Evidence of Learning Two
Below is a reflection on my teaching career with regards to my engagement in Learning Communities. I feel that this is an area in which I have substantially increased following my involvement at ADE Academy as I gained connections from around the country, and around the world, and have used those connections to further innovation in my classroom.
Over the last seven years of my teaching career, my role as a member of learning communities has changed drastically.
If you’d asked me about my role in learning communities in my first year as a teacher, I would have shared that I was part of a new teacher community which met monthly to discuss first-year teacher concerns and support each other. This community was incredibly helpful as a first-year teacher, and when my principal asked me to join our district’s technology committee, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. District Technology Committee provided me a forum within our district to not only be aware of up-and-coming ideas in technology, but also to use my voice to advocate for technology for our students.
In 2014, I entered a master’s program which specifically focused on professional development. In fact, my Master’s in Education-Professional Development gave me a cohort, my learning community, with which to discuss experiences, learn from each other, and master our understanding of best practices not only in the classroom, but also when leading professional development. After completing this program, my confidence in contributing in learning communities grew, and I would often share my knowledge and opinions within my district.
Throughout my teaching career, social media learning communities have been a part of the picture, though my use of them has varied significantly. As an early teacher, I communicated with teachers who were primarily former university peers as we all navigated our first years of teaching. We shared ideas on Facebook and Pinterest, and connected with other teachers from locations around Wisconsin. In my third year teaching, my district began strongly encouraging the use of social media to connect with families and the community, after parents responded in a survey that they’d rather get information that way than via email, letters or phone calls. I created a school Facebook page and assisted others in doing this for their classrooms as well. While this may not seem like a learning community, it quickly became one as teachers shared what they were doing and we all began learning from each other, collaborating more often, and finding new connections to make for our students.
In 2017, after becoming an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE), I gained an online learning community of ADEs. This community is a place for us to post projects we are working on, status updates, and blog entries that help us to gain new insights from ADEs around the world.
After becoming an ADE and joining the ADE community, peers strongly suggested that I become more active on Twitter to use for online technology in education chats. While at first I was hesitant, as I felt I already had enough of a social media presence to manage, I decided to give it a try. Beginning to use Twitter in this way was absolutely transformative. I was able to make connections with my new ADE peers from around the country, and began participating in chats. After about six months of participating, I was invited by a fellow ADE to co-host an #AppleEDUchat about sketch notes, and I was thrilled to co-host only the third of the redesigned #AppleEDUchats. This chat on sketch notes helped me to form connections with ADEs around the country, and later this year, I even hosted a second chat in which I brought a new ADE on-board to co-host a chat on creativity with Clips with me.
Using Twitter has reignited my excitement for trying new things in my classroom. As a tech leader in my district, I was often doing more show-and-tell when it came to technology, and less learning, as I was among the more experienced of teachers when it came to technology. Twitter literally opened up a whole new world of possibilities in which I could learn from others who in some cases were using the exact same tools to do hundreds of different things. This has helped me to further re-shape the way that I use technology in my classroom.
Becoming a part of the Twitter learning community also helped me to further connect to ADEs and teachers around the country. It led me to being asked to present at a conference in Indiana where I was able to help teachers at the beginning stages of implementing technology 1:1 in their schools. It later led me to be asked to present at iEngage Midwest, a conference held in Chicago each year for educational technology. Twitter has also helped me to stay connected with other teachers to whom I have presented. After presenting at the Western Wisconsin Education Conference, Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Conference, TIES Minnesota, the International Society for Technology in Education International Conference, and LETS-GO Wisconsin Symposium I have been able to answer questions and see the ideas and information shared with teachers come to life.
Reflecting back on my involvement in learning communities excites me for the future. At each stage of my career mentioned above, I felt a strong connection to the teachers around me. Now looking back, I realize just how far my learning communities have expanded, from a first-year teacher with wide-eyed ideas that I shared with fellow new-teachers, to a global community of educators that I connect with on a regular basis. I am excited to see how these connections grow and change throughout the future and help me to become the best educator I can be, so that my students will grow to be reflective, collaborative and creative contributors to our future global society.
Annotated List of Learning Communities:
facebook.com/HamSOTA • School District Art Page
bethanymarieexpressions.yolasite.com • Personal Blog/Website
Apple Distinguished Educator Online Community (private)
Twitter chats: #AppleEDUchat
#ADE17 and #ADE18
Member; International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
Member, Wisconsin Art Education Association
Apple Distinguished Educator