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Does a Teacher Need to be Connected to be Great?

Thanks to +Pernille Ripp for putting words to a question that had been brewing in my mind for roughly the past year. It was about a year ago that I decided to make a concerted effort to strengthening my PLN. Fresh off of feeling the buzz from connecting and learning with others, I tried to persuade some of my favorite colleagues to join me in the waters of the world-wide classroom. On came the familiar excuses that included thoughts of fear, apprehension, apathy, and the ever-present, lack of time.

Pernille Ripp's post, "Do you have to be connected to be a great teacher?" clearly and concisely raises an interesting question. I especially appreciate the thoughtful string of comments that follow her post. In speaking with several of my tech savvy, connected colleagues, their responses were very similar to the comments found at the end of Ripp's post, with some passionate arguments being voiced on both sides of the fence.



It is my opinion, and I am admittedly biased on this, in order for a teacher to be considered great, he or she should be solidly connected to a functional, enriching PLN. The Personal Learning Network should include the following support layers; professional learning teams or communities, social media circles, a blogging platform, a system for information curating and sharing, and ultimately a community of practice. +Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach (PLP Network)

Great teachers strive to continually improve and keep current with best practice. Great teachers are resourceful in terms of finding and sharing information. Great teachers make time for learning and "sharpening their saws". Great teachers find ways to connect with students to keep them engaged and inspired to learn. Great teachers understand that a few minutes of daily professional development goes a long way. Great teachers model dispositions of learning for their students. +Will Richardson

Are there great teachers who are not connected? Of course there are, but it's the world's loss that these great educators can't, or won't, share the knowledge, practice, and experience that makes them great. If you agree, then it is my hope that connected learners will find ways to persuade the great, but disconnected educators to get on the dance floor. @tomwhitby (Educator's PLN)

Here are Pernille's thought-provoking closing questions: Where do those that do not have a PLN get theirs? I know I cannot convince them of the power of dedicating time to connecting, sharing, reflecting in a an open forum until they deem it important enough to dedicate their time. And that is an entirely different mindset to cultivate, so how do we do that?

What do you think? Do you agree that a teacher needs to be connected in order to be considered great? If so, how do we convince disconnected educators to engage and contribute to a PLN?

References and Related Reading


Connected Teachers are Great - Here's Why - TED-Ed Lesson Featuring a Google Hangout
(Steven Anderson, Tom Murray, Tom Whitby, Shelly Terrell, Angela Maiers, Rich Kiker )

Developing a Mindset to Move from Good to Great - Cool Cat Teacher Blog (Vicki Davis)

Five Tips for New Teachers to Become Connected Educators -  +Edutopia

21st Century Collaborative - The Connected Educator+Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach


photo credit: paul bica via photopin cc

Comments

Brian Keating said…
I absolutely agree! I went to school for education and taught high school English a number of years ago, but I was very green and ultimately ended up leaving the profession!

Now, I work full-time in the technology industry, specifically facilitating webinars. I see a lot of connections between collaborative technologies such as webinars and social media and how students get inspired to grow and become life-long learners. As I consider when and how to return to education, I am excited to bring everything I've learned about technology and social tools back to the profession.

In regards to your point about inspiring educators to get and stay connected, I think that there are no easy answers and that it is an investment and getting more educators to share their wealth of knowledge with the world through social channels takes a passionate appeal to show teachers that these tools are valid, important and worthwhile, and ultimately potentially transformational and game changers. I've participated in over a decade of leadership training and personal development and while I've learned a lot of great concepts and ideas that have changed my life, nothing is more valuable, in my humble opinion, than getting motivated to do the hard work that will ultimately make the biggest difference. What we need are more tireless advocates and evangelists for social channels and the power of technology in the classroom, and your blogpost points to this, so thank you for writing it and referencing many other valuable resources!
Robert Schuetz said…
Thank you Brian for your thorough and thoughtful comments. I appreciate that you shared your experience and your perspective regarding connected learning. While greatness is subjective, like you, I am thoroughly convinced that education will attain greater relevance and authenticity through web-supported relationships and connections.

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