Wednesdays are meeting days in my school district. I typically dred Wednesdays. Not because I do not want to meet with my colleagues. Not because I dislike or disrespect any of my administrators, but because the meetings are typically filled with the necessary evils of education: information about new state testing procedures, clarification on the new teacher evaluation model, or the generation of yet another curriculum embedded assessment to collect data that no one really understands how to use. This Wednesday, however, will be different due to a serendipitous encounter between myself and another educator through Edmodo.
A few weeks ago I was browsing through the Social Studies page on Edmodo and saw that a teacher, somewhere in the United States, had developed a phenomenal activity on modern day slavery, a topic my teaching partner and I were about to cover as part of our “Oppression and Reform” unit. His lesson included a link to a TED video that I had not known of and was then able to incorporate into our lesson. I was able to share with this unknown colleague a New York Times article with a link to online quiz that allows one to determine “How Many Slaves Work for You”. It was not until after this exchange, perhaps a week later, that this colleague and I realized we teach in the same school district. I am in my fifth year in my current position (although I have been with the district longer) and he is in his first.
So this Wednesday my teaching partner, this newly discovered like-minded peer, and I will meet face to face. On this Wednesday I will be excited and energized because I am certain the conversation will be filled with a meaningful exchange of resources and ideas that I can immediately implement in my classroom. Professional learning, like all learning, is best when it is directed by the learner, planned by the learner, and relevant to the learner. We all know this for our students, but do we, including our administrators, recognize it for ourselves? Social media including Edmodo, Facebook, and most of all Twitter, have connected me with other educators who, among other things, want to challenge themselves and their students, infuse technology, and require creativity and authenticity in their classrooms. These relationships have provided me with more than would be possible if I only met with the same colleagues, in the same room, on the seemingly same Wednesday.
I hope Wednesday comes quickly this week so this new connection can be solidified. Hopefully, the way the three of us connected can serve as a model and inspiration for those who have not embraced developing a professional learning network through social media. Happy Wednesday!