It’s important to me that my first blog address the issue of being connected and how it has changed my paradigm. My journey started 3 or 4 months ago, when I attended a conference where Jimmy Casas (@casas_jimmy) and Glenn Robbins (@Glennr1809) were speaking. Since joining Twitter at that conference, I have made more connections, gotten more ideas and feedback, and shared more successes than I did in the first 12 years of my teaching career. Although I will be forever grateful to Jimmy and Glenn for sharing their passion and motivating me to reach higher, the connections I have made, and continue to make, along the way are what define my journey. I am now more motivated than ever before. I have developed a growth mindset that remained dormant for way too long. That motivation and growth mindset have ultimately filtered down to the most important part of my job, my students.
Being Connected Creates Motivation
If there is one thing I have learned over the last three months, it’s that being connected leads to motivation. Nothing creates the desire to be great more than reading about what other great educators are doing. As my PLN grows, the motivation to make a difference and be great grows with it. When I read what other educators are doing, something sparks in me and I am motivated to bring those ideas into my classroom. Being connected makes me want to be a better teacher, leader, and in my case, parent. As I participate in different #edchats or read blogs by others, I am gripped by an inspiration that I often cannot find anywhere else. Because of the connections I have made on Twitter, I have developed a deep desire to break away from the status quo. Interacting with others via outlets such as Twitter and various blogs has given me the tools to avoid complacency. As a teacher, I impart something everyday to my students, whether intended or not. If I allow myself to remain in a state of complacency, then I will ultimately create an environment of complacency. By staying motivated both personally and professionally, I create an environment of motivation within my classroom.
Being Connected Creates A Growth Mindset
For a long time, I was under the illusion that I had a growth mindset. That’s not saying that I did not want to become a better teacher, but rather that any growth mindset I thought I had was actually lying dormant. As you become more connected, and find yourself becoming more motivated, a growth mindset will naturally begin to take shape. Becoming more connected has motivated me to grow as a teacher and leader. Twitter has allowed me to develop a unique PLN, which is vital to developing and maintaining a growth mindset. On a personal level, I have begun to develop a mindset of being both disciplined and intentional. As I see others who are intentional about how they spend their time, I am inspired to do the same. While most people understand the importance of personal growth, there is a unique desire and motivation to be great that occurs when you connect yourself with other like-minded people.
Professionally, becoming a connected educator has become one of the single most contributing factors to the development of my growth mindset. Interacting with my PLN, reading various blogs, and participating in #edchats on Twitter has instilled a desire in me to get better. I have a desire to grow within my role as teacher and leader. I am a firm believer that you cannot promote growth in others unless you are growing yourself. As a teacher, I cannot expect my students to embrace a growth mindset unless they see it modeled. If I want to help bring a change in the culture and trajectory of my school, then I must embrace change and be willing to grow. Being a connected educator, by nature, will continually create a growth mindset.
Being Connected Benefits Your Students
The motivation and growth mindset you begin to develop as a connected educator will ultimately filter down to your students. As I am motivated personally and professionally, I have seen a distinct difference in how I approach my classroom everyday. I am more inspired to see students, not only succeed, but enjoy the process of learning. Listening to and reading about what other connected teachers are doing in their class naturally promotes a desire to “raise the bar” for my students. Sharing my student’s successes, as well as reading about other student successes, pushes me to provide students with the best experience possible. Through Twitter, I have discovered different lessons and ideas that my students absolutely love! Not only do I get ideas from other educators, but also from places such as Twitter, blogs, and other organizations.
Becoming more connected has created a natural accountability for the environment I create in my classroom. The willingness to take risks that I have developed as a connected educator is vital to my student’s success. Student engagement is essential for continued growth, and being connected positions me to maximize engagement with my students.
Being Connected is a Choice
Sitting at that conference back in October, I was faced with a choice about becoming connected. I could either join Twitter, or not. To not get involved would have meant to keep the status quo, and the status quo was comfortable. Growth is impossible without change, and for me to grow, I knew something had to change. Those initial choices I made have created a desire to continually get better at what I do.
You can’t force others to choose to be connected. Live your passion. Make the choice to pursue greatness. Create environments that students can’t wait to be a part of. Let your choice to be a connected educator and leader lead to greatness. When others ask what drives and motivates you to do those things, tell your story. As you share your story, always remember, the most important connection you will ever make as a teacher is with your students.
Joe Robison is a Middle School Science Teacher in Valdez, Alaska. He is passionate about connecting with kids, building relationships, and innovating in his classroom. He enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife, Wylie, and their four small children. You can follow Joe on Twitter @joerobison907.