From Lone Wolf to Hunting with the Pack - becoming a globally connected educator http://t.co/LlB2Uz9tZq what’s your story?
— Craig Kemp (@mrkempnz) August 9, 2014
Working as a teacher can be a lonely and somewhat insular occupation if you are not careful. Whether you work in a school, a university, full time, part time or freelance you are assuming a role that puts you under the spotlight and your learners have expectations of you. Over a 30 year career I have worked in a variety of contexts with different age groups from under 10's to over 50's, one to one to one to many, responsible at some periods for the language learning of over 1,000 learners a year. I think I have a reasonable understanding of a range of learner expectations. I have definitely not "seen it all" and I learn more each year from my learners who now tend to be international students following an accelerated learning pathway to French in Higher Education. I am a co-learner with them as we explore the world of resources available to us thanks to the internet and computer-mediated communication (CMC). I try to contribute to my communities, both local and global.
My PLN, (here's a Top Trumps I did a while back) gathered gradually over more than 5 years through interaction online, lots or reading and great networks of professionals, have broadened my outlook, inspired me to examine my assumptions more closely, to engage with debates central to my chosen career path, and to grow as an educator. Blogging and micro-blogging have helped make explicit the ruminations and half thought through ideas, reflecting and connecting in order to better understand where I stand (split infinitives are OK BTW) . Participating in synchronous and asynchronous CMC has taken me beyond the boundaries of my classroom experiences and those of my immediate colleagues into global interactions and contexts, beyond the UK and Europe. I collaborate with teachers in Australia,the US and around the world in #globalclassroom chats, extend my student connections through the #clavier virtual exchange, and explore the potential for language learning CPD through informal online networks. I have developed my use of technology for teaching, gaining a professional qualification in learning technology through the ALT CMALT scheme and now I research and publish in CMC for language learning and the emerging area of Online Intercultural Exchange (#OIE).
I had no idea where my early tweets would lead. I followed my head and my heart and found a world of inspiration digitally enabled just a keyboard away. My students and I are the richer for it, my CPD is constant and relevant, my learning lifelong and lifewide. Connecting globally allows us to rise above the immediate, often political nature of our national context and focus on the real issues in education. We need to support the next generation as they discover the realities of sharing the planet and meeting the needs of humanity in challenging times. We promote mutual understanding, communication skills, empathy, openness and creativity. Going global has helped to reignite my passion for education.