One of our goals as educators in New York State is to ensure that as a result of a faithful implementation of the Common Core State Standards our students are on the path to being college and career ready. What constitutes being college and career ready is debatable but one thing many educators agree upon is that our children need practice employing and mastering 21st Century skills, which have been identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills as being able to create, innovate, think critically, communicate and collaborate. When considering how we might best scaffold our children in their efforts towards mastering these skills, the idea of connectedness must be at the core. The power of connectedness is clearly communicated in the story of Clarissa’s journey within an online community that helped her develop her fictional writing skills as a result of the connections she established with peers who shared the same passions and interests. Connections, and developed networks, can facilitate learning for our children and as such must be part of the educational experience in our schools today. Our schools must also embrace the 21st century, as it relates to technological resources, and help our children refine the skills necessary for networking and establishing connections beyond the school walls.
One resource that has yet to be incorporated in many of our schools, as a powerful tool with the ability to foster connections and networks, is Twitter. Twitter is a tool that could help “flatten the walls” of our schools and allow children the opportunity to make local, national and international connections and take the idea of pluralism and diverse perspectives to a whole other level. These connections will allow students to develop their own Personal Learning Networks as a resource that can shape one’s skills and make the act of creating, collaborating and problem solving a global experience.
As an educator, I have experienced the power of Twitter firsthand over the last year (@Cantiague_Lead). In my time using Twitter I can say that my professional life has been transformed in ways that I could have never imagined. From the personal connections I have developed through those I follow and those who follow me, I have learned more in the past eighteen months on Twitter about instruction, student engagement and leadership than I have learned in the last eight years as an administrator from any professional development opportunity or workshop I have attended. If I am struggling with an issue or have a question about a resource, I send out a tweet and within minutes, thanks to the thousands of connections I have established, I am flooded with different perspectives, opinions and viable resources that come from trusted colleagues. The experiences on Twitter have pushed me out of my comfort zone and have exposed me to ideas and approaches that have revolutionized the way I lead our building. My connectedness is at the core of my evolution as the Lead Learner of our school.
With the power of connections being able to transform the way we teach and learn, as evidenced by Clarissa’s story and my personal journey, it is clear to me that we must start an educational revolution and join the 21st Century before it is too late!