While living in the 21st century can be scary and unknown at times, it’s a truly unique time to be alive and working in education. The sheer availability of resources and information is transforming the landscape of teaching and learning, and it’s creating so many opportunities for sharing. Recently, virtual spaces are where I feel most connected to other educators and the amazing ideas, practices and work they’re sharing.
But thankfully, VR and AR have not completely replaced teachers yet, so I feel like it would be amiss to not include real-life networks and connections that shape my teaching, learning and life experiences.
My Online PLN
As I mentioned in my first blog post, I am huge fan of Twitter, especially as an educator. Joining a couple of years ago was a total game changer for me.
I also belong to other educator groups on Facebook and follow some teachers on Instagram, but these are less impactful on my practice than Twitter.
Photo credit: Pixabay
COETAIL is another learning community that I’m part of, but I’ve also been taking some coaching courses through Eduro as well, so I’ll include those here too. Blended learning has always been great for me because it’s self-paced, personalized to my work contexts and (usually) immediately applicable.
Photo credit: edurolearning.com
Real-Life Learning Communities
My connections at work are far-reaching, even though it’s a small school. I get to interact with and learn from a range of students, teachers and leaders. My role in the leadership and curriculum teams keep me challenged and connected in different capacities.
I also head up a Teacher Inquiry Group around co-teaching and co-planning this year under our school’s new Professional Development plan. This means that teachers who share a professional passion or goal work together as a small cohort to gain a deeper understanding of this area and then share back with the school community at the end of the year. There are 10 of us in this group and we’ve been researching, brainstorming and throwing ourselves into new teaching experiences all year. This is one of the coolest learning projects I’ve ever taken part in, and I’m excited to see what other groups have learned.
Photo credit: issp.edu.vn
The Best of Both Worlds
As luck would have it, my learning communities often intersect the virtual and real worlds. This happens when I attend monthly events, connect with educators at our sister schools and network with amazing people at regional conferences. Here are some examples:
My school belongs to a larger group/network of schools called Cognita. This allows me to connect with other educators both locally and around the globe. We use a company-wide platform where we can easily see what things we can take part in or reach out to make connections with teachers and students in other Cognita schools in the region and around the globe. My current mentor, Frank, works at ISHCMC just down the road, and he’s been a tremendous resource for me in my technology integration role.
Photo credit: Cognita
Once a month, I meet up at pubs around the city to connect with other educators in person and online at #PubPD. If you’ve never heard of this event, you should jump on Twitter and check it out! Basically, there’s a new topic each month and you join in person and on Twitter at the same time as other groups of educators in other bars in other cities and you share. It’s awesome, but it’s also part of the reason I’m not losing weight at the moment!
Photo credit: evensi
Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a few different conferences including Learning 2 Asia and Vietnam Tech Conference as either a participant or a presenter. These conferences have been enriching experiences in so many ways, but mainly because I’ve been able to connect with people who have shared interests, goals and experiences as educators. These events are always doubly exciting to me because I often get to meet, learn from and interact with people who I follow on Twitter. The last couple of conferences have been great because I’ve connected with current and former COETAIL graduates, people working in EdTech and even a team of tech coaches who will soon my co-workers when I move to Guangzhou, China in the summer!