What’s Wrong with Connected Educators’ Month?

October is Connected Educators’ Month, and there’s great buzz all around the web.

I’m grateful that my colleagues like Jessica Johnson and Eric Sheninger have done so much to get other principals using Twitter for professional purposes.

And I think Will Richardson’s concept of the Personal Learning Network has taken hold.

(If you’re looking for great examples of PLNs in action, read everything Matt Wachel and John Bernia tweet – pure gold.)

A Colossal Waste of Time

But I’m convinced that most of the sound and fury around social media in education availeth nothing.

Trying really hard to get educators to “connect” might not be such a good idea.

Why? Because it becomes an end in itself.

If your goal is to be “connected,” you have the wrong goal.

If your goal is to “share ideas” and “connect” with other educators, you have the wrong goal.

Being connected is not the point. Connecting is not the point. Having a bunch of Twitter friends all around the country and world is not the point—though it’s cool, and I really enjoy it, and love talking with the awesome people I’ve met on Twitter. If it’s what you choose to do with your free time, have fun with it.

But if social media connectivity is going to be considered a form of professional development, it needs to have a higher purpose.

The Point

The point of a PLN, and of any kind of PD we seek for ourselves, is to improve our practice in order to better serve our students.

If that’s not happening, the whole thing is a distraction and a waste of time.

The complete theory of action goes like this:

Connections lead to
professional learning which leads to
improved practice which leads to
better education for our students.

If that chain is broken, shut it down. Log out. Unplug. And go do your job.

When you’re ready to make a change to your practice, plug back in and first look for the ideas you already know about but aren’t implementing.

Implement them. Ask your PLN for help. Share your struggles and your progress.

But don’t go looking for more ideas if it’ll distract you from actually making a change.

Because if you aren’t going to change your practice, you’re not developing professionally, and it’d be better to disconnect and spend more time doing your job (or paying attention to your family, or taking up a soul-nourishing hobby) rather than pretending you’re investing in your growth.

So is Connected Educators’ Month a good thing? Probably. But if you get excited about it (or if you’re trying to get others excited about it), make sure it’s with the right goals in mind.

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About the Author

Justin Baeder helps school administrators increase their productivity through the High-Performance Instructional Leadership Network. Learn More ยป

Leave a Reply 2 comments

Paul Kienlen - October 7, 2013 Reply

Thank you for bringing up a thought-provoking topic. In education, we do seem to like the bells and whistles of all of the new technologies, but if it does not ultimately impact student learning, then all of these millions of dollars spent by taxpayers (like me) are just spent on electronic toys for teachers.

Lesley - October 8, 2013 Reply

Super true. If it becomes about your ego, its not teaching anymore.

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