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Saturday, October 12, 2013

How Being Connected Can Help Your School

The tweet, sent out on a Thursday, indicated that my elementary school was staging a very large event the very next day. We were not attempting a run of the mill school drill. The largest elementary school in our district was going to rehearse moving 500+ kids (preschool, Special Needs, staff, everyone) over a mile to an alternative location in the case of a large scale disaster. Think meth lab explosion, train derailment (chemical spill), or dog food plant explosion. 

Twitter in not only a personal source of perpetual professional development, but is also a 'place' for me to share what is going on in our classroom, school and district. I had 'discovered' earlier in the week that Twitter was unblocked on our district's network after I opened up my laptop on Monday and Twitter refreshed. It took me a few seconds to process the absence of the standard, "this website is blocked because we don't trust you' boiler plate message that I encounter every once in a while. There was no announcement, the previously blocked site had a sort of soft opening if you will.

I started the conversation with the local news station (an ABC affiliate)  and friend of Room 216, Tom Coomes a Meteorologist with the station. I never thought of picking up a phone or sending an email. Too slow. Besides, I have maintained a relationship with this news station since I was one of their candidates for 'Teacher of the Year' a couple of years ago. The confirmation of the reporter, Amanda Starrantino, and her ETA all done via Twitter. She later posted the story on her Facebook page, which I later shared on our class' page. Great partners!

Actually, I'm very proud of our district's approach of openness and trust with internet resources. The dynamic policy allows teachers and students to balance the freedom of the internet with the obligation to use it appropriately. We don't 'block it and lock it'. Available to teachers and students in my district are resources blocked for many of my virtual colleagues, including YouTube, Pinterest, and now Twitter. My kids and I are fortunate.

(click picture to watch the story)

Having these resources allows me to offer more leaning choices for my kids, opportunities to teach digital citizenship, and have additional communication conduits into my student's homes.

Connected educators can also use these mediums to broadcast the great things taking place in our schools and classrooms. Who knows, you might just land your school the top story on the evening news.

If we don't take an active role in controlling the message surrounding education these days, others will. We all know what that sounds like.

Thanks for reading

Follow me on Twitter @YourKidsTeacher

p.s My kids didn't like the official name of the days drill, so we changed it. And of course, we tweeted it out.

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