Learning is about making connections. School is about relationships.1 Relationships require making connections.
Building relationships has always required making connections and people have long been a social species.2 As the world of connected educators moves beyond Connected Education month, I would like to focus your attention on the idea that educators have long had the opportunity to join together and learn from each other. However, now we are living in a society that requires this from us. I, and many others, take great joy in the fact that the technology now exists to help us make many new and diverse connections in faster and easier ways. 3
At the heart of the relationships we need to develop are the relationships we cultivate with our students. They are the reason we got into, and remain in, education. Cultivating these relationships allow our student to learn on a deeper level. However, if we are not connecting with other educators beyond our classroom, we are not exposing our students to the best possible learning. We do not know everything, and if we are going to facilitate the education our students receive properly, we must acknowledge this. I make this arguement because if we do not foster our connections, we do not continue learning ourselves, and sadly begin to stagnate.
Making connections starts with the conversations we have in our own buildings. We need to go to the classroom next door and down the hall. We need to learn from not only other educators but other students as well. The truth is, many times we are not aware of what we do not know. If we do not expose ourselves to new experiences we will never reach our full collaborative potential and never create the best educational experiences for our students.
These local connections are just the beginning. When we limit our community, there is the chance that we warp each other’s visions. I am fortunate to have grown my Professional Learning Network not only across the country but internationally as well. Thishas allowed me to see new perspectives and new ideas that directly benefit my students. This is the real reason we must connect across borders–both literal and figurative. Our students deserve no less.
One of my new favorite quotes, courtesy of George Couros (@gcouros), is “The smartest person in the room is the room.” We are quickly moving to the point that our room is truly global, however, we all need to remember that in order to learn we need to listen.
In order to build our success we must tear down the walls of our own making.
1This being a blog, I’ll spare you the research, but if you’re interested in some further reading, here is a piece to check out:
Cummins, J. (2000). Language, power, and pedagogy: Bilingual children in the crossfire. Clevdon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
2 Check out E.O. Wilson’s work
3 For example, see Twitter chats #edchat Tuesdays at 12 and 7 pm EST; #satchat Saturdays at 7:30 and 10:30 am; or #edtechchat Mondays at 8 pm EST.
Alternatively check out these chats’ respective archives:
Also, there are active educator communities on Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, and even email listservs from professional orginizations. The kist goes on…