Monday, October 28, 2013

Get Connected, Build Relationships and Power Positive Change


Today we had the good fortune to participate in professional development with George Couros, Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning with Parkland School Division in Alberta Canada. George shared some of the innovative teaching and learning going on not only in his school district but in schools he visits around the country. He spoke about the importance of changing our mindset regarding teaching and learning; moving from the traditional factory model of education to one where students are full participants in the learning process.  He showcased many examples of  how students are using  technology to create and share content in ways that are personally relevant and transformative in nature.

George impressed upon us the value of building relationships; in order to drive an educational paradigm shift, we must seek connections with others and participate in collegial exchanges. Tools such as Twitter and blogs have helped George build a network of over 40,000 people and have had a great impact on his professional career. Not only does this large network give him a voice to share ideas, engage discussions and affect positive change in education, he is able to connect other educators and encourages them to do the same. The exponential effect allows educators who use social media tools to leverage the power of their professional network to improve pedagogy, collaborate and share resources effectively and efficiently.

To demonstrate the power of being a connected educator, George asked a volunteer to share something for which they frequently seek resources. Our guidance counselor, @planetlhellmer said she is always needing resources to help her with instruction. Typically she has to spend hours combing the internet and reviewing videos and sites for relevance. George sent a request to his twitter network for counselor resources and within a few short minutes he had received 7 or 8 tweets of websites, video sites and other resources that were vetted and recommended by the people who are using them.

Additionally,  George sent out a tweet before lunch welcoming kindergarten teacher @MsBondSGCS to Twitter. He sent her handle to #kinderchat and asked people to follow and retweet to help her build her network. After lunch, Molly came back to see that she had 40 followers.

George has spent years building his enormous network. Although social media as a professional development tool is a new concept for most @SGSAustin, there is an excitement in our faculty and staff that I think we can really build on. Our day with George Couros opened our eyes to the importance of redefining how we prepare our children for success in a high-tech global society and introduced us to a powerful tool that will help us connect with others who are committed to the same.

Connect with George @gcouros on Twitter
Read his blog