Spreading the message is something that I am extremely passionate about. Encouragement, inspiration, enticement, instruction, and support are the primary tools I use to create change through communication and collaboration.
Technology has made the world a very small place, enabling us to readily interact with larger and larger circles of teachers than ever before. I communicate with educators across the globe through social media including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Google+. This allows me to share ideas and gain insights that I may never have otherwise. I regularly publish articles to my blog, create instructional videos on YouTube, and share training materials on the web through sites like Smore, Quizlet, Symbaloo, ThingLink, Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud. I am always amazed and amused when looking at web analytics of the content I have published. You truly never know how far your reach is. In the U.S., people who remember the 8-track tape seem to like me best. In non-English speaking countries, I appeal to younger audiences. What any of that means, I’m not sure, but some people, somewhere, are listening. So I must continue to spread the word.
Collaborating is truly important if we are to create an education system that is greater than what we currently have. We have to be just as open to new ideas as we are to sharing ideas of our own. I have experienced this in social media, but the best example comes from participating in PLCs internationally. My first experience of this was in facilitating a book study on Marzano and EdTech in Edmodo. Sometimes we had to use Google translate to find a middle ground to communicate, but the melding of ideas and perspectives is nothing short of amazing.
I participate in professional organizations like ISTE, TCEA, TENOR, and NTATD. This allows me to collaborate with other technology directors and educational leaders. Last week, in TENOR, a discussion of YouTube exploded on our list serve. I quickly worked with several DFW districts on a Google form so we could collect and share data with over 100 school districts about using YouTube instructionally. It was as if as soon as one person had an idea or a need, someone else was already creating the questions on the form to collect data and meet that need. I collaborate with instructional coaches from Eanes ISD on a frequent basis through Twitter direct messages. When we share ideas, it gives each of us more tools in our toolbox to help teachers in our home districts. Twitter also let me collaborate recenly with three different teachers on using iBooks Author with Desmos and other resources to improve math instruction. Social media has truly opened the door, allowing us to work together very practically to solve problems.
Training allows me to both communicate and collaborate with other teachers across the U.S. When I travel to other districts to teach, I am not only transmitting or facilitating their learning a specific skill, but we often work together to discover new ways of using technology to improve learning. I can then take what I learn from the people who attend my trainings, and share that with others. Last month, in a training I conducted, we discovered together how to embed Google forms into iBooks Author to create formative assessments. Participants learn more when they can contribute, create, and share the very skills that I am there to teach.
Spreading the word, whether through communication or collaboration, truly defines my role as a teacher and instructional leader. It is the means through which I can help create a ripple effect of positive change in the world around me. It is also the means through which I am able to grow as a teacher and a person.