Ed Tech

Sheldon Cooper, Barney Stinson, Elsa and Connected Educator Month

Barney Stinson had a blog. Elsa of Arendelle needed a PLN for support. Being a connected educator matters. Just ask these characters. (Sketch by Matt Miller)

Barney Stinson had a blog. Elsa of Arendelle needed a PLN for support. Being a connected educator matters. Just ask these characters. (Sketch by Matt Miller)

October is Connected Educator Month. There are tons of resources to help teachers get connected to each other, learn about topics of interest, and get the support they need.

Being a connected educator, personally, has changed my life. Just a few years ago, I was an isolated high school Spanish teacher — the only one in his district — with very little to turn to for inspiration or ideas. I plugged into Twitter first and found some communities that helped me grow. I started this blog to share things I was learning and experiences from my classroom. Today, I am a much better teacher, not because of what I’ve done but because of the ideas I’ve found and the people I’ve met.

But don’t let me tell you why being a connected educator is so important.

Let Sheldon Cooper tell you.

And Doogie Howser, M.D. And Gregory House, M.D.

The lives of these six TV and movie characters show us some great lessons on why we should get plugged in to people and resources online. (And while you’re reading them, be thinking of your own character and lesson learned to add in the comments below!)

Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory)

Sheldon is a genius, is a bit quirky (OK, that may be an understatement) and has no social skills. But he has very specialized interests, including comic books, games of all kinds, and science fiction. There are lots of people just like him, and it could change his life if he got plugged into the right group of them.

Connected educator lesson: Get plugged into a community of like-minded people, like a Twitter hashtag or a Google Plus community, to share your expertise and learn from others.

Doogie Howser (Doogie Howser, M.D.)

Doogie was an excellent connected doctor — without the connection. The kid journaled about his life as a doctor. What he really needed was a blog. His unique perspective would have been widely read, and think of what other doctors could have learned from it.

Connected educator lesson: Don’t feel like you don’t have anything unique to add to the conversation. Each person has experiences that can be shared with others.

Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother)

Barney already had a blog, which imparted wisdom on how to live an awesome life (at least, in his mind). Writing a blog like his really wasn’t the norm, but he jumped in anyway and helped a lot of guys; they popped up in the show regularly to thank him. (Bonus points for two Neil Patrick Harris references in a row?)

Connected educator lesson: Just jump in. Don’t let the fear of not knowing every last detail paralyze you from trying something new.

(Do you have your own character to add in the comments yet? Keep thinking …)

Elsa of Arendelle (Frozen)

Elsa had a series of unprecedented bad days. She let her secret about her ice powers slip. She banished herself to a castle in the wilderness. She almost killed her sister multiple times. What she really could have used was a support system. If she didn’t think her life was over after all of those unfortunate incidents, the story might have played out very differently.

Connected educator lesson: Professional learning networks can provide the assurance and support we can lean on through tough times.

Gregory House (House, M.D.)

House was a brilliant doctor that could make a diagnosis of a difficult case in a moment of quick inspiration. (You knew he had solved the puzzle when he stopped and got that look on his face.) His methods were nothing traditional, but that’s what made him great.

Connected educator lesson: What’s best for you doesn’t have to be what everyone else has done. Blaze your own trail. Find educators that have done that to inspire you on social media and in blogs. (And write about your own experience there, too!)

Dwight Schrute (The Office)

Dwight, the eccentric paper salesman/beet farmer, was very successful even though he was misunderstood. He was often the top salesman at the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin and kept the family farm afloat. If Dwight was a teacher, he would have loved edcamps. Well, he would have loved to lead sessions at edcamps, at least. In a way, he was a leader and wanted to help others succeed.

Connected educator lesson: Attend an edcamp. You’ll meet other educators there, can pick the topics you want to learn about, and even lead a session on something you know a lot about.

OK, now it’s your turn! Which character and lesson learned could be added to this list? I can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with!

(For notifications of new Ditch That Textbook content and helpful links, “like” Ditch That Textbook on Facebook and follow @jmattmiller on Twitter!)

Interested in having Matt present at your event or school? Contact him by e-mail!

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