A Day in the Life of a Connected(?) Teacher

18 Oct

After last weeks class I stopped and asked myself a question, “how connected am I as a teacher and in my personal life?”  I did not do this to compare myself to Zoe Branigan-Pipe as our circumstances are very different, specifically in the realm of access to technology (I am not about to hope for a tornado anytime soon but it sure would be nice to have my classroom stacked like hers is!) but to ask myself if I am doing everything that I possibly can do to be connected.

How is my communication connected:

1. I wake up and check my Blackberry.  Yes, I am one of those people.  It is usually beside my bed, I don’t have a land line in my room so I tell myself it’s for safety but I really just feel lost without it.  That is weird now that I see it written out, but I am sure I am not the only one. Anyone else addicted to their iPhone or Blackberry?

2.  I do not check my email before heading to school, I just don’t have time but I do as soon as I as have a chance when I get there.  If my day is particularly busy, I check my Blackberry message feed at lunch for sure.

3. I prefer to communicate with parents via email.  I don’t get messages everyday (which is good) but when I get them I can reply much quicker than I can return a phone call.

4.  3:30 bell rings: I check my Facebook to see what my peeps are up to! This will be the first of probably 5 or 6 times that I will check Facebook before I go to bed. I also update my three methods of communication with my students; our class wiki, website and my newest experiment, Facebook.  This communication is the subject of my project for this class.

5.  Texting and Blackberry Messenger: My husband is a firefighter and works nights sometimes, we text often during the day as well but I find that during the evening, we text even more.  We have had some very important conversations via text! I have many people on my BBM but I communicate regularly with my brother using this method.  It’s like he lives in my purse!

6. For this class I use this blog of course.  I am also just starting to see the merits of Twitter IF it is used for networking in a PLN not for updating people with my boring day-to-day life.  That’s what Facebook is for. 🙂 I follow the blogs of my classmates using Google Reader.  I think that is about all I can handle right now as it is sometimes overwhelming to keep up with just those three.  I also created a Delicious account and saved some bookmarks to it but I am unsure of what to do with them!

Connections in my classroom:

1. Available technology:  There once was a time when I was the only teacher that regularly used the cart of 10 Macbooks and it basically lived in my room.  Moving to a bigger school changed that a little for the first year and now as more and more teachers are seeing the merits of using online tools in their rooms our two carts are not enough.  I am lucky enough to have applied for and received a demo cart of 15 HP mini laptops in my room this year.  This makes having a connected classroom so much more feasible.  We just got a SMARTboard in our school but it is not set up yet. I have experience using one and I know that once it is up and running, I will make good use of it.

2. Teaching Pedagogy and Connectivism:  My teaching pedagogy is based in Constructivism, Inquiry and Project based learning.  I think that to teach in these methodologies effectively, I need to have access to appropriate technologies at all times.  What does this look like in my room?  Students are on YouTube. Often.  This is much to the dismay of some people in my school but I know that they are used to acquiring information both visually and auditory, so why not.  My students also do a lot of other internet research.  This means that I spend time at the beginning of my year teaching information literacy skills. These are necessary in my class.  My students have iGo accounts through the school board, can access my gradebook and their marks online, can retrieve information from the class website and contribute to the class wiki, routinely use Web 2.0 tools to present their learning to each other and communicate with me via Facebook or email.  They are allowed to use their iPods for anything that they need to support their learning, whether that be reading on it, using the internet or listening to music to help them focus.  These are just some of the ways that my kids are connected, if I described everything, we would be here for too long.

Here is an example of my students using YouTube to teach the class about the science of zombies!

I think that I am doing pretty well in terms of being a connected teacher but I know that there are things that I would like to improve.

Improvements that I would like to make:

1. Experience with more Web 2.0 tools:  My students know that my two least favorite ways for them to share their learning with myself and the rest of the class are posters and Powerpoint so they are always looking for ways to present that are more interesting to view.  I find that when they ask for recommendations for web tools for them to use, I am sometimes at a loss.  I would like to find time sometime to explore more tools.  I know that there are lists of tools but I just need to find the time to play with them so I can recommend the best to my students for their needs.  I recently had a student that wanted to learn something new and so I Tweeted a plea for good tools and this is the result:

Life on Other Planets

2. Patience:  I need to work on being more patient with people who are learning.  My colleagues often come to me for help or advice on using media in their classrooms.  I am sometimes not the most patient person when it comes to this.  I know that they need to learn and at sometime someone what patient with me while I am learning (thank you Alec and Stu Harris) and I need to return the favour.

Reflecting on what I am doing and what I need to do has been helpful.  I see now that I am doing a lot for myself and my students and have set goals for myself.  What are you doing to be a connected teacher that can inspire me to do even more? Please share!

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7 Responses to “A Day in the Life of a Connected(?) Teacher”

  1. Jil W October 18, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    Hi there,
    Nice post. You seem to be ahead of the game in the classroom. I checked out your class wiki & it looks nice. Have you tried letting your students create a wiki & add things themselves on different topics?

    As far as being connected outside of the classroom, I am a smartphone (I have an Android phone & LOVE it), facebook, and twitter addict. I use my phone for email & texting, facebook to keep up with family, friends and a few colleagues, and twitter to learn new things every day!

    I see that you are using Delicious and arent too sure what to do with it. I use Diigo. I used it while pursuing my Masters so that I could keep up with different resources for different courses. I use it now to organize information for grants, I have a folder for different web tools, etc. I like it because I can go to 1 folder to look for something or I can search by tag. If I type in “video” 90 million things that I have saved come up. If I type “video” + “tool” different editing tools show up. Its really a cool thing to use in classes for collaboration…sort of like a wiki, but it can be used to teach students how to find information that is “scholarly” and not just junk on the web. You can play around with my diigo account if you’d like… its:

    http://www.diigo.com/user/itjilwright

  2. Wendy Drexler October 18, 2010 at 7:16 pm #

    Your reflection is very thorough and I really enjoy hearing how other teachers are incorporating technology in the classroom. It is particularly interesting to see the differences in available technology in schools across North America. There is still quite a wide digital divide. You might look at Glogster as a presentation option for your students. It’s REALLY easy to use. The kids love it, and there’s so much more room for creativity than with a PPT. Check it out at http://www.glogster.com There is also an edu version at http://edu.glogster.com/

  3. byrnesa October 19, 2010 at 2:36 am #

    1. I do not own a Blackberry because I am scared that I will be addicted to it. That being said, I will have one by Christmas… guaranteed haha

    2. The first thing I do when I get up is check my cell phone. Next I grab breakfast and eat while checking out the computer. I check Facebook, 3 email accounts and Twitter.

    3. I am not at the email stage with my parents yet, but I WISH! I agree, it’s sometimes much easier to send an email than to return a phone call.

    4. Bell rings and I immediatly log into email and Twitter and sometimes Facebook or things for this class… and then I tune into my marking (as long as what I find on Facebook or Twitter doesn’t become too consuming 🙂

    5. I use my delicous account to bookmark all of the things I want to read or look at when I have time (so basically once I am done my Masters degree haha)

    Thanks for the post! 🙂 Reading all of these reflections is helping me reflect on my own experiences.

  4. byrnesa October 19, 2010 at 2:38 am #

    One more comment… Read this blog and thought of you 🙂
    http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2010/10/facebook-doesnt-get-teachers-fired.html

  5. Allie Anderson October 20, 2010 at 7:35 am #

    Hello! My name is Allie and I am in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL. I found your blog post to be very interesting. I am just like you when it comes to sleeping with my smartphone beside the bed. I do believe that it is because I would feel extremely lost without it. I also check my facebook, twitter, and email through my phone in the morning. Sometimes it is even easier for people to contact me through email than through calling or texting. I am not currently in a classroom, but when I am I hope to use technology whenever possible. Good Luck!

  6. Lisa M Lane October 23, 2010 at 2:28 am #

    Ah, patience. A couple of years ago, I had a colleague come into the building and tell me, with great confidence and pride, how he’d managed to upload a .doc into Blackboard. I could tell from his face that my reaction (likely a raised Spockean eyebrow) was underwhelming and likely hurt his feelings. I also have to be careful not to get all excited and talk past people, to listen. BUT one never knows how one is perceived – I just got my faculty evaluations and discovered that many faculty see me as being more patient and balanced than I am, so you never know! 🙂

  7. J October 26, 2010 at 9:06 pm #

    Danielle, you are not the only one who checks their Blackberry first thing in the morning. For me, it is the last thing I look at at night and the first thing in the morning. I know it is silly but it is what connects me to all aspects of my life.

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