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.
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??