This week in CEP810, we are talking about how we can expand our professional learning networks using online tools and resources such as Twitter and RSS feeds.
I started my Twitter account in 2009 toward the end of my teacher preparation program. I started following different educational sources and technology sources that I found interesting. Every time that I went to a conference – such as MACUL, MAPSA and MIWLA, I would use the #hashtag for that conference and interacted with not only the experts teaching sessions but also other teachers and administrators who were attending the conferences at the time. I always found this useful. However, I never thought about using Twitter to find ideas for lesson plans or connect with other schools (potentially in other countries) to setup connections for my own classroom (like twitter pen-pals or something on those lines or compare cultures of classrooms in Spanish-speaking countries for my students) until now.
After creating the Popplet about where I get my information – I didn’t really think about how inundated with information I am — and it’s constant!
And between working both for Apple, Inc. and as a teacher, there’s so much information for me to learn and WANT to learn!!
I also created an RSS Aggregator and followed some resources. I used the aggregator Feedly.com — which upon downloading it to my iPhone, realized that I had downloaded it before and tried using it. (Not sure why I stopped). Another one that I’ve also used before on an iPad is FlipBoard. I think my first time ever hearing about RSS feeds was when I got my first Macbook Pro in 2007 – because Apple had a feed aggregator built right into the Mail application (I don’t believe it has it anymore now).
Now that I’ve relinked myself to some RSS feeds, I will have another place to go that can be added to my PLN.
PLNs for many reasons. One being that it helps educators grow, find resources to introduce to their students and find innovative ways to bring information (and technology) to their classrooms.
The following quote from the National Education Technology Plan and cited in our learning for my CEP 810 course, talks about how educators work alone and that half of teachers leave the profession within 5 years of graduating. I won’t lie, I continually think about how I want to get out of the classroom daily (hence, why I started the MAET program). It’s so true:
From the National Educational Technology Plan (2010, p.39):
Teaching today is practiced mostly in isolation. Many educators work alone, with little interaction with professional colleagues or experts in the outside world. Professional development typically is provided in short, fragmented, and episodic workshops that offer little opportunity to integrate learning into practice. A classroom educator’s primary job is understood to be covering the assigned content and ensuring that students test well. Many educators do not have the information, the time, or the incentives to continuously improve their professional practice from year to year.
Not surprisingly, half of freshly minted teachers leave the profession within the first five years (Ingersoll and Smith, 2003). These conditions exist because our education system and the institutions that prepare educators often fail to give educators the tools to do their job well. Our education system holds educators responsible for student achievement but does not support them with the latest technology the way professionals in other fields are supported. Although some preservice programs are using technology in innovative ways (Gomez et al., 2008), widespread agreement exists that teachers by and large are not well prepared to use technology in their practice (Kay 2006). As a result, the technology of everyday life has moved well beyond what educators are taught to and regularly use to support student learning.
After reading this, it helped me understand why I think about leaving the profession all the time — it gets lonely and you always feel like someone (administration, teachers, students, curriculum, etc.) is against you. It’s like one man against thousands.
With a PLN, you feel like you’re not alone and the more in depth your create your professional learning network, the less isolated you will feel.