Connected Educators Radio: Three Big Changes for Connected Educator Month 2014

BAM Radio

We have started a BAM radio station that will feature connected goodness throughout the year called Connected Educators Radio. Our big launch is coinciding with the lead up to Connected Educator Month (CEM) in October. Join us for interviews, policy updates, connected learning news, highlights and the latest on CEM and much more. We will continue the show throughout the year after CEM starts to wind down and would love to hear in the comments below what you think we should talk about next. Also, if you have some radio worthy news we should be sharing around connected learning let us know in the comments. We want to feature all the great work you are doing to help schools and organizations get connected.

You can listen through iTunes and and check out our other shows on the Bam Radio Website. 

Your show hosts: Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Tom de Boor, Darren Cambridge

pic Connected Educator Month is coming, but it will be very different in three significant ways this year. Tune in to learn more. Be sure and follow our #CE14 tag for the latest on Connected Educator Month 2014

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Announcing CEM 2014!


Millions of educators and others around the world have participated in hundreds of professional development opportunities as part of Connected Educator Month (CEM) the last two years. Originally developed by the U.S. Department of Education and its partners as part of the Connected Educators initiative, Connected Educator Month offers highly distributed, diverse and engaging activities to educators at all levels, with the ultimate goal of getting more educators more connected, spurring collaboration and innovation in the space.

Based on its success in 2012 and 2013, the initiative is poised to reach even more educators in 2014 through expanded partnerships and enhanced programming. To help CEM continue to scale, the US Department of Education is distributing the event’s management out to the connected community, led by the American Institutes of Research (AIR), Digital Promise (DP), Grunwald Associates (GA), and Powerful Learning Practice (PLP). This core team will further push out leadership for elements of the celebration to other groups, and empower individual educators to take ownership in a variety of ways as well.

ce14 announce

Some of the other key ways we are hoping to build on CEM 2013’s success in 2014 (based on participant feedback, and general trends) include:

  • Making the event more fully global, to better incorporate learnings from around the world, supporting multiple countries in the development of full event slates as part of the celebration.

  • Making the event more fully mobile and blended, in reflection of the trends in educational practice and use.

  • A greater emphasis on collaboration and capacity-building in our planning, tools, and activities, as the logical next step beyond connection, and to address participants’ desire for a more action-oriented approach (led by the National Center for Literacy Education)

  • Launching a series of ongoing connected education initiatives during the month (our own and others) to keep momentum building throughout the year, as well as developing more year-round resources (like 2013’s district toolkit).

  • More events/activities that pull in other education stakeholders–parents, students, whole school communities, policymakers–to magnify the event’s creative impact.

  • Enhancements to features and programming to keep the event fully accessible as it continues to grow.

Thanks to infrastructure built in 2012-13, we’ve also got a lot more “runway” this year to work with participating organizations and individuals on event/activity development than ever before.

Funding The Event

CEM By The Numbers

Highlights of the 2013 event included:

  • 300+ major education organizations officially participating
  • 600+ national events and activities (many more local)
  • 1 million+ pages, other locations referencing, promoting or discussing the event
  • 14 million+ reached on Twitter alone

We need your help. Representatives from AIR (Darren Cambridge, Marshal Conley), GA (Peter Grunwald, Tom de Boor), PLP (Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach), and others will be raising funds and reaching out for your support and collective ownership of the effort this year.

The original intent of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) was to fund CEM for one year, then turn it over to the community.  As the event has grown, it’s become increasingly clear CEM’s community-driven growth path includes directions that ED is constrained by policy from supporting, e.g. a strong emphasis on global participation.  The department will continue to be part of the core team developing the event, recruiting organizations to the cause, fostering collaborative events & activities, promoting it through all vehicles it has available, and participating at the highest levels (in 2013, the White House and President were involved). But with 14+ million reached in last year’s celebration, ED feels CEM is ready to be sustainably turned over to the community as originally planned.

As a result, we’re seeking funding and in-kind contributions from other sources, with ED’s blessing and support, providing a rare opportunity for close, visible association with–and an opportunity to impact–a highly successful and appreciated, increasingly international month-long online educational event that has grown rapidly year-over-year, with the potential to spread its reach and impact year-round.  More generally, this year’s event will provide a variety of new ways for organizations to get involved.

To get regular updates on all the latest CEM developments subscribe to our blogsign up for the CEM newsletter, or check in with Connected Educator Radio. For more information on CEM, see our reports on the 2012 and 2013 events, and/or this post by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan…

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Help Us Get the Word Out at ISTE

ISTE & CEM Meetup

We’re going to be out in force at ISTE later this week and early next, and look forward to seeing many of you there. CEM has ‘always’ been, appropriately enough, a strong grassroots presence at ISTE, and this year will be no different. We hope you will help us get the word out that Connected Educator Month 2014 is a go!

You can also connect with us directly – Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Marshal Conley, and Darren Cambridge will all be at ISTE (Tom de Boor will be minding the CEM store).

Let us know if you are willing to help us spread the CEM word at ISTE2014 and beyond!

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Join Us at ISTE 2014 for CEM Meet-Up

ce14 announceThe annual ISTE Conference is right around the corner (next week) and we hope to see you there! In fact, why not join us for the Connected Educator Month (CEM) MEET-UP where we will not only make the formal announcement about this year’s CEM 2014 but will be handing out free CEM t-shirts and the highly sought after Connected Educator ribbons.

Our CEM 2014 Meet-Up is taking place on Monday, June 30 at 1pm ET in the PLN Lounge on the 3rd floor of the conference center. Marshal Conley (AIR), Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach (PLP) and Darren Cambridge (NCTE) will be sharing all about this year’s event (what is different, what is new, and what we hope to keep from previous year’s programming) as well as engaging you in conversations about what you think we should do this year. Bring your best ideas and join us. We need you!

So make your plans now to attend the CEM 2014 Meet-Up in the PLN Lounge to find out how you, your school, or your organization can get involved in Connected Educator Month 2014.



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Making it Count, Weeks 2 & 3

Integrating formal and informal learning has continued as an underlying theme in many of the activities, events, and resources of Connected Educator Month during in second two weeks. Three of the sub-themes identified in our post on Week 1 continue to provide structure to the discussion: time, credit, and culture.


In the social media discussions about being connected educators that unfolded at breakneck pace over the last two weeks, there has been much consideration of how individual educators find, or make, the time to learning through communities and networks. Several educators published “day in the life” blog posts. For example, Anne Mirtschin shared a typical day in her life as a connected teacher in Australia. Stacy Schmidt illustrated her day as a connected superintendent via an infographic. Molly Shields wrote to urge connected educators to stop complaining about not having enough time. In her opinion, we have a professional responsibility to make time.

In the opening sessions, participants suggested that a focus on collaboration is one approach to finding time. The second two weeks have featured new and ongoing opportunities to learn about and engage in collaboration. IDEO’s Creative Confidence Challenge in engaging teachers in an open design thinking process on their OpenIDEO platform; An Estuary is engaging teachers in collaborative action research using Sanderling, a mobile “field journal” app; and LearnZillion shared how it’s organizing teachers to produce high quality, standard-aligned learning materials for use across the country.

Each appealing, these innovative collaborative efforts still require teachers to make time on their own in order to participate. This raises a key question about time: How do you integrate innovative collaboration designs into the school day and year? What can we learn from connected educators existing time-making strategies to inform this integration?


The theme of giving credit for learning and collaboration from communities and networks was central to two of the Connected Principals (#cpchat) chats co-hosted by NAESP and NASSP to jointly celebrate Connected Educator Month and National Principals Month. Particularly interesting is “Patapsco University” at Patapsco High School in Baltimore County, MD, where teachers can choose from a number of flexible, blended professional learning opportunities, with the option to co-develop their own, for professional development credit.

Badges continue to be one means for documenting learning and providing recognition of considerable interest. For example, the HP Catalyst Program, which offers compelling short courses on cutting edge educational technology topics for teachers, award teachers a series of badges to recognize their progress through the program. In addition, Connected Educators Month participants continued to earn badges, which we made easier through the addition of FAQs and how-to videos. Increasingly, educators were nominating each other for peer-to-peer badges to recognize collaborations and contributions to each other’s learning.

A recurring question about badges: What do I do with them once I earn them? Who’s the audience for badges? 


Several sessions of the nightly Connected Café focused on integrating formal and informal learning. The most prominent sub-theme in these conversations was professional learning culture. Lucy Gray emphasized the importance of “professional generosity,” which involves not only helping people learn but also giving them the opportunity to act autonomously as professionals, and suggested the GlobalEdCon is designed around this principal. Peggy George, too, pointed to the importance of supporting others in taking ownership of their own learning, suggesting that it’s easy to fall into an “enabler” mode that keeps them dependent on you.

In the chat, Jim Vanides (a guest in another terrific session later that week) shared his satisfaction in seeing students move from depending on him for answers to “constructing their own knowledge together.” This is how professional learning ought to work. Steven Anderson introduced another challenge for both students and educators learning about using technology in their learning, shifting focus from the device to the process of teaching and learning. In general, participants agreed that connected learning for teachers and students goes hand in hand. In the series of GeekOuts, HIVE Learning Networks and the National Writing Project powerfully illustrated this through inviting students to teach educators how to, for example, program with the Scratch.

A key question about culture: Can we preserve autonomy in informal professional learning when it begins to be more systemically embraced through school and district programming?

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Connect with Other Educators to Personalize Your Own Learning

The second annual Connected Educator Month (CEM), an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Education Technology has lived up to its promise to deliver rich opportunities for informal professional development. If you have not jumped in to take advantage of some of the great learning opportunities, you can start now.

Start by registering at the Connected Educators website to receive daily updates. Not sure what to do first? Download the Connected Educator Starter Kit that is full of tips, tutorials, and ideas to help you along your professional learning journey. The CEM 2013 District Toolkit that district and school leaders will find useful as they participate in Connected Educator Month (CEM). Check out the CEM calendar.

Trying to keep up with the hundreds of great events has been an interesting challenge, especially since many of these events are during the school day. On top of all the events happening at Connected Educators Month, there were fantastic learning opportunities at RSCON4, K12 Online, and other events. So we pulled together a few archived events that you just cannot miss.

Interesting articles to read:

Upcoming Events not to miss:

  • Mon., 10/28 12:15-1:30pm ET iNACOL Symposium | Leading Systems Change toward Student-Centered Learning
  • Tues., 10/29 5pm ET New Personalized Learning Models  – join David Truss from Inquiry Hub and Lisa Welch and Wanda Richardson from KM Explore to learn about and discuss new models.
  • Wed., 10/30 5-6:30pm ET Discussion questions and discoveries around themes of Personalized Learning, Innovating STEM and Literacy and 21st Century Classroom Management

As you participate in an event or watch an archived event and find it worth sharing, use the hashtag on Twitter #ce13.  You can even connect with other educators in the CEM online community EdConnectr.   Check out the Wrap Up Events and Activities page.

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What a Week for Thinking STEM!

This was an interesting week for STEM events. I attended one event with the authors of Invent to Learn that was quite inspiring and gave me some fodder on which to chew. I spent an hour in the Connected Cafe with guests Sylvia Martinez & Jackie Gerstein. The webinar was intended for secondary educators. My background is elementary, but I felt that the conversations were very applicable to educators of all levels.

The discussion included conversations about the need to change the current education system, which does not encourage creativity. It made me realize just one more time how much education does need to be transformed. Education needs to provide opportunities for our students to create connections between the facts and knowledge with the big ideas, helping them to develop enduring understandings. In terms of STEM, students need to be engaged in real experiences so that they have the opportunity to think and work like scientists and engineers. It is time to think about personalized learning plans for students. I can only imagine what the role of connected educators will be in the new environments for learning!

After listening to this webinar, I did order the book Invent to Learn because I knew I needed to find out more about the work of these two women.

On another note, Anne Jolly and Nancy Flanagan did some STEM work of their own. They taught an online class on STEM/STEAM last week on the PLP network.  Participants who attended learned what characterized STEM and set it apart from traditional teaching (integration of subject areas, use of the engineering design process, teamwork, multiple possible correct solutions, failure as a road to success, etc.)  They applied what they knew to begin writing an outline for a STEM lesson.  In this case, they are using the engineering design process as an organizer. Even though it was an online course, participants worked in teams to analyze lessons and determine if they were truly STEM lessons or not. I bet Anne or Nancy would be willing to respond if you have any further questions about this topic.

So this brings up the STEM/STEAM question, another point to ponder.

I had fully intended to attend another STEM event, a web seminar sponsored by NASA and NSTA but it was postponed because of the government shut down. It was Weather and Climate: Satellite Meteorology for educators of students from Grades 7-12. So I cannot discuss this but I can tell you about an ongoing STEM resource that is available to you free of charge: NSTA’s Learning Center. The Learning Center is multifaceted with many different types of resources, 3500 or more free resources. The learning Center is perfect for the busy STEM teacher because they can access it at their convenience. There are tools for teachers to use to diagnose, organize, personalize and document their own learning. There is access to other colleagues asynchronously through the discussion forums.

And last but not least access to online advisors who are always willing to assist you or just chat with you about what you are doing in your classroom.

So how do you begin? Google NSTA and click on the NSTA Learning Center. Here is where you will register and your new foray into the STEM resources of NSTA will begin. I can almost hear you that thinking, “But I am not a member of NSTA…” This is NOT a problem, no membership is necessary!

Now that you know a little bit about NSTA’s Learning Center, let me tell you about 3 upcoming events this week.

On Monday, October 21st, at 6:30 PM there will be a web seminar about using the Cybermission Competition to teach STEM skills.

One of the physical science disciplinary core ideas of the Next Generation Science Standards will be brought to life through a web seminar on October 22, 2013. The web seminar is focused on Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions and addresses questions such as “How can one explain and predict interactions between objects and within systems of objects?” This web seminar will provide guidance on:

  • which concepts are central to an understanding of motion and stability
  • how ideas that students have about forces and interactions can be leveraged during instruction
  • how the scientific and engineering practices can be incorporated into instruction so that students can deepen their understanding of these ideas

Wednesday at NSTA highlights an event for  teachers of grades 4-6 in its 6:30 PM web seminar Distance Rate Time Problems: Smart Skies. This web seminar is collaboration between NSTA and NASA, modeling one of those 21st century skills.

This web seminar for educators of students in grades 4–6 features an engaging activity called “Smart Skies.” In this activity, students explore the mathematics involved in the role of an air traffic controller. The challenge is to use mathematical reasoning and distance, rate, and time concepts to change airplane routes and speeds to line up three airplanes safely and with proper spacing at a given intersection. Web seminar participants will receive an overview of the “Smart Skies” activity and discuss ways to modify it to include the engineering design process.

Kathy Renfrew, for the Innovating STEM theme curators

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Connected Leaders Week One — #CE13

Connected Educators Month is full of ways to get “connected.” One special group of learners is the CONNECTED LEADERS theme curator group, who most certainly are interested in the Connected Leaders theme and anything and everything about leadership in the connected communities out there.


The opening panel, Connected Leadership, was hosted by:

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach – author of Connected Educator
Valerie Greenhill – Chief Learning Office for EdLeader 21
Chris Lehmann – Founding Principal for the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia
Candice Dodson – Director of E-Learning with the Indiana DOE
Scott McLeod – Director of Innovation for Prairie Lakes Schools

Discussion centered around, “What does it mean to be a connected leader?,” How does connected leadership impact student learning?,”  and “As we become more connected, what challenges do we face in the future?” The panel got off to a great start and immediately tackled the topic of preparing our students for the future. This certainly is an underlying theme of why leaders should be connected.

The way we learn and live is moving beyond isolation. Our local Communities of Practice are becoming GLOBAL Communities of Practice. Reducing isolation is key, and this will change everything we do. For instance, educators will feel affirmed in their learning to take risks because they no longer feel isolated….instead they feel connected.

Topics ranged from issues such as openness, district systems that facilitate openness, transparency, accelerated learning, and the ever critical collaboration. Again and again, the panel members returned to the concept that there is power in learning that is socialized.

Other events throughout the week included:


Also, on the 1st, there began a celebration of connected Leadership. NAESP began their celebration of National Principals Month with their Hats Off to Principals Contest!

  • Step 1: Draw a picture, snap a photo, produce a video, write a song or poem, or create any other work of art that celebrates your principal. Make it cool, make it personal, but most of all, make it fun!
  • Step 2: Upload your tribute to NAESP’s Facebook page at
  • Step 3: Win great prizes! We’ll recognize a weekly winner. Prizes include: $50 Amazon® Gift Cards, Crayola® Dry Erase Prize Packs, and more!


During this multi-vendor session, administrators were able to review several great educational apps. These apps ranged from organization and time savers for leaders to academic apps for teachers. Dr. Rob Furman, principal of South Park Elementary School new Pittsburgh, PA, shared 25 to 30 apps in all including several social apps. At the conclusion of the event, a small discussion on social media in education was also presented.


During this webinar, Kappan Editor-in-Chief Joan Richardson walked leaders through the process of submitting a manuscript for publication. Her advice focused on Kappan but much of what she shared also applies to other professional education publications. She introduced participants to writers’ guidelines, editorial calendars, thematic issues, timelines for decisions and more, all in an effort to help educators navigate the submission process. This was a valuable session for connected leaders who are interested in print publishing as well as following the same sort of guidelines for BLOGing or publishing online.


Administrator’s days are extremely busy. One theme that comes up across all the topics for Connected Educators Month is the necessity of finding the time to be connected. During this contest kick-off, the event asks the question, “What does a day in the life a Connected Educator look like?” We invite you to show us! There are many possibilities for creating a Day in the Life of a Connected Educator project. It could be as simple as a blog post, a graphic organizer or something along the lines of a podcast or video. We have not created guidelines because we want to allow for creative choice. The only requirement is that your project needs to be accessible online. Share the link to your “project” anytime during October by Tweeting it to @INeLearn with the hashtag #CE13. We will feature Indiana Connected Educators all month long at The purpose for sharing:

  1. Inspire unconnected educators and educational leaders to get connected.
  2. Expand your connections and collaborations.
  3. Motivate other connected educators to create their own project to share as part of the National Connected Educator Month.


This webinar hosted by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach was designed to prepare the next generation to rise to the demands of constant change. Sheryl defined how to meet these expectations enclosed in the silos of our classrooms and offices? Her solution is that we need each other. During this session, Sheryl collaboratively explored the art of collective intelligence building and selfless tribe leadership as a means to transpersonal and professional growth.


#Satchat is an online Twitter discussion for current and emerging school leaders that takes place every Saturday morning at 7:30 AM EST/PST. This Saturday’s #SATCHAT will most definitely be focused on Connected Educators Month; however, tune in every week to learn from the other leaders who are up with a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning to discuss the issues of the day.

OCTOBER 6, 2013

This Moodle MOOC 2 Webinar hosted by Dr. Ludmila Smirnova shared her experience of teaching undergrad and grad courses in a teacher-training program and how she made a change in teacher candidates’s attitudes and skills from resisting technology and critical thinking to embracing technology and striving for excellence. Any administrator that works with teachers could benefit from using such strategies to move learners from technology resistance mindsets to technology participation, connection, and collaboration.

Week one was busy with options for connected leaders to continue with connected learning. Connections are transforming learning, and we are no longer dependent on local spaces. Join us each week this month as we continue to add to our personal learning networks and our communities of practice.


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Call to Action: Recognize and Celebrate the Educators Who Have Made A Difference with Peer-to-Peer Digital Badges

cem-collaboratorLearning from and collaborating with others educators is the irreducible foundation of being a connected educator. In fact, it may be foundational to being an effective educator, period. In the countless stories of being and becoming connected shared during Connected Educator Month so far, the common refrain is that we’ve learned more from our colleagues—across the hall and around the globe—than from any other source and achieved more working together than we ever could have on our own. A growing body of research confirms these insights, suggesting that connected professional learning and collaboration contribute powerfully to helping kids thrive.

cem-mentorContributions made by peers benefit other educators, their students, and the profession as a whole. They cry out to be recognized and celebrated. However, they are often invisible to those not directly involved in the learning and collaboration. Other educators who were involved are far better positioned to document the contributions and attest to their impact than any third-party assessor. Educators have privileged knowledge of how other educators have helped them improve their practice. The only way the world is going to know about how your peers have helped you excel is if you tell their stories.

This is why Connected Educator Month this year is offering you the opportunity to nominate your peers to receive digital badges. When you nominate them for badges, you get to tell the stories of the difference they’ve made. (Event staff members approve all nominations that aren’t spam.) Receiving digital badges recognizing their contributions is likely to be meaningful for your peers, particularly since they will know it came from fellow educators who truly know what they’re talking about. The recipients can also display their badges publically and share them with others as evidence of their leadership and contributions to the profession.

There are two primary peer-to-peer badges for which you can nominate other educators who have made a difference:

  • Use the CEM Mentor badge to recognize another educator who has influenced your practice for the better, in small or big ways. If you’re learned through your relationship with another educator—whether the relationship was developed through a Connected Educator Month event you attended last week or is the result of decades of working together—consider nominating them from this badge.
  • Use the CEM Collaborator badge to celebrate another educator with whom you’ve collaborated in a shared effort that produced meaningful results. Collaborations could be as expansive as developing a new curriculum or as modest as developing a shared list of resources. If it was important to advancing your practice, it deserves notice.
  • Two other peer-to-peer badges enable you to document specific kinds of collaborations: CEM World Traveler focuses on collaboration across national borders, and CEM Re-Mixer highlights collaborative transformation of open educational resources.

Nominating other educators for badges is simple. Telling the stories of their contributions as well as they deserve to be told does take a bit of time and care, but actually making the nomination only take a few clicks. The mechanics are described in the Connected Educator Month Badges FAQs and in this short video.

We challenge you to observe Connected Educator Month by honoring the educators who make a different in your professional lives today with peer-to-peer digital badges. We’ll be following up with some of you who do later in the month to tell your story as well.

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The ConnectED School Leader

As part of our Board capacity building program, we offered 2 full day sessions for our school administrators and instructional leaders with George Couros. George’s session aligned perfectly with our system plan and Ontario school improvement framework. The timing of our sessions also support the global work of Connected Educator Month

George is very personable in front of a crowd, and that in itself helped drive home one of the key messages of the day – the human connection. His approach captured and reinforced an important message in my recent blog post providing a perspective on technology enabled learning. It is NOT about the technology itself. It IS about the human connection: how we connect, develop relationships, learn, support the learning journey of others and reflect. Technology plays a powerful role in the “C’s” – communicate, collaborate, citizenship and character development, creating and critical questions.

The “C’s” provide connectors for us to learn, tell our story or tell the story of our school or system. The “C’s” help us connect beyond our school and system. We gain a wider perspective on innovation and best practices from educational counterparts around the world. Who can better tell your/your school story than you, the administrator and instructional leader?

Through personal and heart warming examples, George shared a journey that connected the dots on the benefits of becoming connected. In the end, the tools themselves, and the technology involved, was simply that – a mechanism to get to the relationships and the story. Tools that supported the journey included Twitter, Google tools (docs, hangouts, youtube etc.), Ted Talks. Use the tools to make your job more streamlined. Deal with information once: Google doc vs word processor to pdf to email for example.

One can not under estimate the value of developing a personal learning network (PLN) to give you access to sharing, resources, problem solving, exchange ideas, thinking and best practices and asking questions – all part of telling your story. I really enjoyed George’s analogy to using your PLN to ask questions and source the wisdom of the PLN crowd to lighting up the “Bat Signal” – a call for help, information, collaboration etc. – awesome!

Dovetailed with blogging, you have a powerful method of communicating your story to a real world audience. This journey certainly does require one to step into the role of the learner and that in itself may be one of the most powerful things that you do as an instructional leader. People around you will benefit from watching you learn, ask critical questions, share through blogging & other means, and shape your thinking.

Sounds like this could be messy – right? So what – learning is messy, and that is simply OK. Why wouldn’t it be messy? Process vs end result. This journey does require that you put your self out there and demonstrate transparency in what you are doing. And just like the first time skier on the 60 foot run (reference to video) – go for it — it is just a little longer and faster than the 20 foot run.

You can do it.

Take action.

Start building your network by spending a few minutes a day on Twitter. Commit 10-15 minutes daily – that is all it takes to get started. Commit to contributing to your board/district hashtag.

See you online in the “Twitterverse” and “Blogosphere”.

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