Connect.. Mad, Crazy, Easy with Sheryl Nussbaum Beach

 This evening we were blessed with guest speaker Sheryl Nussbaum Beach who discussed  being connected teachers.  She began by posing the question of how connected we are in our professional lives. Thought provoking to say the least! I had always viewed myself as somewhat connected socially through things such as Facebook and of course my Blackberry! But once I step foot into a classroom or professional environment…. did that practice for me still continue??  I guess I hadn’t really thought of that until I began this  ECI831 class.  A visual that Sheryl used referred to  the look of a connected teacher. This was originallt created by our professor Dr. Alec Couros and drew some interesting thoughts on what a connected teacher might look like.

Probably one of the most powerful tools I am learning to use to becoming professionally connected would be Twitter. It has been an eye-opening and amazing experience to have started to develop a network of colleagues that I can call out to and have meaningful, almost real-time communications with. This connected group of colleagues act as a great resource and mentors as I work through this course. Not to mention I feel more “globally” connected than ever before thanks to the vast geographical range of my Twitter mentors.

I also really enjoyed listening to Sheryl’s three-pronged approach to PD.  She described the PLC (Professional learning community) as face to face or groups of individuals whom have regular conversations to grow and learn in a local context. The Global Community of Practice who learn socially  in a wider context and PLN’s (professional learning networks) that promote the continuation of learning as directed by the individual learner whom will grow professional just as we expect our students do. In the past and based on the descriptors, I believe I have participated in a PLC environment but it was very much directed and not necessarily learner centered.

I then began to think about just how these communities and networks can be built especially on-line? Which might I add we had a great discussion on the difference between a Community vs a Network!  From the discussion I took away that a network is used to pull people together, while a community is more personal and usually is a branch of a network. A community binds people together who want to share in a more centralized topic or set of ideas.  In one of Sheryl comments she mentioned that those begining to build on-line communities should “start loosely and build for evolution to develop and create the community” . This will allow for flexibility in how the members of the community can participate and encourage growth. I later followed up our class with a vist to her blog and found she  posted some great ideas on how to begin to build a community. You can read more about this in her blog post Community Building – Powerful Learning Indeed. I particularly like the point she makes in that regardless of the type of community you might be building, you need a plans. Sometimes I think plans can be overlooked or in some cases to rigid.  As in the case of my PLC experience, our plan was dictated rather than discovered. 🙂 

After all was said and done, I began thinking about the types of networks and communities I am currently a part of and just how connected I truly am especially in my professional life.  What exactly was MY plan for building my “connectedness”?? I wonder if this could lead to a  project for ECI831?? 

Based on my current experience in our province, we have a lot of teachers using interactive technologies. As part of my new career path I have noticed that many of these teachers are connecting more on a global scale rather than a local one. Thus I think they have built networks but not necessarily a community of local learners. I am wondering if there is a way to support/encourage local teachers to connect with one another whom are using interactive technology? Perhaps some of my mentors/blog readers will have some feedback on this and if it would make for a viable project in this class???

Thanks bunches for the anticipated feedback!

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Connect.. Mad, Crazy, Easy with Sheryl Nussbaum Beach

  1. I think the best way you can support/encourage local teachers to connect with one another is to set a good example yourself. If any of them ask if it is successful, you will be able to draw from your own experiences and show them how your network has been beneficial to you.

  2. Hi,

    Interesting blog post. I’d like to comment on two things: CoPs and local network for local teachers.

    Regarding CoPs, I think it would help to read Etienne Wenger’s theory, see http://www.ewenger.com/, http://www.learning-theories.com/communities-of-practice-lave-and-wenger.html He emphasizes the role of social participation in a CoP. This is a major factor since without the social interaction there won’t be much networking and therefore in the long run, the connection with other group members won’t be as solid. It takes people to connect, yes, but the relationship must grow into something stronger that really bonds the group i.e. friendship, open/informal mentoring, etc. Webheads in Action is a solid CoP and proven through the years of continuous collaboration with TPD projects and class-related projects.

    Secondly, I’m interested in your idea of establishing local network for local teachers. My PhD thesis focuses on local teachers’ online TPD i.e. ementoring and how learning & change can take place in their real teaching contexts. It was a long and tedious process but I saw how it worked and what the shortcomings were. I’d like to see your idea grow into something that will work for the teachers in your community. The first thing that you need to do is to prepare a mindmap or an outline on how you intend to make this happen. You can do this, one step at a time.

    Goodluck and keep me updated with your project.

    Aiden
    aka motherchina (Twitter)

  3. I do agree with you on the Twitter point. I have had a Twitter account, but did not use it at all. I have always used Facebook to connect with friends and/or family. But in ECI831 I discovered the beauty of Twitter. It’s a genius social network. I just have those connections and followers from different countries. I like this so much. They post stuff related to what they have in their schools, so I benefit a lot to know what issues they have in their societies. I think I am globally connected 🙂

  4. Stephen King

    I’ve tried demonstrating twitter to colleagues and have had a few join, but they have not really embraced it. I am having more success with a yammer network I started for our school division. I am getting colleagues joining from across the Division (NLSD 113 – we cover about a third of the geographical area of Saskatchewan). I am spreading it by word of mouth and a few invites at time. Now others are inviting people to join (I guess people feel safer in a closed network). Check yammer out it might work for you and your colleagues. The best thing about yammer is you can use yammer and twitter at the same time; your tweets can be linked to yammer by adding “#yam” to the tweet.

    Good luck on your journey.

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