Being a teacher is a challenge like no other. No one else has the sustained responsibility of teaching little minds how to think critically, spark curiosity and support creativity, all within the confines of a crowded classroom.
I have been involved in education for over 30 years in many different roles and contexts. While the job itself does not get easier, my confidence in my knowledge and skills grows stronger through collaboration, reflection and practice.
Professional learning communities (PLCs) are like the power drink I need to get through the challenges and to re-energize my commitment. The phrase describes groups as varied as the topics around which they are formed. Many educators have PLCs on Twitter or other social media. Some are members of PLCs at their schools, within their districts or through professional organizations. What they all share, though, is the passion of the educators who come together to help, support and teach each other.
Right now there is a dynamic professional learning network growing at ISTE called Project ReimaginED. What makes this network unique is the breadth and depth of the topics and issues that educators discuss in them. The focus is the synergy between the ISTE Standards and the Common Core. The digital conversations go far beyond the latest and greatest technology tool or new social media app. In addition to new tools, I am also learning about the tried and true, but through a new lens — how to really use the ISTE Standards to change my practice to meet the rigor and expectations of the Common Core.
For me it is all about making connections. Of course I’m referring to connections with educators around the world, but what I find so enlightening and invigorating are the connections between the ISTE Standards and how they give us a way to interact with the content required by the Common Core.
Recently a discussion of teaching critical reading skills through the use of digital tools led to a thread about primary source documents, historical and current, and how the availability of international news provides students with opportunities to gain experience with perspective, point of view, bias and author’s purpose.
I subscribe to the daily digest, which lets me keep up with what’s going on and click into the discussions that spark my interest.
Here’s just an example of some of the threads:
- What about the digital divide?
- Unlimited screen time is fine ... if used responsibly
- The world literature classroom, digital natives and ed tech
- Essential questions resources
- Virtual education and the Common Core
- The relationship between Common Core and ISTE Standards
The conversations around how to approach the challenges of the Common Core through the framework of the ISTE Standards inspire new ideas and strategies every day. I invite you to join the network and share your learning.
October is Connected Educator Month. Celebrate by joining the Project ReimaginED community.
Paula Don has been involved in education for over 30 years. She is a director for educational technology for the School District of Philadelphia, where she is responsible for development of professional learning, online learning strategies and curriculum design.
This is an updated version of a post published on Dec. 22, 2014.