The second key connector in our book study discusses personal learning: the how, where, and when. I have loved reading this book as a veteran of Twitter as it reminds me of all the great reasons I love Twitter as a professional resource. Thank you, guys!
As a co-founder of two twitter chats, I can say with absolute assurance that connected educators are ready to learn anytime, anywhere. I've moderated and greeted chats from volleyball games, passenger seat of the car, and once during freshman orientation (which I did with the utmost respect and discretion). I believe in the power of connecting and sharing that much..... There is a valuable nugget of information for everyone who jumps into a Twitter chat.
Connected educators are also willing to learn on Saturdays and at 3 am because we LOVE learning and growing. As the authors share, professional learning which takes place outside the traditional day, is the most powerful. When we are able to be in the mindset to receive great information, it sticks with us and has a lasting effect. That makes finding some time for reading, reflecting, and sharing to take place so critical. It's the process of refilling the well and finding some humor in what we do. Here are a few educators I turn to for inspiration and great ideas.
Love The Daring Librarian, I hope to be as whackadoodle as she is when I Grow Up. And she's a middle school librarian.
Buffy Hamilton - the first librarian I followed on Twitter and love keeping up w/ her libraries, students, puppies, and best practices.
My partner in crime, Lynn Kleinmeyer, keeps me on my toes, pushes me to be better and want more for my students, and can kind of read my mind.
The FMS Library Instagram account - celebrating our students who inspire me everyday.
As a librarian in two buildings, I am my own department, and it is very easy to isolate myself within my own little world. Having a connected network helps me to stay inspired and knowledgeable about issues, trends, new books, and great activities for me to share with my students. "So stealing that idea" is one of my mottos. And please steal from me when I share things, as well.
The invitation from Ann Feldmann to join this book study came at just the right time. Here are some numbers for you. I am surrounded by 1300 students in 2 buildings each day. This is my 5th year as a school librarian, my 4th year as a #nebedchat co-founder, and 1st year as a #mwlibchat (Midwest Librarian Chat) co-founder, and 1st year as a UNO adjunct instructor. I read 100 books each year as part of the @goodreads challenge. And....I am the 1st to talk about being connected and inspired, but I am the LAST person to follow my own advice. The result is the feeling of educator isolation shared in "What Connected Educators Do Differently."
I think I fall into the "connected" category, but my take on Chapter 1 is perhaps more about the maintenance of your P2LN. The feeling we've all experienced after a great conference, workshop or keynote extends to the excitement after a whirlwind chat with educators and librarians. The key is feeding and caring for that excitement and channeling it into what we do everyday so it can grow, connect, and inspire others.
We face some ginormous challenges in education. Some of our kids have whole lives outside of our buildings, and what goes on in those buildings, for those students, is low on the list. Combine that with budgets, resources, statistics and there are some pretty big obstacles to add to the process of teaching and learning. With so many big things, where do we even start?
After five years as a school librarian, one thing hasn't changed. It's all about the kids, and it's all about connections. So although my issues have changed, grown, shrunk, and evolved, the need to stay focused on connections with my students and my personal and professional network has not. So my blogging focus during the book study will be to record the care and feeding of my P2LN, and hopefully, inspire anyone else out there.
Have you ever experienced synchronicity? It's that bizarre feeling that things have just spun out of your control and are about to come together in an amazing way? Chatting with the dynamic Lynn Kleinmeyer (@THLibrariZen) via Twitter about scarves, coffee, and library shenanigans brought about my latest brush with synchronicity.
Shortly before NETA15, Lynn sent me a message asking my thoughts on a librarian chat...... and my response was, "Me too!" And then came the Instagram post about Miss Suzy, and then the Canva discussion, and then, well, we pretty much took over the Social Butterfly Lounge at NETA15. We scribbled on the white boards, spun in the chairs, and hugged each other's friends. And we made plans for the launch of the Midwest Teacher Librarian Twitter chat. (Did I mention, we went totally fangirl meeting Shannon Miller (@shannonmmiller)? - we did that, too)
As librarians, we often function in a place of professional awkwardness. We are never alone, yet we are alone. Our libraries are filled with students, researchers, makers, readers, teachers, learners, and we are elbowing our way into the hearts and classrooms of the
teachers in our buildings. We become the fix-it people, leaders, and problem solvers. We wear a lot of hats and have our hands in a lot of cookie jars. It's pretty easy to get overwhelmed and often difficult to find another educator who travels our road.
Twitter has been the resource for inspiration since I became a librarian. The rockstars I have followed for years are the people I turn to for ideas, guidance, and laughter. Many of those whom I met have become my closest friends in "real life." I was honored to be a part of the epic phenomena #nebedchat which has brought together many a great mind over the last several years, and I am excited to partner w/ Lynn as we launch a chat for teacher librarians. Join us Wednesday evening (5/13/15) @ 7:30pm as we kick off our chat series with a half hour discussion on Summer Reading.
I remember the first microwave my family had. It was a Christmas present for my mom, and cost like $9000. I also remember I was the first person to blow up a bowl of eggs in the new microwave. But that's a whole other blog post. I also remember the first iPad I ever had. My husband bought it for me to use with my students and I started to cry at the check out at Nebraska Furniture Mart. I was so grateful and excited to have an iPad - that was 2012.
Three years and nine gazillion apps later, I hope we sometimes consider the power of the gadget we hold in our hands. It's handy for email, Twitter, Instagram, web browsing. But is that all it's used for? Better yet, is that all our students use it for? Checking email, grades, skills practice, web surfing? At some point, it's time to move past consuming information and start creating knowledge. You don't use the microwave just to warm up leftovers?
Microwaves are pretty great gadgets. They make popcorn in little bags, brown hamburger, defrost stuff, melt butter. All pretty handy tasks, but generally done independently of each other - one at a time. Let's consider the gadget found below the microwave.... the stove. Now a stove will cook soup, roasts, casseroles, cookies, cakes, as well as all the things a microwave can do (kind of). A stove helps us to create amazing feats of culinary skill multiplied by the number of burners and a possible double oven.
iPads have the potential to be ovens. They can do all the communication and social media stuff, but they can also be the vehicle to creating some pretty amazing artifacts such as movies, photos, artwork. In fact through the process of app smashing, we are only limited by the amount of memory on the iPad and the iTunes budget. We can drop a string of videos into iMovie, add enhanced images, voice overs, and transitions and come of with a pretty spiffy movie about just about anything.....and so could our students. Using a digital poster app, students can link to researched resources, embed videos and images, as well as text to demonstrate knowledge of any concept or better yet, create a study resource for next year's students.
I spend a good deal of time twisting arms, begging, and promising my first born to teachers in order to get them to try new resources through technology integration. My next bout of arm twisting is about to begin. We are ready to move past using iPads as devices to practice skills and surf the web. We are ready to move toward the concept of supporting students in creating artifacts from a foundation of core content. We are ready to leave the safety of the microwave and leftovers for the wonders of six burners and convection cooking. Grab your spoons!