The Bread Crumb Trail: Power of a PLN

It was one of those serendipitous moments when the connections fall into place.

I was at one of our new teacher training session on assessment on Thursday. As we were wandering around checking in I was able to reconnect with a colleague. As she was sharing about finishing up the STEAM LABS educator boot camp that we had chatted about before, I shared the Design Thinking for Leading and Learning MOOC. Then the question came: “How did you find out about it?”

The question has been posed many times and more often than not it is always comes back to amazing colleagues willing to share.

I could see the bread crumb trail that led us to the Design Thinking for Leading and Learning MOOC.

  • Going back a step to Mary sharing it in an email and tweet to the #launchbookchat folks.
  • Stepping back once more to when we first met Mary through the Twitter Chats looking at Launch. I think she found us from the official hashtag for the book. We never thought we would have someone join us from the states.
  • The bread crumbs kept leading to the crew that was willing to chat about a book (there is always a fear that no one will be interested).
  • Finally I could see the beginning, chatting after our sunrise meeting with a few colleagues that got the book saying would you be interested in a book chat.

It’s amazing when you take a moment and look back at all the connections, people and moments that are part of one single learning moment. All it took was one small share and then another and then another…

Time to drop some bread crumbs. 




The Blue Sweater: Connections Unseen

I often have the privilege of beautiful scenic drives (not kidding here) between my school visits and they have become moments of reflection. Blue skies, fall leaves and top 40 hits seem to create the perfect environment for some contemplation.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 7.03.58 AMLast week after chatting with a colleague about the wonderful way an app like Word Swag can spread from one person to another I was driving along and reminded of a scene from the Devil Wears Prada. Unlikely place for an AHA moment about education but please bear with me. You can watch the scene here, but here is the messy quick summary. Anne Hathaway’s character is standing back observing the team composing outfits when what seems to be two identical coloured belts are presented. Anne Hathaway’s character snarks at the comment that they can be so different at which point Meryl Streep’s character schools her in the many connections that landed to the exact cerulean blue sweater she is wearing, naming the runway shows, designer choices and the path that lead to her department store purchase.

It made me think of education. I don’t know if we always notice the many connections alive in our schools. From the Pinterest idea that got passed along, to the great book recommendation, the youtube clip you just watched in PD or the app that a teacher got from a child. It may be an administrator that is bringing it back from a system event or a teacher that has hunted for that perfect prompt to engage her math class. Our daily actions have been influenced by the connections of our students, our colleagues, our leaders for years. They lurk behind every activity and task whether we are blissfully unaware like Anne Hathaway’s character or immersed like Meryl Streep.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 7.26.46 AMAs many this month are celebrating Connected Educators Month, I have been reading great posts about why we should connect, the woes of being too connected or the many different tools we now have available to connect. At times it can be overwhelming. It seems like we are tourists in a place where they all speak a different language. I was reminded that perhaps we need to demystify it a little. The starting lines have already been drawn for you. You are a connected educator. The question isn’t whether you will be connected or not, will you sit back like Anne Hathaway or create those connections like Meryl Streep. What lines will you draw? It doesn’t need to be high tech (although today’s tools make it so much easier), it doesn’t need to polished or grand. It may be a conversation with a colleague, a post on Instagram, or a new Twitter chat but remember you have been in this world for a long time. Time to dip in your toes a little, splash around and let the cerulean sweater be your reminder that you are already a connected educator.

P.S. I know what you are telling yourself: “But what could I share?” I ask myself the same thing all the time. A smart person once reminded me what is obvious to us may be just that spark for another. Click HERE!

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear them. Leave a comment below.