Saturday, 17 October 2015

Guest Post: @nlouwrens #EdBlogNZ

Connecting as an educator

Back in 2005 when I started teaching I had some awesome colleagues who I could connect with, ask questions of and learn from. They were great and I learnt heaps, but my circle of influence was limited mostly to my colleagues within my school and to my parents (both trained teachers).

As a secondary science teacher, I would head to PD days around my subject area and network a little, however I felt very new and didn’t feel like I had anything to offer. Being introverted, I found these days, while useful, also quite daunting.

I had the idea back in 2006 to set up an online discussion forum for science teachers to connect through, ask questions and build networks. I actually set one up, but I didn’t have the connections to take it anywhere. I don’t think the idea was before its time, but with the possibilities that are available now—Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc—these things can be set up much more easily. I wish a little bit that I had persevered further with this idea, but now we’ve got great opportunities available anyway through the Virtual Learning Network (VLN), and various social media avenues as already mentioned.

Now, about 10 years later, it’s so easy to be connected to others, and I would argue that if you’re not connected then you’re letting down your students. Not because you’re not a great teacher, but because there could be so much more you could be doing for them. You could open up more doors for them that you might not even be aware are there and ready to be opened.

Being a connected educator allows us to grow, to question, to reflect, to learn, to inspire, to look on in awe, to get involved, to put your ideas out there, to get on your soapbox, to question your beliefs and practices, and to change. If you don’t know anything different, how can you make better decisions around your practice for your students?

These things have all happened to me. Well maybe not the soapbox one, but all the others have been a part of my journey as a connected educator. And it’s not over. I want to continue to learn from others. I want to be a source of inspiration to others. I want to grow through the connections I have from the amazing educators I connect with both in New Zealand and around the world.

If we don’t share our practice, then we don’t have the opportunity to inspire others or to influence other students outside of our school or classroom.

What if we could?
Nga mihi nui kia koe, Nathaniel.
Follow Nathaniel's Blog @ teaching at the end of the earth

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