Tuesday, January 27, 2015

One Life to Live... and Learn.

"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."~ John Wooden

 Each fall, my good friend Ken Boardman an associate professor at Rider University, passionately emphasizes to his pre-service teachers this pearl of  wisdom; " the world is your classroom". Undoubtedly this has always been true in a conventional sense. Today's news will always be fodder for tomorrow's class discussion. However, with our current ability to become connected students and educators this idea has taken on new meaning. On a global scale, today's teachers and learners have unprecedented access to information and knowledge due to the availability of electronic resources, the internet and social media. Human and electronic resources are literally at our fingertips, for our convenience.  The opportunity to learn has never been more immediate nor has our ability to transfer knowledge to others.

Thirteen months ago I unwittingly embarked upon a journey to improve as an educator.  I began to explore the possibilities of using Twitter to develop a Professional Learning Network. Within the first month I began to establish personal connections with likeminded educators that shared my passion for making a positive impact on the lives of today's youth. Through hashtag conversations, tweets and blog posts, personal and professional relationships were being formed, renewed and strengthened. Authentic learning experiences were taking place as wisdom was being mutually shared. Eventually opportunities were created that allowed me to meet my PLN face to face at regional and national conferences.  Our connections were being strengthened as we shared our convictions for education.  Connections were being made at the local, national and global level and I was feeling empowered to strengthen my instructional practices as well as create engaging learning experiences for my students.  Learning was now occurring autonomously and at my convenience.  Resources focused on current educational pedagogy were consistently made available and were essentially limitless. I was living out of my comfort zone and I was growing. Furthermore, my students were reaping the benefits because my learning experiences translated to improvements in  the classroom..

Last week I was engaged in a weekly #Tlap conversation about the ABC's of learning and at the end of the conversation there was a challenge question in which we were asked by the moderator, Shelley Burgess to include a response using the UN prefix. Essenntially this was a contest to generate the most favorities and or retweets per individual response.  My response was Unforgettable, and that I never want my students to forget why they love learning. It was a response that met with many retweets and favorites. Also it resulted in my winning of  the contest and receiving and autographed copy of the new book P is for Pirate which is written by Dave and Shelley Burgess.  One of the favorites came from my friend and valued PLN member Barry Saide who reminded me that "nor should we" as educators ever forget why we love learning. His sentiment  reminded me how much my love for learning has been rejuvenated since I became a connected educator.  The places that learning will take us is amazing if we are willing to make ourselves available to new ideas. While the "world remains our classroom" as connected educators the current and future possibliliities for learning will remain limitless if we continue to embrace new and innovative ways to do so.  My only regret is that I only have " one life to live and learn."

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