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Evolve as an Educator

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We welcome author and guest blogger Brad Currie who serves as a K-8 Supervisor of Instruction and Dean of Students for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. He is a Google Certified Trainer and speaks nationally about tech integration.

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Educators have evolved, in large part due to technological advances, over the past five years. Why you might ask? Social media has flattened the educational world and have provided people with an opportunity to share, reflect, collaborate, and push their game to the next level. Mobile devices connected to the internet have provided educators with an opportunity to access content or share ideas with taps of the screen. It's no longer an option that educators do not evolve in some way, shape or form. Status quo is not option. Educators from all walks of life have something great to share that can have a positive impact on someone else half way around the globe.

Engagement in intentional professional growth opportunities is a key component of an evolving educator. For example, Twitter has taken the educational world by storm over the past five years. In my new book that I co-wrote with Billy Krakower and Scott Rocco, 140 Twitter Tips for Educators, it's made very clear of the type of positive pathway educators can make for themselves in a 140 characters or less. Attending innovative educational conferences, such as the second annual Tomorrow's Classrooms Today Conference, expose educators to pedagogically sound methods that challenge traditional learning spaces. It all comes down to networking in virtual or physical environments. Ideas and resources shared during these types of experiences ultimately impact the success of students.

Validating your educational belief system by surrounding yourself with like-minded educators in the physical and virtual world will pay off in the long run if you are truly looking to evolve as an educator. EdCamps provide educators with an opportunity to learn in an informal setting. Participants have the freedom to hold conversations and choose the types of sessions they want to attend. Recently educators have taken to tools like Voxer and Periscope to connect and learn from others. Both "tools of the trade" give users an opportunity to hear and see others as they share their insight on a variety of educational topics. Make it a goal over the coming months to attend a local EdCamp and/or utilize a new tool like Voxer or Periscope to stay fresh with what's current.

Orienting yourself with innovative best practices that push the limits of learning environments is another part of evolving as an educator. There is no better way to gain exposure to best practices then by leveraging the power of your Personal Learning Network or PLN. This could mean different things to different folks, but the bottom line is that educators must take advantage of these networks. For example, educators from around the country tune into Twitter each Saturday morning from 7:30-8:30 EST for #Satchat to discuss topics ranging from educational technology to digital citizenship to student voice. The more educators orient themselves to best practices in the field of education utilizing digital tools, the better chance student success will be impacted.

Launch into unchartered territories that promote risk-taking and autonomy. The more school leaders take risks, the more teachers will take risks. The more teachers take risks, the more students take risks. Evolving as an educator takes time and undoubtedly failures will be endured. It's important to stay the course and constantly try new methods and tools that you learn about from networks in the physical and virtual world. The hope is that autonomy is a staple of the school culture that you are a part of and translates to students experience the same sort of freedom. There is no doubt that risk-taking and autonomous learning environments breed innovation and higher levels of learning.

Value relationships and pedagogically sound learning, teaching, and leading. The successful evolution of an educator only happens when they do what's best for kids, infuse instructionally sound methods, and commit to improving on a consistent basis. Treating others with respect and advocating for what's right in education can move your role as educator from good to great. It should always be about promoting the success of a student and understanding that a balance exists between the tech and non-tech world.

Epitomize what a current and evolving educator must embody. What does this look like? It's everything described in this blog post. From leveraging the power of a tool like Twitter to attending innovative educational events like the Tomorrow's Classrooms Today Conference. It's a life-long commitment to always finding a way to improve your craft as an educator. There is no doubt that this is not an easy process and that obstacles will have to be overcome again and again. But at the end of the day it's what's needed if the needs of a school stakeholders are going to be met.

There is no doubt that this is the one of the most exciting yet frustrating times in education. Evolving educators always focus on the positive and move forward even when faced with negative realities.The time is now to lift yourself and others to places once thought unimaginable. Why you might ask? Because the simple fact is that your student's, teacher's, school, district, community, and most importantly yourself deserve the very best.

More about Brad:
Brad Currie is the author of All Hands on Deck: Tools for Connecting Educators, Parents, and Communities; Personalized PD: Flipping Your Professional Development; and the newly released book 140 Twitter Tips for Educators. He is one of the founding partners of Evolving Educators LLC. Brad is a 2014 ASCD Emerging Leader and Google Certified Trainer. He currently serves as a K-8 Supervisor of Instruction and Dean of Students for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. He is a Google Certified Trainer and speaks nationally about tech integration. Learn more about Brad by following him on Twitter@bradmcurrie or visiting his website at www.bradcurrie.net.

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