I’m a teacher. Though I no longer spend each day in a school or on a campus, I started my career in the classroom. And, it will surprise no educator to know that I’ve also logged a lot of time on the playground, in the cafeteria and administrative offices, as well as in the teachers’ lounge. It’s in places like these that I really connected with my colleagues, sharing ideas, strategizing about challenges, and offering support.
In fact, the element I love most about my current role is that I still get to connect. Every day, I speak with educators and administrators, who come from all types of settings—from small, rural school districts to sprawling university campuses—to share challenges, ideas, and best practices for integrating technology to empower and engage educators and learners.
Educating the educator: building a professional learning network
Not surprisingly, common themes often arise in these conversations, whether I’m talking with a middle school teacher, college professor, or institution administrator. For example, a year or so ago many cited this challenge: we have more technology in our classrooms than ever before; how can we be confident that we’re using this technology to innovate to truly change teaching and learning? (For further thoughts about this question, read this great blog post, which features insights from Dr. Sonny Magana, the founder of Magana Education.)
Help came in the form of the Cisco Connected Educator program, which provides a professional learning network and a series of badges for educators who learn to use technology to connect and engage students. Developed in collaboration with the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration, Cisco Connected Educator has enabled educators to provide interactive learning experiences for their students and engage with colleagues in learning communities to share collaborative teaching best practices.
The safer schools connection
Fast forward to today’s conversations, where another common theme has emerged: what role can Connected Educators play in creating safer teaching and learning environments?
Schools face complex security risks and need to ensure both physical and cybersecurity. General anxiety about school safety can erode both student and educator engagement. We know that edtech must extend to all areas of the campus! Through professional development initiatives like Cisco Connected Educator, teachers, professors, and administrators gain a unique understanding of technology and the role it can play in the classroom and beyond. Policies and practices identifying who should have access to a building or sending an alert in the event of an incident, for example, whether it’s a fight in the cafeteria, an accident in the drop-off lane, a torrential rain storm, a cyberbreach, or more, are tasks that are vital in today’s school environments.
Connected Educators use technology daily to foster collaborative learning and connections—between them and their students, with colleagues and parents, and among students. They act as ambassadors in their schools, sharing the benefits of technology and the best practices they’ve learned, enhancing community and helping to equip everyone to be safer.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Connected Educator and safer schools. Please share your ideas in the comments!