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Alex Shevrinon 2 September 2013
Transcript of Connected Educators
where am I?
I teach at a small, independent, therapeutic high school. Being small (we max out at 40 students), being independent (no standardized testing!!!), and being therapeutic (which I can't possibly describe in a parenthetical) all separate my school experience from that of my peers from my teacher prep program pretty significantly.
So here I am, about a year and a half ago, interested in technology, starting a grad school program with a focus in ed tech, and interested in the bigger picture of education. Interests converged and I found an information page online about something called Ecamp. It was in Boston, near where my parents lived, so I figured I'd check it out...
Bringing it home
I've gained so much from this community that my next step is to bridge the other passionate educators at my school with these passionate educators around the world from whom I've learned so much. I've gotten a few of my coworkers on the Twitter bandwagon, and also got a few to attend an Edcamp in Vermont. They also experience the value that our non-normative experience brings to the larger conversation.
Thanks for reading! Looking forward to learning with you all.
who am I?
Although I'm at this pretty unique school, I'm so interested in the larger system of education, the changes being made, the philosophies and cultural underpinnings, and how a schoo like mine can inform the bigger picture. Within my school, it doesn't seem like many people are interested in having those conversations with others outside the school . I used to feel a little isolated - like we were in a bubble apart from the larger field.
When I was younger, I didn't think I liked using technology or was good at it - but the photo below is from this summer - playing with a Makey Makey (super nerdy tech project) on a computer that I built myself. My interest in "big picture" education and my interest in technology developed at the same time. I became passionate about the idea that technology, especially the internet, could be empowering and life-changing for my students. Again, I felt isolated - I was the 'accidental techie' in my school, the one-woman IT department - and I wanted to find others who shared my interest.
Edcamp turned out to be completely self-guided professional development.
I was welcomed into a collaborative process of learning with my peers.
what it all meant
The people I connected with were techies like me, interested in the ways technology can support our students.
The people I met cared about the big picture like me, interested in the ways innovation and difference can change a broken system.
I wasn't isolated anymore. I found "my people."
After leaving that day in Boston, I didn't want to lose the sense of community. At Edcamp, I saw nearly everyone using Twitter. In one session I raised my hand to make a comment and someone tweeted out my words - showing me that my voice was valued and that I had things to add not just to the conversation around that table but the larger, ongoing conversation. I wanted to continue participating.
I quickly learned how to use hashtags to join global, ongoing conversations. I participated in my first "tweetchat." I made connections with folks I had met at edcamp and connections with folks I'd never met but who valued what I was bringing to the conversation.
So now I was connected - but what difference did it make? The connections I made were expanding my worldview, my perspective on teaching, and my understanding of global issues. Through articles, links, and conversations, my knowledge grew, and I grew as a teacher as a result.
One of the things I love about the online community - somtimes referred to as "connected educators" - is the interplay between online and face to face interactions. The former leads to the latter leads to more and more and more connections. I experienced this when, after attending Edcamp and then engaging with the Twitter community online, I met one of Edcamp's founders at a summer course at Antioch. He became a mentor to me and helped me further connect with other educators along this trajectory I had begun.
Edcamp to Educon
One of the most powerful experiences I've had along this journey was being accepted to lead a session at Educon, a progressive education conference in Philadelphia. There, I was able to share more about my independent, small, therapeutic school - and my voice, again, was valued. What's more powerful as a learner?
As I continue to grow and learn from this communit, I hope to also continue to add my own voice and see the value in what I can bring. I also hope to challenge the community to be inclusive of different voices and ideas. Maybe someday I will become a mentor to someone and help their journey the way I had a mentor to help me.