How to Be a Connected Educator

October 15, 2013
Kelsey Herron
Common Sense Media
San Francisco, CA
CATEGORIES Digital Citizenship, Digital Literacy, In the Classroom, Professional Development

October is Connected Educator Month -- we are two weeks into the month that the Department of Education (DOE) has dedicated to helping teachers and administrators connect and collaborate online. The initiative, part of a larger effort to encourage teachers to take advantage of online tools and resources, also features annual themes. This year’s themes include topics like Innovating STEM and Literacy, Personalized Learning, and 21st Century Classroom Management, among others.

So, what exactly are “connected educators”? Ultimately, their goal is to prepare this generation of students for an exciting and unpredictable future, full of 21st century tools. Yet, as the Connected Educator starter kit (pdf) explains, they must first take on the role of a connected learner, using the internet to share ideas and collaborate with their peers. Most importantly, a connected educator must bring what they learn from these online conversations back into their districts, schools, and classrooms.

We have a plethora of resources to encourage professional development through online collaboration. To see how we are participating, see all of our listings on the ConnectedEducator calendar. In addition, our site is full of online webinars, information on in-person workshops, and videos of effective lessons explained in detail by teachers themselves. Visit our site if you’re interested in learning how to weave technology into your lesson plans or how to prepare your students with digital literacy and citizenship lessons. For example you can join our monthly "Appy Hour on Air" series to hear about how educators are using digital tools for learning.

And created in part for Digital Citizenship Week, which arrives later this month, we also have an online community for educators hosted at Edmodo, the popular social networking site for educators and students. It’s the perfect place for teachers to share questions, ideas, and creative solutions about teaching digital citizenship and how to use technology in the classroom. And catch our webinar co-hosted with Edmodo on Wednesday, October 23 at 4pm PDT.

Aside from connecting online, there’s also a series of events to spur teacher-to-teacher collaboration. Here are a few that caught our attention, but be sure to check out the online calendar yourself:

  • Executive Functioning Skills through Games & Apps – Provided by BrainPOP, an animated educational site for kids, this webinar points to specific apps and games that can help teach students executive functioning skills. It also touches on innovative strategies for teaching alternative learners and children with disabilities.
  • Digital Citizenship Week Educator Mixer – For those of you teaching in Chicago, we’ve partnered with Chicago Public Schools to launch a “mixer” where educators across the district can come together in person for a social learning event. There will be stations set up where educators can learn about the various tools and activities that support digital citizenship.
  • Connecting Outside the Classroom – In this webinar, three teachers from a Texas school district will share the tools and strategies that help them connect with other students and teachers, both inside the classroom and around the world.

As we’ve said before, no teacher should be an island, and Connected Educator Month marks the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the online resources that the World Wide Web has to offer. Be sure to sign up for the Connected Educator Month newsletter if you didn’t last year, and join the dialogue by following @CommonSenseEd on Twitter. You can also use the hashtag #ce13 to stay updated on this month’s news and events.