Connectors explain what connected educators do differently and why it matters. You’ll have to read the book yourself or visit the blog by Jimmy Casas to learn about all eight, but I will tell you about one of my favorites.
Key Connector 5: Strive to Be Tomorrow…Today. This one is my favorite because I believe it drives the very reason I blog, the very reason I passionately persist in public education, the very reason I work on re-imagining public education. This chapter is about seeking the power of a positive voice, bringing our best everyday, and striving to make an impact. If you’ve been reading my blog regularly, you’ll know how much I value these ideas. While I was reading the book, I did what other readers often do and took notes in the margin. At one point in this chapter, I wrote “yes! This is why I blog…”
The authors share specific examples of well known change agents such as Scott Mcleod, Jerry Bluemengarten, and Kristen Swanson (Glad they included at least one woman in this section! Though, I wish they had included more). These individuals, described as change agents, are known “risk-takers… people with a consistent and clear purpose, a vision of the footprint they want to leave on the world in which they live.” And, yes. That’s exactly why I started this blog shortly after becoming connected on Twitter.
If you’re not already, you can become connected, too. Pick up a copy of the book and learn not only about the Key Connectors, but enjoy learning about resources and other connected educators. At the end of each chapter, you’ll learn about 5 connected educators to follow, 5 resources to find, and 5 action steps to take. I personally appreciate how the action steps grow more advanced as the book progresses, with the earlier action steps being about creating your PLN and the later action steps including ideas such as modeling risk-taking, using Maker Spaces, or implementing Genius Hour.
As we strive to be our best every day, let’s remember we have one another for support and if we stay positive, we can indeed make an impact. I am determined to use my voice and connectivity to influence change on a greater scale. How about you? Are you committed to being connected and impacting change? I hope so, and I hope you will join me.