I love October. It is a month of many of my favorites…Connected Educator Month…Dyslexia Awareness Month….Breast Cancer Awareness Month…oh and my birthday falls at the end of the month, but with a snowstorm and hurricane over the last two years during that, I will ignore that fun.
I love being a Connected Educator and a teacher of students with Dyslexia. The role of technology with learning disabled students is exciting. I largely began this blog to document my road to learning through being connected. My connections, my PLN have helped me grow so much in my role as a technology resource in my building. I see as my colleagues connect through various tools such as @Pinterest and @Twitter. Wherever they connect, they are growing as educators.
But what about students…how do we help students connect? This past weekend I spent with 31 students and 3 other of our staff on a weekend trip to work on team building with middle school aged students. The goal…to make them connected. It is an interesting weekend because our goal with today’s learners on this trip, is to connect them without technology.
Technology can be seen as a blocker of real life connection. I experienced students in tears this past weekend because they were without their xbox, wifi, and constant connection…. It gave me a lot of thought. I am a connected person…over connected in many people’s opinions…but I enjoy time away from tech. I enjoy connecting with the real world, with those that matter most. How do I help students experience the same? Do students need to be taught person to person connection in this cloud based world?
Connections are key…for teachers and for students…how those are made are determined with their relevance and importance is a key point. Some connections via long distance can be engaging and purposeful; however, what they give the receiver are to be closely examined. Is the connection providing knowledge? Engagement to a purpose? Or a false sense of familiarity? We as adults seemingly know better how to navigate those thoughts…but what about our students? They think the follower, the connection, the liker is their BFF. We need to guide their understanding of online relationships vs face to face relationships. They need to be taught to engage with those in their presence more than those a tweet, a pic, a hangout, an online connection away.
This past weekend, I saw students with no connection to reach, finding those around them, participating in games,enjoying the animals at the farm, enjoying silly laughter with peers…but also saw students who truly teared up with no connection, who did not know how to engage face to face and enjoy the silliness of some of the activities. Those are the students that I want to reach..yes me as a tech lover, I want those students to disconnect with enjoyment.
It is funny that I love disconnecting as much as I love connecting. I want to and need to instill this in all students. Connections are good, they are growing experiences, but they don’t all need to be in the cloud. The best connections can be the person right next to you, in the classroom next door, in the desk next to you…they can be virtual or face to face, and both are equally crucial and valuable.
Let’s connect and disconnect our students.