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It’s now been three years since I became a connected educator. Back in 2010, my network consisted of the people in my immediate building, a few educators around my district, and anyone on Facebook from a previous district I still kept in contact with. My how the word “network” has changed in education.
Back then I began blogging personally at eFACE Today, focusing in on innovative family engagement efforts both on the part of my school and by educators and parents working around the world to “meet parents where they are.” The blog served as a logical place for me to reflect upon the readings, research and experiences I had during my @PennGSE dissertation process centered on Home & School 2.0. I’m very thankful for those in my global PLN who viewed, commented and passed my thoughts along to others in their own PLN. It’s been a really cool and humbling experience to see folks checking in from all over the globe over the last couple of years.
My PLN has helped me grow in more ways than I can describe. The name Lead learner has been a product of this connectivity, and has reinforced three things for me:
- None of us (yes experts included!) know everything about everything, and we need others near and far to push our thinking and expose differing perspectives everyday.
- Words matter. The word “principal” has become synonymous with power, privilege and boss. I’ve gone to great lengths to remove it from anything relating to my job and to explain that I am also a learner first. It is my most important job to nurture both a home and school “learning community” each day.
- Today’s lead learners need to model life long learner by harnessing transparency, digital citizenship, collaboration and a relentless pursuit of communicating in multiple ways with people all over the world. Our students will be responsible for collaborating with others near and far, and they will learn much of this from us – whether our approach is good or bad.
While the eFACE Today blog will still remain open, I’ve created a new leadership blog entitled “LeadLearner.com” that I’ll use to share my own learning, identify research-based strategies for practitioners, as well as reflect on today’s policy, leadership strategies and the changing landscape of the field of education. Highlighting the tireless efforts of other “Lead Learners” in my PLN will remain a focus of this new blog space by way of mentions and guest posts.
With my doctoral dissertation process now behind me, I’m very much focused on being an even stronger advocate for connected educators around the world, student voice, connected professional development, higher education innovation, unconferences like #EdCamp, EdCampLdr & #ParentCamp, as well as seeing real educational reform and research happen in the area of family and community engagement. My first book, Home & School 2.0, is in its final stages, and will identify innovative low and high tech family engagement efforts on the part of students, parents, teachers and administrators to “meet families where they are.” Tony Sinanis, as some of you might know as @Cantiague_Lead, is set to begin a dissertation study around how connected educators use Twitter for professional development, and I have the great fortune of serving on his dissertation committee. This study promises to uncover much of the benefits and challenges of today’s free virtual professional development opportunities. As my friend and mentor Todd Whitaker said during his #NAESP13 keynote on Saturday, “Twitter is the best free professional development in the world! There is no excuse for every educator to not be on by the end of the day today!”
With that said, there are major upgrades coming to our weekly Wednesday night #PTchat (which we will be sharing out all details at the beginning of August). For the first time, our weekly parent-teacher chat will be tied directly to educational reform efforts happening around family engagement professional development and policy in Washington, D.C.. Stay tuned as there will be opportunities for you and your school to get involved.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my PLN has changed by career and changed my life. Heck I got to go to Finland and meet face to face with educators I never dreamed of meeting. I’m thankful for the trailblazers who got me hooked and took me off admin island.
- Tomorrow’s post will recap #NAESP13’s Social Media Lounge including NAESP presenter podcasts and resources shared during the annual 3 day conference in Baltimore, MD.
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