The Connected EducatorWhat a whirlwind month it’s been! My book was published and I’ve been traveling quite a bit. One of my favorite stops was for my presentation at the Solution Tree authorspeak2011 conference to kick off the release of my book: The Connected Educator – Learning and leading in a digital age.

Learn all about the book, join a book club, get a free webinar and more

Interview of the Month

Speaking of the launch of the book, I am honored to be Larry Ferlazzo‘s Interview of the Month for November. Larry and I came to know of each other through the Teacher Leaders Network and our mutual colleague John Norton, an education writer and editor who co-founded TLN and has given both of us helpful editorial feedback over the years. Larry has been a high school teacher for over nine years after spending nineteen years working as a community organizer. He is a published author and runs the popular Websites of the Day blog. Larry also blogs at Education Week Teacher.

In this interview, I shared some of my own education backstory and my vision of teaching and learning in the Internet Age. From the interview:

“I wasn’t one of those kids who always wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. In fact, probably the opposite was true. I came from challenging personal circumstances — the sort where schools more often add to the problem than help solve it. I decided to become a teacher, oddly enough, because I was interested in homeschooling my kids and I didn’t want people saying that I wasn’t qualified.

Once I started taking education classes I fell deeply in love with learning, teaching, and the possibility of making the world a better place one kid and classroom at a time. I know that sounds kind of “noble” but I absolutely mean it. I fell in love.”

Read the full post here

Win a signed copy of The Connected Educator

To celebrate the release of the book, I’ll be giving away three signed copies of The Connected Educator – Learning and leading in a digital age. To enter the drawing, leave a comment on this post telling me what you see as the biggest challenge to schools being full of “connected educators”. Comments will remain open through 11:59pm EDT Wednesday, November 30, and I will draw three random winners on Thursday December 1.

Good luck!

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23 Responses to “An interview, plus win a signed copy of The Connected Educator”

  1. Suzanne November 22, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    The biggest challenge to schools being full of “connected educators” is the high-stakes testing climate. It produces teachers who not only feel they need to compete with colleagues to survive, and thus breaking down trust, it also makes most of us feel overwhelmed with covering our curricula that we just don’t have time to connect (even though we know better).

  2. Ben (@engaginged) November 22, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    Sheryl, you are amazing. Thanks for all you do!

    I think the challenges are many…but I think the biggest might be the way training is delivered. Too much “one and done,” too many schools/districts without designated ed tech coaches, too many “workshops” and not enough coaching, too many admins that aren’t tech savvy (or interested in being tech savvy) who are in charge of planning PD, and training that ignores even the most basic principles of adult learning theory.

    Tech integration can be easy (and so fun) but the training has to be delivered the right way. So much talk about “best practices” in teaching, there needs to be more attention to “best practices” in PD.

  3. Pat November 22, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    The biggest challenge I think is getting the support and backing of the administration in order to be connected. This involves allowing time and resources to be used to get connected.

  4. Ann Oro November 23, 2011 at 2:46 am #

    The biggest challenge to being a connected educator is balancing hours at work with family time in the evening. There is everything to gain from being connected, but we need time for the people in our lives, too.

  5. Alfonso Gonzalez November 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    What I see as the biggest challenge is teachers themselves. When offering them training and support and even equipment and pay for their time and they still don’t do it I begin to lose hope. And why don’t they connect when given training, support, equipment, and pay? Two reasons I’ve seen, they either can’t (or won’t) find the time or they can’t (or won’t) overcome their fear or discomfort with tech.

  6. Laura Pilker November 23, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Our biggest challenge at my school is bandwidth! We all want to use streaming video and web 2.0 apps but our school can not (will not?) get us more high speed access.

  7. Kali Kurdy November 24, 2011 at 12:02 am #

    Hi Sheryl,
    I am so excited to get your new book and read it. We are working in Idaho to get teachers up to speed on part of what is available…no one person knows everything teachers could be using. We have a state mandate to offer 2 on-line classes to students before they graduate from high school. Our biggest concern is the hardware. Desktops are almost passe, laptops can be dropped or broken or stolen, notebooks are not very functional for word processing…etc. This is just the first hurdle we are facing. Tech support, bandwidth, inexperience of teachers, list goes on and on.
    Again, congrats on your new book.
    Kali

  8. Jayme Linton November 26, 2011 at 3:03 am #

    One main challenge that keeps educators from being connected is the lack of leaders modeling what it looks like to be connected.

  9. Lori Cullen November 26, 2011 at 3:03 am #

    Hi Sheryl,
    Looking forward to getting a copy of your book. Certainly a relevant topic at the Calgary Board Of Education. http://www.cbe.ab.ca
    Lori Cullen
    Principal

  10. Jason Rubin November 26, 2011 at 3:06 am #

    The biggest challenge to schools being full of “connected educators” is not only the financial support to provide the technology needed, but also to provide the proper instruction and support for the technology in order for teachers and students to be able to use it effectively.

  11. Kim Carter November 26, 2011 at 3:34 am #

    The biggest challenge to schools wanting connected Educators is fear of the Internet. Teachers are told not to engage in social networks by the unions. Parents and students might not like what they see or read. They might not want their child’s picture, video or work posted for others to see. Teachers are afraid of Twitter and Facebook. Bandwidth might also be a concern. At Our place we have only 250 megabits per day and there are six people wanting to be on at the same time. Imagine at at school!
    I look forward to reading your book, will it be an e book too?
    Yours in Science and Technology, Kim

  12. Josh Kunnath November 26, 2011 at 5:13 am #

    In my eyes, the biggest obstacle to ensuring connected educators is the lack of effective communication from those in leadership positions in schools. These leaders must do a better job of communicating what it means to be “connected”, ways in which being connected results in greater student learning, and the “how” in being connected. Of course in order for educational leaders to be effective communicators on this subject, they must first be fully up to speed on all aspects of being “connected”. This in turn could be just as big of an obstacle.

  13. Jenny Lussier November 30, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

    The biggest obstacle to schools being full of connected educators is the time factor. Many of my teachers are very nervous about using technology for themselves, let alone teaching students. They need time to just play around with the technology and get used to it with the proper support. Then teachers will be able to begin to think about how to integrate it into their classrooms and teaching lives. Basic skills are preventing them from trying to use terrific connection tools such as Twitter. If we want our students to develop 21st century skills, then we all need to be modeling them!
    Thank you!
    Jenny

  14. Shelby Guinn December 3, 2011 at 5:26 am #

    Although I am too late for the contest, I still wanted to give my thoughts regarding the biggest challenge to schools being full of “connected educators”. I just recently have jumped into learning about Web 2.0 and it’s place as an educational tool as a part of an online professional development class. Much of our discussion has centered around this very topic.

    In organizing a lesson plan utilizing Web 2.0 collaborative tools for the class, I see that the obstacles are many, the technical shortcomings of the available computers, the shortcomings and comfort of the teacher as well as the students, and the time available.

    As I implemented my plan with my students, it was plain to see that the assumptions that many have regarding them as digital native is overblown. And the troubles that the students had mirrored the ones that have I seen with their teachers as we move towards a more technological environment.

    It is my hope as the schools librarian, that I can continue to be a conduit for my teachers to help in their discomfort and making their transition easier.

  15. Joyleen January 7, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    Many of our digital imigrants who are supervisors and bosses do not see the need to spend money on new technology. Some see it as a waste. How do we change their attitudes. Perhaps students will…

  16. Kevin January 14, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    The biggest challenge to schools today is the multitude of information/skills that they educators are expected to be knowledgeable of, tested on and evaluated from. For example, educators are expected to be familiar with the Common Core curriculum while being experts in 21st Century Instruction while students are being assessed with standardized 20th Century multiple choice assessments. Not a healthy combination when you combine this with the variety of educator (classroom and administrator) experience, lack of professional development funds to assure that everyone is on the same page and political pressure to be successful immediately, as measured by an antiquated testing process. I would love to see the CEO of any business take on this challenge given parameters that our school systems are given.

    • Simon January 26, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

      I agree, the crowded curriculum is a nightmare. There simply is too much to do and if being connected isn’t your passion, there is no time for it.

  17. Sue Maloney January 14, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    It seems we have the hardware, the bandwidth, the energy, but not the time to connect with professionals beyond–or even within–our building. I’m sure of, but not very articulate about the need for, and value of, spending some of our valuable PD time developing and sharing PLNs. I’m looking forward to reading and learning from your book!

  18. Simon January 26, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    I think there are a number of people who choose not to be connected, despite it’s importance. It becomes a cycle, they don’t connect so they don’t get to read the amazing stuff that’s out there and interact with the amazing people that are around so they continue to miss the value of it. Conversely being connected just makes you realize how important it is to be connected. It’s up to us connected people to bring the non-connected people in. As a new principal this year I am in a prime position and relish the opportunity of doing just that! Thanks to Sheryl and everyone else for the continued inspiration.

  19. Tony February 14, 2012 at 4:36 am #

    Biggest challenge…professional development to help teachers understand and actually plan for the use of these technologies in their own learning networks as well as in their classes.

  20. Bill February 14, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    When I recently asked a group of teachers what prevented them from being connected with their students and each other a majority of the respondents indicated that web filters and bandwidth issues made it not worthwhile to take a chance and try something new as they have been tripped up before. Professional development is needed not only for teachers in the use of technologies but also professional development for technology administrators to understand how and why technologies are useful to teachers and their students.

  21. Brett March 4, 2012 at 4:10 am #

    The greatest obstacle preventing our educators from being connected is tradition. Traditional methodology and traditional importance of standardized tests prevent educators from expanding their classroom beyond the walls of the physical school. As a Social Studies educator, I personally cannot wait for our states release of the 21st century standards to shift the required standards from content to experiences.

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