Connect with Other Teachers!

Connecting with other educators is probably the best way to grow yourself as an educator.  I’m not just talking about meeting with other educators, but connecting with them.  When we are in a staff meeting or enrolled in a class or workshop, we are usually just meeting.  When we sit around a table and discuss an agenda, we are usually just meeting.  However, connecting has a deeper value to us.  Think about the last time you attended professional development where the others there smiled when you entered the room or the last time you had a casual, yet intriguing conversation with a fellow educator?

Where do you connect?

I connect online through Twitter.  My PLN is the best!  They are always there, always supportive and always open to ideas and conversations.  We connect in a professional, yet personal way.  The communities that are being built there are fantastic.  For a listing of all the chats and, in essence, the people you can connect with, visit CybraryMan’s website!  My favorites to join are #4thchat and #ntchat.

This August 9th, I will be co-moderating a special chat event with @creativityassoc and @aep_arts.  Join us for at 1:00 pm and again at 6:00 pm EST as we try to define arts integration in 25 words or less.  I’m looking forward to some great connections and conversation among like-minded professionals!

I connect in person.  One of my favorite ways to connect with other teachers is in casual, personal interactions.  AKA – hanging out!  I love it when my team of teachers decide to go out to lunch on a district PD day.  Sometimes we even make a date to do dinner and drinks.  Human connections – that’s what it’s all about.  And that makes working together all the more comfortable and natural.

Put two or more teachers together and you have an unending conversation about a myriad of topics.  Just this morning, I was chatting it up with a principal who also lives in my town as we hung out on the sidelines of our sons’ flag football camp.  I always enjoy having real conversations with other educators!  I’m not talking about “complaint sessions” (or whatever you may call them ;-) ), but real chatter about what it is we do.

I connect in arts-based professional development.  In recent years, as my professional development has become more and more infused in the arts, I’ve noticed a great change in how I interact with the other teachers there.  In courses I’ve taken and those I have given, there seems to be a much deeper level of connectivity.  I feel this is true for two reasons.

1. Arts infused PD (I guess you could call them arts-integration for the teachers) is often hands-on.  When students, in this case the teachers are the students, get their hands dirty in arts-based activities, they naturally start to develop a deeper connection with one another.

2. We share a common bond in knowing the power of the arts.  When you have had an experience yourself with how the arts have helped you develop as a person, you know the great potential it can have with your students.  In great arts infused PD, teachers are encouraged to share those stories.  I’ve found that when teachers share those moments when the arts have touch their lives (and in a couple cases in how the arts have been absent from them), people come closer together.

I am fortunate to be working in some great arts infused PD this summer and I invite you to come along as well!

This following Tuesday, July 31st, I will be attending and presenting at the Connectivity Virtual Arts Integration Conference at www.educationcloset.com.  There will be webinars all day in arts integration topics including drama, music and literacy, blogging and the how-to’s of arts int.  The host, Susan Riley, has done a fantastic job of not only organizing and offering this conference, but of creating a community among those who will be in attendance.  We are all part of a Connectivity ning site where we can learn about each other, message each other and connect.  (It’s like a mini Facebook for teachers who are invested in arts education and integration.)

The PD I am most looking forward to this summer is the Teacher Art Retreat!  This August 13-15, teachers will come together to create art, make music, share ideas and connect in so many ways.  Last year’s retreat was amazing!  We worked together to create poetry, we worked through the creative process as we designed and built our own box books, we drummed like crazy and we even laughed our way through some fun theatre games.  We worked together and discussed best arts integration practices.  And the best part about it was the connections we made.

Want to join us?  (I know you do!)  Click the banner for all the information!

When we throw ourselves into situations where we are truly connecting with other professionals, we come out better teachers!  Whether that be online or in person, we need that.

How do you connect??

~EMP

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Article by Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth Peterson has devoted her life to education and to reaching out to other teachers who want to remain inspired. Mrs. Peterson teaches fourth grade in Amesbury, Massachusetts and is the host of www.theinspiredclassroom.com. She holds an M.Ed. in Education, “Arts and Learning” and is currently enrolled in a C.A.G.S. program through Plymouth State University with a focus in “Arts Leadership and Learning.” Elizabeth is author of Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that includes a method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own teaching. She teaches workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and leads an arts integration PLC (PLaiC). Mrs. Peterson believes there is a love of active, integrated learning in all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.
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3 Comments

  1. Holly Gray says:

    Elizabeth,
    You have really stoked some serious thinking and brought some very positive ideas. I was thinking about “Arts Infused PD” as a way of bridging or correcting the opinion of arts integration as an “add on” vs. a purpose in education. I have been saying for years that my district is in desperate need of PD for not only the arts educators, but more importantly, an offering to bring ALL educators together to experience and understand the “Power” of the arts as you have stated it. I think the fear that we talk about and comfort level in other core curriculum educators is only reinforced when they are not given the opportunity to collaborate. It is so much easier for district administrators who have little or no arts influence in their lives to simply avoid integration. Part of my thinking toward a step toward a solution to the ignorance in arts integration is to first teach those who are in charge. They need to be trained in all aspects of education and the value of STEAM vs STEM. If they are given courses at that CAGS or Doctoral level where they must explore implementation, perhaps it could change the face of education.
    Secondly, like kids, we are products of our environments. Over time, the norm is set and until the cycle is broken at the root level, growth cannot occur. I personally love to play, but too often get caught up in the minutiae of daily tasks and requirements. Playing together as educators brings new light and refreshment. How can we begin to create more PD that is directed toward collaboration with art forms being integrated in our own personal interaction. I am starving for this. I would love to do drumming with our faculty, as much as they would balk and run! I would love to have them create a lesson with our Fine Arts teachers leading one or two PD sessions per year. Inclusion is not relegated to our students alone.

    Just saying. Thanks for your ideas!!

    • I can tell you are craving this kind of time for your colleagues! I know the feeling. :) If I can ever be any help, please let me know. I’ve done some workshops for schools (that were voluntary, but well attended) where we explore some art forms in creative and non-threatening ways. And there was success. By success, I mean smiles, lots of smiles. It’s only when teachers have that experience themselves (like you said) that they begin to understand WHY their students need it too!

      • Holly Gray says:

        EXACTLY! Let’s talk about this. I think I could get my admin on board with one. Nothing ventured…. at some point, it has to stick!
        : )

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