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Monday, January 23, 2012

Becoming a more connected educator

The following question was posed at 49:23 from the recording Steve Hargadon: Live Interview Tuesday, January 17th - Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach on "The Connected Educator".



Question: How do you know if you are a connected educator?


Reply: ...starting to connect with other people, sharing ideas, put the students first, open-minded kind of people who enjoy learning, who get excited about inquiry, want relationships, self-directed, drawn towards collaboration, together we are more than we are as individuals, enjoy the negotiation of meaning and ideas with other people, 



I would response differently to this question.


It's not about knowing if you are connected or not, because we are all connected.  I'll rephrase a bit: You know the benefit of becoming connected if you are looking at relationships with other people; conceptualizations, educational philosophy, ideologies, theories, ideas, and other cognitive aspects; and materials used to interact with others (i.e., technologies, artifacts, etc.) in order to form the meta-cognitive insight into the affect others have on your own behavior and beliefs as well as the affect you have on others.  It's not always putting others first.  It's about realizing that helping others can have a personal benefit, which is a slightly different, yet important distinction.  It's not about wanting relationships just for the sake of it, but rather recognizing the relationships that promote learning.  A "connected" educator is drawn to making connections, not necessarily just collaborating or cooperating with others.  And although together we are more than we are as individuals, that's not the motive for becoming "connected".  It's more local than that.  It's more at the personal level and those boundary nodes that link directly back to the individual.  In a connected world, there is no "negotiation of meaning".  Businesses negotiate with each other because that's how the world works, so to speak.  Learners and teachers negotiate because there is a curriculum.  Basketball teams negotiate in order to win games.  And yes, we can learn through negotiation.  But when it comes to (professional) learning - which in education means educators who interact with whomever they choose, whenever and wherever they choose, there is no (or at least less) negotiation, only the growing and pruning of connections that aid some future benefit (i.e., connecting ideas, people, and artifacts as dynamic assemblages).  Meaning is also a sticky word.  I'd rather say associations or patterns that people recognize that stimulate inferences.  


When it comes to learning, it's not about the practice or program, but rather it's about the person.  As an educator, I put myself first when it comes to my own professional learning.  


So, I'll restate the question: How to you become a more connected educator in ways that benefit your own professional learning?