I have just read another Blogpost about being connected. Not just about being connected online, but being connected to other teachers. Through Facebook, twitter, vln and Google groups. I have been teaching now for 10 years and without the collaboration from other teachers I don't think I would be. 10 years ago there were blogs but they were difficult to use. Instead when I did my teachers practice I emailed my father each day about what I had observed, tried in the classroom and reflected back on my day and teaching. I still remember the comment back from my professional studies teacher about my reflections. From there when I started my first year I had a Linux box sitting at home running a web server that I created a MySQL/pho install that I would update with my thoughts.
Today I still reflect on my practice, professional development. In 2007 I was introduced to twitter which allowed me access to industry, teachers and other people. Through these I have found myself being able to ask questions and get responses that have added to. Me as a teacher and also provided contact with unions. Having a teacher ask a question and know who to get the immediate response from has been a great way to solve issues within the workplace, yes it was done through direct messages.
Collaboration through Google groups. I belong to three great groups, techies, mle reference group and the digital technologies teachers association. In the early days of the mle reference group it was a direct connection to the ministry, so much information, being able to ask questions, get feedback, introduced to other teachers and technicians. The added value I had from this group. )no longer does it have this pass through of information) Allowed me to become the ict innovator within the school. Myportfolio, single sign on, Google apps for education and the early days of live@edu. It gave me access to the right people at the right time for me, but the school was not ready for it, it needed the infrastructure, faster connections and pld.
The association listserve has been a way for teachers to talk about unit standards in the beginning, it started change, from computing unit standards, to information management standards and the issues of generic technology. It brought a massive number of teachers together, although sometimes it went bad with people either getting angry that they were wrong or that people did not have the same ideas on where computing/ict needed to go. Nzist was introduced to me when I was at teachers college, it provided me a way to see where things were at, what was working within schools and what wasn't. It also allowed me to feel part of a community, a community that would support me through my first few years. Since then I have been posting and sharing, and collaborating with the new association listserve since. I have now posted over 700 entries into the new listserve, be it articles, ideas, professional development or what is happening within schools. It has been amazing how many people have emailed back saying thank you, these people have got to a point where they needed help and within minutes they had an answer and were able to carry on. Without this group I do not be live we would be where we are currently. It has allows people to talk about the new standards, what was wrong with the draft standards, as well as what is wrong with the current standards. It has allowed for friendships to be made.
Through going to a education event I wrote a Blogpost about the event and the lack of education and technology that was part of it, the next day I had a comment asking to contact the venue and help assist with the educational reference group to help plan the next couple of years development. It also allowed me to go to a couple of other events where I stood up to explain that education needed to have a space and that it had been left out of the models that were being presented to the community. Yet another reason to be connected.
One would say that ulearn would be a way to get connected, I have been to three ulearns and many more through online environments, one year I think I was one of the top 15 twitters at the event, and I wasn't even there. Being connected is a part of my teaching practice, through pd at school I am online looking for articles or tweeting the personal learning network I have on some of the ideas that I am getting so they can be involved.
It also moves into my area outside of teaching as well. Through meetups in Auckland as well as being part of a brand that I like, we have been able to communicate directly with customers, inform them of stock levels, create a hype and make them feel part of the experience. Being connected is a way of my life.
Being connected has had a profound effect on what I do in the classroom and how I do it.
How do others in other subjects areas without groups or communities develop their understanding of the curriculum, assessments and ideas?