Nussbaum-Beach & Hall’s book “The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age” poses a profound question many disregard: Are you relevant to your students? I hadn’t even finished the first chapter of the book, and I was already facing a pedagogical detour. Am I relevant to my students? What does relevance mean? Do I even need to be relevant? Subsequent chapters assured me that I am relevant, in other words, I am ”closely connected to the matters at hand,” and the practices I inherently engage in are indeed necessary for student success; however, student sentiment on campus cannot be reciprocated for all of the educators at the small, liberal arts college for which I teach.
One of the perks of my job includes tutoring remedial writers one-on-one (I would do it for free if need be – don’t tell administration). During these sessions, students express a lack of connection with instructors, noting educator disorganization, lack of classroom technology use, and/or a disgruntled approach to the transference of learning. I have concluded that, despite best intentions, experience, and practical application of subject matter, students cannot relate to a disconnected instructor.
During Connected Educators Month, I’d like to encourage connected educators to connect with disconnected educators. Education needs an established, connected learning community, which will expand sufficiently if connected educators model best practices. “Connected Educators” promotes relevance through three outlets of communication: (1) local (professional learning community, (2) contextual (personal learning network), and (3) global (community of practice). Reach out to your local faculty, share best practices, and share those best practices using a global platform. Get connected!