3 Nondigital Ways to Become a Connected Educator

Provenzano QuoteMany people assume being a connected educator is all about jumping on the computer and staring at a screen for hours on end. Engaging with educators through Twitter, blogs and other forms of social media is one way to connect, but it is not the only way.

Sometimes it helps to use the old-fashioned method of building a professional learning network (PLN) before you start making digital connections. Here are some tips on making analog connections:

1. Look around your building.

Educators often forget they are surrounded by experts every day. It’s easy to assume that there is little to learn from someone who teaches in a different subject area, but the opposite is often true. While subject matter may differ, the methods for reaching students are varied and valuable to all educators.

Start reaching out to other educators in your own building, and talk shop. This can be done at lunch or on a Friday after school over frosty beverages. There are people doing great things all around you, and it is important not to forget about them when looking to become more connected.

CEM logo2. Attend conferences.

There are many conferences throughout the year that cater to educators. Conferences provide a huge opportunity to connect with like-minded educators and initiate meaningful conversations. This can happen in the hallways between sessions or during the sessions themselves.

Presenting at these conferences is another way to make connections. You may have to push outside your comfort zone, but the value it adds to your PLN is worth it.

3. Visit other districts.

Once you’ve made connections within your district and at conferences, I recommend visiting other districts and taking your PLN to a new level. Seeing firsthand how other teachers engage students — and how other schools are managed — can be a powerful catalyst for change within your own school or classroom.

Building relationships with other schools can also help bring together students from different backgrounds to collaborate on projects and create a larger learning community that benefits students as well as educators.

These three tips can help any educator break out of the classroom comfort zone and change their approach to teaching and leadership. Making connections is important because it allows you to encounter diverse opinions and requires you to reflect on your thoughts and beliefs. These are essential for educators who want to grow and perfect their craft.

Take the time this school year to reach out and connect.

Nicholas Provenzano is a technology curriculum specialist and ISTE’s 2013 Outstanding Teacher of the Year. Connect with him on Twitter via @thenerdyteacher, and follow his blog, The Nerdy Teacher.

October is Connected Educator Month. How do you plan to get connected? Share your plans here or via Twitter @ISTEConnects.

2 thoughts on “3 Nondigital Ways to Become a Connected Educator

  1. My thoughts exactly. I recently did a training to a mandatory PD session and I stressed that if tech isn’t your thing or you value face-to-face interaction, there are plenty of ways to be connected. Some other ways to be connected without tech:

    :: edcamps (you probably link to them in your conferences bullet) but I think they’re worth an extra shout out. You don’t just go to an edcamp and listen to a presentation, you collaborate and learn from each other.

    :: meetups – there are tons of informal meetups of educators. Check out meetup.com’s education site: http://education.meetup.com/.

    Hope this inspires some and thanks Nick for the great article!

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