After reading the book ‘What Connected Educators Do Differently?” by Whitaker, Zoul, and Casas, I started to reflect up the contents of the book and how it has reflected my teaching career to date. On one the main reasons I got into education is that there is always a chance to learn, grow, and get better. I feel there is really no limit to improving yourself as a lead learner in our esteemed profession. I reflect quite a bit on the quote I once heard and use often … “Did you have a 30 year teaching career of 30 one year teaching career?” The tools and opportunities that technology has provided educators to get better not only for themselves but ultimately for those we serve are exciting, expansive, and challenging. There are so many sayings and research into the power of ‘we’ and being ‘connected’. I feel educators owe it to our profession and the present/future of our youth to harness the power of connectivity.
I have been active in the area of using technology in my craft basically since access to the internet and other tools have been accessible to us. I have recognized the opportunities and obstacles for a long time and continue to examine how to best use technology as a way to improve instructional, professional, and personal growth. The reason I enjoy this pursuit so much is because it has provided me with so many opportunities to connect and get better. I enjoy taking risks and failing forward. There is always room to get better and I feel the examining how technology, pedagogy, and content (TPACK) can work together and bring forth empowering, engaging, and exciting learning opportunities like never before.
Being connected is a vital part of growing personally and professionally. We cannot grow if all we do is talk to ourselves or just communicate with those who share the same outlooks and are fine with the status quo. I have had many great face to face interactions with a variety of educators and non-educators that have challenged me and affirmed the desire to innovate and get better. Face to face interactions are still the most important way to communicate, but are not as readily available and also limited to time and location. This is where being a connected educator on social media (especially Twitter for me) shines. I have grown an amazing Professional and Personal Learning Network. I have also benefited from reaching out, sharing, and even just ‘lurking’ through this medium. Using Twitter had become a great source of professional development (it took me a bit to get ‘hooked’ but once I did it’s been a fantastic source of knowledge, advice, and reflection), a chance to share success, and a look for comfort and/or solutions to problems that arise. The sense of community is real and meaningful relationships have formed as a result of being connected. I try to model the importance of being connected and a not only a contributing digital citizen, but citizen in general as the lines between the types of citizenship are transparent.
I look forward to continuing the journey of being connect as it has made my career more meaningful, evolved, challenging, and rewarding. I have learned and shared much, but it still feels like there is so much more. I will continue to advocate the importance of being connected and creating a growing one’s professional network both on and offline. Being connected has made my career feel new, refreshing, and dynamic … not wash, rinse, repeat.
Dean Vendramin. Educator for over 20 years. Currently Education Leader for Math/Science at Archbishop M.C. O'Neill Catholic High School. Have a passion for all things in education with emphasis on technology integration, assessment, professional development, and 21 Century Education. Posts are articles he has written for the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation monthly newsletter The Bulletin, Saskatchewan Math Teachers' Society The Variable, blog requests from memberships he is a part of, and his own thoughts.