I’ve been fortunate to connect with many educators from my state whether through universities, school districts, or business. Over the last year, I’ve had the distinct privilege of connecting with educators around the globe who share a passion for learning, teaching, and leading.
You may wonder why connect with educators? How do I connect with others? Where should I start? Those are the questions I had, and here’s what I’ve learned.
You will find in this post:
- What connected educators have that disconnected educators don’t.
- Where to start connecting with passionate educators.
The Power of a Connection
Relationships. These are the foundation of education.
It was Alfred North Whitehead who said inert knowledge is nothing more than death itself. It’s the relationships that make learning come alive. It’s the connections with others that add value to ourselves and those we serve.
A connected educator will gain the opportunity to:
- Be affirmed in innovative thinking.
- Be challenged by innovative thinkers.
- Find encouragement by others of like-mind.
- Find fresh insights by others in different settings.
- Engage in the most current conversations in our field.
- Listen to the experiences of others.
- Find beauty in the humor and wit of others.
- Appreciate the vast diversity within our profession.
Where to Start Your Connection
There are so many places and ways to connect, it’s almost like being frozen at the menu in The Cheesecake Factory – choice overload! Here are a few of my favorite ways to connect, maybe you’ll find two or three that fit you.
Twitter is excellent for educators of any interest. Teachers in different states chat about their subject areas. Principals and superintendents chat about their district and leadership ideas.
Search for a hashtag and find when they hold their chats. Chats are in a question-answer format. Moderators pose questions under a unique hashtag and we respond with answers. Even better, we engage in chats and really get to know others’ experiences, challenges, and creative ideas.
Here are some Twitter chats that I recommend:
- #822Chat – 8 minutes, 2 questions, 2 days per week. This great chat is about a quick connection, a small discussion, and a creative network of school leaders.
- #leadupchat – a one-hour chat held on Saturday mornings for all things related to educational leadership.
- #leadupteach – a chat for innovative teachers who lead the profession.
- #tlap – Have you read the book Teach Like a Pirate? This chat is from the authors, and it’s all about innovative solutions to student learning.
- #txeduchat – a Sunday night chat that is mostly comprised of Texas educators, but also hosts many Southwest educators.
- #satchatWC – a Saturday, late morning chat mostly comprised of west coast educators.
- Here are some ongoing hashtags that produce many great articles, quotes, and blogs:
- Wide variety of views
- Professional and positive tone
- Easy side conversations or private messages
- Completely public conversation
- Length of time
Facebook groups are growing in popularity with educators. Teacher groups, school groups, and leadership groups are places for on-the-spot problem-solving and collaboration.
There are groups for general discussion such as Houston Area Teachers or NCTE. And there are specific, smaller groups for details niche topics such as 3rd-grade math in Texas or new assistant principals.
After joining a group or two, you will be able to search previous conversations. Or just read your feed and jump into current conversations.
Here are few tips for group etiquette:
- Avoid spamming a product or service. People, real people, are here for discussion, not advertising.
- If you don’t want to contribute just yet, you don’t have to. You can receive notifications on a discussion by simply commenting “following”. Everyone knows what it means – it’s cool.
- Like, love, or emoticon others’ comments. It’s the Facebook form of active listening.
- Ask questions. You’ll find no one really argues in educational Facebook groups. But we ask questions, listen, and respect points of view.
- Follow the pages of other educators who you respect and enjoy connecting with.
- Easy notifications
- Expand your Facebook network
- Some members have a negative tone
Private Professional Networks
So you have Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn as the primary social networks where educators connect. But there are also private networks.
A private network is not on a social media platform but is still accessed online with your phone or computer.
Here are three private networks:
- 822Tribe – A network that extends the #822chat by participating in blog crawls. What is a blog crawl?
- The Go! Community – A growing network of school leaders who engage in book studies, weekly reflections, leadership coaching, and help each other out.
- Principal Tribe – The network for principals who create. Principal Tribe will walk you through creating, editing, and publishing your school leadership content.
Your Turn to Connect
I hope you found some useful nuggets in this post. Now it’s your turn. Feel free to comment below…
Where do you like to connect with educators?
What do you gain from your connections?
Where are you finding the richest conversations?
If you’re new to online professional learning networks, feel free to connect with me on Twitter @mafost. Let me know you found me on the blog, and I’ll follow you back.
Thanks for reading.