The "Connected" Teacher

I stumbled upon a cool infographic recently that I think illustrates nicely what teaching should be like in the 21st century. The emphasis here is on “connected” educators, meaning those who actively engage in work related development through the internet. I have been doing these things so much more this year and I can say it’s made a huge difference in my teaching. The amount of information and the useful feedback I’m able to obtain by connecting myself to other teachers, professional organizations, and current research really does make such a difference in bettering my practices. I can’t imagine teaching in isolation of all that’s going on across the U.S. and across the world. In fact, I wish that there were more time available to use these same strategies from the infographic on a daily basis as part of being a teacher. I wish they could be incorporated into professional development (PD) time and that it could become commonplace for teachers to spend time connecting with other educators around the globe and then using that knowledge to enhance the department. 
Honestly, I think that the things I do with my reader and with Twitter end up being more beneficial to me in the longrun than most of what actually occurs in PD. This could be cause for a shift in the way that PD is run and maybe even in how the school schedule is run. I already get to school early every day just so I can catch up on news and organize my thoughts. It’s not a requirement and nor do most teachers, but imagine if instead of just jumping right into classes in the morning there were time for teachers to chat, share information, plan, and brainstorm ideas together. For example, I read about a cool new website or app that might be useful for x activity. Or did you hear about what happened in x state or about that situation in x country that has to do with today’s topic in class?
And what if students then utilized that same time to catch up on homework and also connect themselves to the world through their own interests so that everyone engaged in a sort of personal development before starting the normal school day. What better way to promote authenic engagement through the students’ personal interest than letting them seek out information of their own and share it with others? It may sound like a mess to some, but that’s just what education is. The schools of the future will look very different in no time indeed, because schools will start taking risks when it comes to educating their students. 
This shift could also mean that classes started to dedicate at least a little time to connecting to the outside world. As shown in the infographic, what better way to learn about issues than through comparing them with what people in other countries experience. Obviously this is paramount for someone like me who teachers modern language, but its applicability extends into any content area. I’m not suggesting that this occur in every class every day, but I think all schools should consider helping all teachers become better connected with the world in order to bring the world into the classroom. 

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