October was Connected Educator Month. Started by the U.S. Department of Education in 2012, CEM has gone global and in 2013 reached 14 million educators through twitter alone.
As a college writing teacher and dues-paying member of the National Council of Teaches of English, I was involved this October with CEM, specifically attending (live or remotely; via webcam or twitter) events connected to CEM and curating the conversations via twitter, blogs, Storify, or through other digital platforms.
As we head into the spring semester, I find myself reflecting on a webinar I attended held live in Norway. Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, an educational consultant based in Brazil, provided the keynote address titled “The Globally Connected Educator.” In her presentation, she argued that if the desired outcome is globally connected students, teachers need to be connected globally connected first. This connection happens when teachers communicate, collaborate, and connect with experts and peers from around the world.
We work at a university which prides itself on establishing global connections. We have an active Center for Global Engagement. We have a strong relationship with Liaocheng University in China, as well as the Summer Language Institute’s inclusion of Chinese and Korean languages.
But here at the beginning of a new semester, I encourage us to consider individually and collectively how we can remain connected to educators in generalm, as well as our disciplines — and even subdisciplines. Connecting and remaining connected to our field improves the quality of instruction we offer our students.
Tolisano pushes digital connections via contributing to twitter conversations and webinars. Yet, these connections do not have to be reserved for the technologically savvy.
We connect through attending local, regional, and national conferences, sitting in on sessions or meeting people in the hallways (that is where the “real” conference happens, I believe, and it is blogged about here).
We connect through browsing recent journals in our field, scanning the table of contents and remembering author names and what she, he, they wrote about.
We connect through bringing in guest-speakers, and by being aware of who the president is of our leading professional organization.
As Tolisano said, our students need a connected teacher.
This connection does not have to occur during the weekly #whatisschool twitter chat, though it certainly could.
But this connection needs to happen for the betterment of our own professional development, but more importantly, for the betterment of our students.