Wednesday, October 16, 2013

EdCamp Central Nebraska

Another wonderful day of FREE PD and networking has taken place.  EdCamp Central Nebraska took place at Grand Island High School this past Saturday.  About 50 people were in attendance for this very informative and fun day.  The Huskers game was followed on twitter using #Huskers.  It was nice to see a couple of other ESU7 teachers and even a student in attendance.  Craig Badura (@mrbadura) and Heather Callihan (@callihan) did a wonderful job planning this event.

The first part of the morning was spent planning the sessions.   If you wanted to present, you could, if not, you could participate.  One of the best parts of an EdCamp is the sessions are planned that morning.  Another one of the best parts, if you don’t like the session that you are in, get up and go to another one.  

I feel that the best sessions to attend are the ones that discussions happen in.  For example,  I led a session on “Being a Connected Educator”.  I started the session by saying what I though a connected educator was and then opened the floor up for more discussion.  As it turns out, there was one person in that session that wasn’t on Twitter.  He wasn’t sure it was for him, but from the discussion and asking questions he signed up later in the day.  The sharing of how, why and all the benefits we see from it convinced him to give it a try.  I don’t know that would have happened in a “sit-and-get” session.

Another great part of the day was being able to connect with other EdCamps going on the same day.  EdCamp Colorado, EdCamp Minneapolis-St. Paul, and EdCamp Dallas were all joined at some point with a Google Hangout.  (Side note: another great way to be a connected educator.)  

The networking before sessions started, during the sessions, during breaks, at lunch, and after session had finished is almost as good, if not better than the sessions themselves. (Another side note: Don’t do sit-down on a Husker game day at BW3’s or get lost on the way back to the EdCamp. Sorry those that were riding with me and @edcampcrane.)

I will keep going to as many EdCamps as I can (and my wife will let me) because it is such a valuable learning day.  Not just for the content, but as I have stated before, the networking.  So, if I am going to an EdCamp and you are going through Columbus or on the way: I will drive!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Being a Connected Educator

October is “Connected Educator Month”, so I have decided to reflect on how I am a “Connected Educator”.  What does it means to be a connected educator?  To me a connected educator is someone who is part of a BROAD PLN.  By broad, I mean more than their own district or school building.  Just because you have a group of colleagues that you can talk with in your district or school when you want doesn’t mean you are connected.  Broad to me means having connections across the state, country, even world.  Also, you need to be connecting more than a monthly staff meeting when the entire building or district gets together.  Being connected is not just a one shot; I did it, and move on.  It needs to be consistent over time.  For me that is every day (several times a day).   One way or another, I make sure to stay connected in some form or fashion.

What tools should one use to be a connected educator?  There are many tools that one can use.  I am an avid user of Twitter, a source that I use on a daily, if not hourly, basis.  I have been told that I have a Twitter problem and need help.  (As Uncle Si would say, “Na”.)  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t get at least five ideas, articles, useful tidbits, or stories off of Twitter.

I also use Google+ as another source of information and a way to stay “connected”.  I like to call it Skype, Twitter, and Facebook on steroids.  Between the news feed, communities, and Hangouts you can stay connected with many people at once.  I use Hangouts to stay connected with colleagues from around the state and country.  I have learned so much from them and appreciate being included in an awesome 3rd Thursday PLN hangout.  I have also used Hangouts to plan a proposal for conference sessions.  It makes it more “personal” to be able to talk to someone “face-to-face” while working.

As teachers and administrators, we need to be connected to those that will help us grow.  If you aren’t a “Connected Educator” I highly suggest that you become one.  Start small and work your way up.  Following several people on Twitter, or “lurk” on a few hashtags is a great start.  One way or another, GET CONNECTED!!!!

Hashtags to follow (“lurk”):
#ce13 – For Connected Educators
#cem12 – For Connected Educators Month

From these hashtags, you will find MANY wonderful educators to follow (and most will follow you back).