Why Educators Network?

This question was asked to me be a friend who was nearing the end of their career. They mentioned to me that “in the past there weren’t options to network with others and we taught just fine”! Well, if you are OK with being a “fine” teacher then maybe networking is not for you. If you aim to be the best, 21st century teacher you can be; networking in an essential. Here are 5 examples of what educators gain by networking!

1. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel – 24/7 there are thousands of cutting edge ideas floating around social networks. If you take the time to find them or find the source, you will certainly be happy with the results. When we created our STEM program, these networks were essential in the lift off of a productive school.

2. You have MORE co-workers – The typical co-worker is a collaborator with you. Networking helps you to connect with like minded people. Once connected, you can conjoin you classes to create a super-lesson! We connect two times a month with a class across the nation! Showing your students how to have a positive, global connection is more powerful than your best “traditional” lesson.

3. You have an emotional safeguard – Sharing your feelings, thoughts, and reflections on social networks can be an extremely important step into a teachers mind shift. Participating in a Twitter chat based on a passion of yours will allow you to voice your opinion while not compromising your relationship with the people around you.

4. You gain 21st century teacher skills – The 4C’s are probably the most important skills you can model/teach to your students. Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical Thinking are basics of social networks and help you to scaffold your own understanding of these ideas in a digital sense to better assist you in your classroom.

5. You make friends – Too many times I go to a conference and run into people who are my friends on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. I am always humbled by the person who approaches me and praises me for the posts that I put out! It truly changes the way you go about teaching!

Keep tuned in for a post on how to network!

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What Excites My Students

This post may be one that is completely irrelevant because many of you know that I teach kindergarten, and think to yourself, they are always excited! Well, this is true, but I am talking about “learning” excited. How do I get my kiddies excited to learn and be at school. There are many ways that I do this and I aim to highlight some of my favorites for you today!

1. The YouTube Channel for Story Bots – I use this channel when teaching letters, sounds, science, and health topics. There is so much information found in these fun, modernly musical videos! Check out the channel here StoryBots

2. Engineering Integration – I do teach at a STEM school, but the integration of this into any school is amazingly easy. We base all our building challenges into literature lessons. Think about it, in every story there is a problem. We simply highlight this problem, brainstorm solutions, and create models to solve it! Here is a basic framework for our LEGO unit, which kicks off our engineering trimester!

3. Thematic Units – Every student loves to dive into themes that reach deeper and are more than the basics. These units are very effective when covering science and social studies standards. We have a great thematic unit on Egypt that my students LOVE!

4. Gamification! – This is not only just a buzz word, it is real! My students cannot wait for the days when we host a gamification lesson. They all know how to play without knowing how much learning they are really doing! Our personal favorite is Kahoot!

5. Connect with Others – Currently, we connect with another classroom bi-weekly to do tons of tasks. Here is the folder of the templates we use to connect. I highly encourage you to find another classroom to connect with and do some of these tasks. The further away, the better!

I hope you read this post and can take just one idea away from here! These are just a few of the fun things I like to integrate into my classroom to excite my students about learning!

What We REALLY Want to Hear!

Social networking is a phenomena that has overtaken this era. People are connecting in more ways that ever before which is certainly not a bad thing. With all this connecting, what are you sharing. Personally, I try to share the newest and coolest ideas that I can come up with, but that comes with a risk. Some may completely HATE everything that I share or some may already be doing these cool things which makes things that I say obsolete.

Regardless of how is shared or how it is shared, there are some basic things that I feel, we should all share. These three thoughts are and should be different for every person and should reflect you as a person and as an educator. Here they are:

People want to hear the failures! – More often than not, we share what is good about our lessons or our classrooms, but is this really making your classroom  better? Is it helping us to reflect on our teaching enough to make improvements on our instruction in a way that we can help others to better their teaching? Probably not! Reflecting on the negatives is an important step in the improvement process of anything we do in our lives. I recommend you share these with your PLN to help everyone get better!

People want to hear your opinions! – Everyone on social networks is guilty of this, (especially in Minnesota). I don’t like to read through my feed and see generic, vending machine answers to questions. That is boring and not something I get excited about. I want to hear your passion, the fire you have inside of you about a subject, or lesson, or activity! Let out those feelings, in a respectful manner, on social networks.

People want to hear your inspirations! – I think this is universal for everyone. We are all searching for new inspirations to help excite us to come to school the next day. As Murray Banks states “It’s Showtime”. We should all feel this way when we walk into your classrooms for the day. Sharing these adrenaline packed inspirations with your PLN will help to share the excitement and innovation!