Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Connected Educator Story

Good evening!
Before Connected Educator Month ends, I would like to share the many ways that Twitter has impacted my professional growth over the past almost five years.

As recent as early 2009, I was making a great effort to use the available technology to create a go-to website for my students. In fact, I had set up a Wikispaces account back in 2006, but was really unclear on its possibilities and design features. Sadly, I was limited to the school's platform for class web pages.  That was not appealing to my creative side! It was also hard to deal with the fact that I was very isolated as the only French teacher in my school.  So, in an effort to become better connected, I reached out to our national language organization for an "e-mail mentor," and received some helpful tips. Communication was not very quick, however, like I would have preferred.

It was during spring break of 2009 that I was first introduced to Twitter in a coffee shop in Loveland, Colorado.  Fortunately, the snow that had trapped my friends and I in their house for a few days melted enough for me to go have a coffee with Madame Toni Theisen, who became a wonderful French-teacher mentor to me! She showed me her tweets and all of the tech tools she discovered as a result of her interactions on Twitter. I was still not totally convinced, but since I'm always willing to try new things, I set up an account while keeping warm in my dear friends'  Colorado home. It turns out, it took me about one short week to see the value of Twitter.  My professional growth has been TREMENDOUS as a result of the connections I've made. (Humorous little side note:  My first handle was @jmlesoleil, which is somewhat abbreviated French for "I love the sun." That Colorado winter was a frigid shock to my system after being in South Carolina for so long!)
Thanks to Twitter, I....

-learned how to build a class website with Wikispaces. ...and the rest (of my tech learning) is history!
-created a reading resource wiki for French teachers.
-won an iPod from the state language association of Oklahoma. (I was automatically entered in a drawing for tweeting/retweeting during their conference. I was participating from South Carolina.)
-made a connection with a French teacher and her students in New Zealand. While some students skyped, others wrote short messages with an old chatting tool called Etherpad(?) Oh, memories!
-engaged my learners in an Edmodo and Skype project for one year with a teacher in Paris.
-connected my learners with local and Parisian university students via Twitter. (We are on year three now, but have moved on to Instagram.)
-was invited to serve as a co-moderator of the weekly language chat (#langchat), and have participated in that capacity for about one year now.
-was interviewed for an article on social media by a reporter from the national language teachers' association. (The Language Educator, February 2012 : )
-attended and led a session at my first EdCamp.  It was South Carolina's first event of its kind!
-reviewed a chapter of an AP textbook before publication.
-was chosen by a valued member of my PLN, Patrick Larkin (@patrickmlarkin), to be profiled on his blog for connected educator month (October 6, 2013):
-was invited to guest blog for Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal), another valued member of my PLN:
Twitter has also enabled me to...
-meet members of my PLN in person at conferences or in places like Montréal, Canada.  :)
-present at local, state, and national conferences.
-collaborate with teachers all over the world.
-benefit from priceless, 24/7 interaction with educators all over the world.
-bring back ideas to the classroom. It's all about the students, after all!
There are probably other noteworthy things that have happened as a result of my Twitter interactions, so edits to this post are likely. One thing is certain:  there will be more great learning, networking, and collaborating to come!

What about you? How has social media enriched your professional life?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments.  

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