Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Roll Down the Windows

Every day brings changes to our world. Tools evolve; ideas emerge; projects are born. Through your personal learning network, you are already immersed in this change; but what about everyone else?

Your face-to-face colleagues may not truly understand it, but by now, they probably realize that you are part of some larger learning community. I like to suggest that it's time to take these colleagues by the hand, and to introduce them to this dynamic online world of professional learning. The good news is that there is an easy, and not-so-intimidating way to do it.

Like a dog in a car, the world just whizzes by, seemingly beyond our control. Even so, we choose to participate. We engage in conversations that matter. We keep informed about what our colleagues are doing. We amplify the best ideas we encounter. We share.

Sadly, many of our colleagues are so immersed in the day to day experience, that they may as well be riding along behind tinted windows that are rolled up tight. Focusing only on the path they're on, most of our fellow teachers have no idea of the range of thought-provoking conferences, collaborative projects, or innovative tools that are just outside the window.

How do we best introduce teachers to the test pilots among us who are creating and sharing a new vision for education?

My number one suggestion, is to invite your co-workers to roll down the windows in order to get a sense of what's happening in connected classrooms around the corner, and around the world. It's easier than you might think.

You don't have to share a new teaching strategy.
You don't have to impress with the latest gadgets or web tools.
You don't have to coach the development of personal learning networks.
You don't have to introduce Twitter, or hashtags, or social media.
You don't need to teach about curation or subscriptions.

Begin by rolling the window down just a crack, and your colleagues can experience a world of continuous learning. Here are just a few ways to introduce your fellow teachers to people and ideas that inspire.

1. Share the link to one crowd-sourced online newspaper.
The Tweeted Times is where I get my morning fix for the stories I may have missed the previous day. Another I visit for stories shared by my Ontario colleagues, is Doug Peterson's: The Best of Ontario-Educators Daily.

2. Point colleagues to one news feed.
Here, educators can read engaging stories that highlight the thinking of fellow change agents. The stories change every day, but the link stays the same.

3. Share a link to one of the pages you use to collect bookmarks.
Your entire bookmark library may be of interest, but you might also share only a specific tag like 'classrooms of tomorrow'. When you find something, they'll know where its at.

4. Point app-lovers to one education news aggregator.
A few years ago, I developed 'Clever App', a tool I use to access the news from my PLN at least a few times each week.

5. Send your friends to one great blog each week.
If you're a regular reader of blogs, why not share the feeds to some of your favourite writers?

6. Email one story a day.
You have access to dozens, but a teacher who never seems to have the time, might get hooked on one a day if you choose wisely.

7. Pro tip: Automate
If you have yet to discover If This, Then That, you might be interested to know that you can automate delivery of news to your colleagues. If you tweet a link, have it automatically posted to your delicious feed or to your blog. If you bookmark a resource, have IFTTT automatically email it to your friends.

Once they get a breeze in their hair, your colleagues might be eager to join teachers far and wide are learning and sharing everyday. On their very own, they may wind that window all the way down and ask you how they might more deeply engage in this world. It's then that Twitter, blogging, and personal learning networks might become part of the conversation.

What's holding you back? Go ahead and share one resource might lead a teacher to make a habit of professional reading every day. If you roll down the window, your colleagues may well engage in conversation across the hallway... or around the globe! It doesn't have to be overwhelming, just choose a simple way to share the powerful connections you've already discovered.

Photo credits: Zilla in the Car by Vagabond Shutterbug; Sheep in a Truck by smcgee; Coaster rider by Fellowship of the Rich
blog comments powered by Disqus