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Middle and right photos: Death to the Stock Photo
Today’s teachers have a range of personalized learning options available to them, often for free. Which will you choose in your quest to be a better teacher?
What do you do if you want to learn about flipping your English lit classroom? And what if your students are high school seniors who want to know why they still have to learn about Jane Austen since they’re not planning to go to college? In the old days (think: before social media), you might have had few options. Short of asking the teacher down the hall for help, you might have been out of luck. But today, the magic of social media has given you the ability to access high-quality information and connect with subject matter experts from around the world without leaving home, transforming how you (and other educators) can acquire information to improve your practice.
Let’s return for a minute to the world before social media. Except for conversations with local colleagues, teachers had two options available to them for acquiring more knowledge: pay for an advanced degree or accept whatever training was available to them through their school — plus maybe the opportunity to attend the annual teacher conference within the state. If you were really lucky, you could be one of the select few who attended a national conference. Advanced degrees were and still are expensive, and the return on investment is not always there; therefore, the majority of teachers had their professional knowledge limited by what was available to them at their schools. But today, options abound for seeking answers to your targeted questions (like the ones mentioned previously) or expanding your knowledge on a broader topic.
By using Twitter and Facebook, educators can connect with one another without having to go through their school. This connection serves two purposes: 1) It opens communication among teachers from around the world; and 2) It enables the dissemination of information to occur more effectively and to a wider audience. Through this connection, educators focus on the four Cs: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity and innovation. Communication is an important part in every person’s life, but I believe it is more important to an educator. Effectively communicating what’s happening in your classroom with students, parents, and the school community is what enhances relationships. It’s not just about sending out reminders for homework or a school newsletter, both of which are great, but more about building relationships to make each partner an active member of the classroom family.
Collaborating with educators from around the world or having students work together to tackle a problem is what opens the door to critical thinking opportunities and enables learners to be creative and innovative. The four Cs create a learning environment that functions like the real world; students have the opportunity to think and work with other people to come up with real solutions.
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