Friday, June 22, 2012

Take Time To Connect

After teaching for twenty some years I feel confident walking into most classrooms. No matter how many times I do it however, presenting to adults makes me a nervous wreck! The only thing reassuring me about my presentation at the BPS Learning Conference 2012 yesterday was the quality of the material, most of which was generously supplied by Phil Macoun. I helped to facilitate a MoodleMeet with Phil in January, and when asked to present on global collaborative projects by my boss, it seemed natural to revisit the wonderful course Phil had put together.
One of the many resources was a video by Vicki Davis, describing seven principles that can take your classroom global and the current challenges and misconceptions surrounding what it means to globalize your classroom. I’ve watched this video many times and every time I take away a new nugget.
Presenting to strangers yesterday the principle that resonated most with me was the need to take time to connect with others. In fact, the whole reason I was there in the first place was through connections I had made over the course of the last year. Again I owe much thanks to Phil Macoun, who, after a brief meeting at a conference in Vancouver last summer, became my Twitter tutor. Phil responded to every one of my emails about how to find people to follow, hashtags, and chats and in doing so, opened up a whole new world for me. I’m amazed by how much I have learned and how much my teaching has been positively affected by the generous sharing of educators from all around the world. Teachers I can only dream of meeting like Michael Graffin, Miss Noor, Paul Bogush and Vicki Davis herself, by taking the time to answer my questions, by supporting and encouraging and by sharing their wisdom have impacted me and my students in ways they will never know.
Several months ago, Monica Noakes, a teacher from Vancouver contacted me through Twitter and we have since forged a friendship that will I hope, last a long time. Monica was looking to collaborate on a global project and together with our students we created Ingreenious Inventions, a wiki that documents our students growing understanding of the invention process. Working with Monica was an absolute joy. She embodies the qualities that we were trying teach our students in order to be successful: perseverance, flexibility, adaptability, understanding, active listening, respect and trust. She has enriched my personal and professional life immensely and while I will miss our weekly Skype sessions throughout the summer, I am determined to reconnect and continue working with her and her colleague, Natalia Russo, in the fall.
Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Network has been another wonderful way for me to gain a deeper global perspective and next month I am excited to attend the U.S. Forum in Redmond. Being my second time attending I know I can look forward  to learning from my peers from around the country about the wonderful ways that they are integrating technology into the classroom and being provided with the opportunity to make new connections. I am also thrilled to be able to meet up with some of the wonderful people I met last year including Kelli Etheredge who gave me the courage I needed to start this Blog and Lou Zulli who inspires me every day with his wit, wisdom and wealth of experience.
I could go on ad infinitum mentioning the people who have impacted me this year. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have found my new friends. One of my favorite lines from Vicki’s video is, “When you are ripe you rot!” Twenty years of teaching definitely makes me ripe, but by growing my personal learning network and by learning with and from others I’m finding it difficult to find the time to rot. I urge every educator-take time to connect.

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