If you write a blog, you have a great record of your thinking: the things that have inspired you, the ideas you have puzzled over, the events you have attended, even the challenges you have faced. I just browsed through my posts from 2014 and although not as numerous as previous years, they tell a story. I seem to have been a bit of professional learning junkie – attended many Teachmeets as well as a couple of formal conferences.
One of my most visited blog posts was You have a class Blog – Now What? I have had the pleasure of working with many teachers helping them with the setting up class blogs and it started to get frustrating that their impact was not as great as I think they might be. I now think that a teacher needs to understand and actively seek the benefits of being a Connected Educator, before or at the very least whilst setting up a blog. So many teachers have said to me that they don’t see the point, no-one reads it and the effort does not translate into any added value for them or their students. The exceptions are those who are creating a network alongside their blogging activities. Whether they be actively engaging their parent community or reaching beyond the school to other classes, they are making a difference and are feeling encouraged to continue.
The concept of collaboration is understood by teachers but when it involves actively pursuing on-line networks, many are yet to take the plunge or even understand the pathway. This is an area I would like to focus my work on in the future. My connections have enriched my career in so many ways that I cannot imagine life without them. I revel in the opportunity to watch a Twitter feed/ Google+ Community, chat at a conference or Teachmeet etc and pick up news or ideas or to ask a question or contribute an answer. Of course, it remains paramount that any of this revolves around relationships. George Couros wrote recently:
If you are a school that does not focus on building relationships, you are on a faster road to irrelevance than one that doesn’t use technology.
In a world where information is easy to access and I can always find better content online than I can in school, the refocus on relationships is more crucial now than ever. Embrace technology; it will provide people opportunities that we could have dreamed of when we were kids. But just remember that people will always be the most important part of the education system.
In conducting a bit of a mental audit on the ways I have seen technology used in my school, I am comfortable that our focus has been on the relationships. At the end of any shared Google document, Tweet, Blog post or Skype call, was a person or a group of people we were actively engaging with. We had clear purpose in our communication – whether it be collaborating on a task, informing parents, seeking information from experts, providing an audience for our young writers. Technology was the enabler for the building and strengthening of the relationships.
George is right “people will always be the most important part” and I would like to thank a small band of my ‘people’ who nominated me for an award this year – I humbly accept it as I said to the teachers I work with I take pride if I have been in any way influential in all the wonderful things they are doing with our students. I draw energy from my association with members of my PLN both at school and beyond and look forward to sharing many more stories in 2015. Now it is time to go to the beach for a bit of rejuvenation!