There’s never been a more exciting time to be an educator! Thanks to technology, we live in an interconnected world that gives us immediate access to whatever we’re looking for. In this “world without borders,” educators have a wealth of learning at their fingertips.
We can find lesson plans, interact with peers around the world, enroll in online courses, register for free webinars, watch tutorials and find new tools to deliver lessons in engaging ways.
Since 1982, I’ve been a K-5 computer science, math, Spanish and social studies teacher at the Uruguayan American School. Although I access many networks, Twitter is the channel that has opened the biggest window of opportunity for me. It’s helped me broaden my professional learning network, allowing me to become a global educator and connect with international colleagues, organizations and education media.
In fact, Twitter has become a PD habit for me. In just 10 to 20 minutes a day, I can connect with colleagues and other education experts to learn something new. I found out about ISTE and the ISTE conference on Twitter, leading me to become the first Uruguayan teacher to attend the conference where I discovered that, thanks to social media, I already had some amazing connections.
Attending my first ISTE conference was a turning point in my career. I returned to Uruguay and put what I had learned into practice, and I began to implement the ISTE Standards. I entered contests I heard about at the conference and earned scholarships to learn with other educators in Canada and Hungary.
I became not just an educator, but a global educator who learns from and with the best and brightest educators around the world. You can do this, too. Here’s how to get started:
1. Jump in!
Identify a project, channel your energy and work toward your goal. Achieving your career dreams starts with a desire to learn more, refresh your practice and do better.
Leave your comfort zone. Be willing to face new challenges and listen to others’ ideas. Explore alternate paths, and don’t be afraid to change your mind about something you thought you knew. That’s where the learning happens.
2. Ditch your assumptions.
Connect with other educators to hear how they’re handling challenges similar to those you’re facing in the classroom. Their big ideas might just change your thinking.
3. Encourage others.
Share your ideas and your enthusiasm – in your own school, on social media and at in-person events. Even if you make only a single significant connection, it will be the beginning of a great learning adventure!
Global educators don’t just inspire each other. They inspire their students, who are also global learners. Today’s students are comfortable with networks and smartphones, and have been adept tech users from an early age. They follow influencers and enjoy the latest internet novelty. But they’ll also face huge technology challenges.
Technologies like artificial intelligence will drastically change their work environments. They’ll need highly specialized technical skills to qualify for the jobs of the future. That’s why teachers from around the globe must work together to stay current and share best practices.
Sylvia Fojo is a K-5 computer science, math, spanish and social studies teacher at the Uruguayan American School in Montevideo, Uruguay. Follow her on Twitter @fojosylvia. This is an updated version of a post that originally published on Sept. 25, 2019.