Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

What Connected Educators Do Differently

Yesterday was another great day of learning - this time in Libertyville at #EdCampChicago.

I tried to listen more than talk (well, in the sessions, at least!), and I met many new faces to add to my personal learning network. I learn so much from passionate educators everyday, because I'm a connected educator.

One comment, from a teacher I haven't seen in (as she let me know) about seven years, really irked me, and has stayed with me until I felt like I needed to write about it.

She said, "I didn't know you were so techie."
     (Is it spelled "techy?" I don't know how to spell this one...)

I scoffed and told her I'm not really "techie." I just learn what I need to know in order to teach well, I explained. I've heard this before, and it's never really gotten to me, but coming from her, it left a bad taste in my mouth. I've spent the morning wondering why.

My life has been rearranged the last six years. No - scratch that. I have rearranged my life on my own terms - it didn't just happen to me. Becoming Joy "Kirr" was a new start for me. In 2009 I moved out of my soon-to-be-ex-husband's house and went to live with my sister and her two 3-year olds. In 2010, I purchased my own house in the neighborhood where my mom always thought would be great for me. In 2011, my soul mate married me, retired, and moved into this house that is just perfect for the two of us. That August I got on Twitter, and let the account sit dormant. That November I was chosen to pilot 1-to-1 iPads for a month for a unit in ELA class. That January I received an iPad to use (compensation for the pilot), and in February learned from Ewan McIntosh about hash tags on Twitter. Joy Kirr did a lot of soul-searching before getting active on Twitter. Then she did a TON of learning, and hasn't stopped. I realized that this woman doesn't know Joy Kirr. She only saw a glimpse of what I do.

Yes. I know some tech. I tweet, blog, curate, create resources, collaborate on resources, present, and share. I even have a huge spreadsheet of tools for teachers that I created my first summer on Twitter and add to each month. I learn, practice and model what I feel I must in order to be the best I can for students. Many teachers do this. I don't consider myself "techie."

Yes, I was the one with the idea to create documents ahead of time for participants to edit, so not everyone has to have editing rights to the EdCamp schedule. I think it was this fact that Shawn McCusker pointed out that led this teacher to believe I was "techie." Here are all the sessions, by the way. ;) This, however, I see as thinking outside of the box... thinking of an effective solution to a common problem. I work at solving problems, like a lot of educators who want things to work smoothly.

I learn.
I care.
I try to do what's best.
I share - the good, the bad, and the ugly...
                    if it helps me and others to learn.

I do what connected educators do, and it's often technology that helps me do what I feel I must do.

And although the adjective is not a negative one by any means, I do not consider myself "techie." Since this woman has known me (and really... we didn't really know each other at all!), I've become connected to thousands of other educators.

I am a connected educator, 
                                   and proud of it.

If you are wondering about the myriad benefits of becoming connected, check out What Connected Educators Do Differently by Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul, and Jimmy Casas. (I've met Jeff & Jimmy - such passionate connected educators!) If you are new to being connected and don't want to be too overwhelmed, consider starting at chapter five - the first few chapters are full of great ideas that might seem to hefty at first for you! Jump around, dip your toes in, and enjoy the journey that comes from being a connected educator. Your students will thank you!

Thank you to all those who make EdCamps a success - it has truly spoiled other professional development for me, Shawn!

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