One mistake I made early in my career was having an attitude of isolation. I often focused on my classes and what I needed to accomplish with my students. I did not do a great deal of collaborating on ideas with others. While I did discuss students with other teachers to better understand what they were doing to handle certain behavior issues with a student we shared, I did not talk to others about activities, projects, or teaching approaches.
This left me very frustrated as I spent a great deal of my free time researching tools I could use and different teaching approaches that would make my classes more enjoyable or at least a little different so students would not get board with the same style day in and day out. This frustration led me to become a Technology Coach. I always thought that having someone I could ask for assistance would be amazing and more useful than any other resource a school or district could provide.
Now that I have abandoned the isolationist mindset I have been able to grow as an educator at a much faster pace. In fact, I know there are thousands of things I have learned that I have not acted upon because I just don't have the time to use every great resource I have come across. Now I find my self hungry for more. I want to go to more conferences, participate in more Twitter and Voxer chats, and grow my learning community so it includes educators from around the world.
Recently I have been able to participate in a couple of educator cohorts that have been fantastic. The first is a group specified for digital leadership called the North Carolina Digital Leadership Coaching Network (NCDLCN). This is hosted by the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. The goal is to support Technology Facilitators, Media Specialists, and Teacher Leaders. So far I have spent two productive days with this cohort and I am scheduled to attend more sessions with them throughout the year.
I was also fortunate enough to spend a long three day weekend in another cohort, North Carolina Phi Delta Kappa (NCPDK), for an emerging leaders program. This cohort was made up of administrators, coaches, and teachers who are emerging leaders in education. This group only meets once, but we have been able to create social media groups to help us stay connected.
For both of these experiences, the best part is the connections made with other educators from different districts. I can follow them on Twitter, create Voxer groups, or just email them. The lessons I have learned from the people I am now connected with is astonishing. The one thing I have learned through these experiences would be that the more people you can connect with the more you can grow. I hope I am able to have many more experiences like these.