Day 1: Connected Educator Month
Today I had the opportunity to visit the Google office in Cambridge with my Help Desk and Digital Literacy students. We had an office tour, a Q & A session with a panel of Googlers, a great lunch and even got some Google swag!
Five Googlers, engineers and sales team members, encouraged my students to take computer science classes, learn how to collaborate with others on projects, develop their leadership skills, always be willing to learn, and that they should “take the path that isn’t ordinary.” Google employees also gave their personal recommendations on who to follow on Twitter and advice on how they can leverage blogging and LinkedIn to get a jump-start on professional networking. The consistent message from the entire panel to my students was to work hard and find something they were passionate about.
How was I able to provide my students with this learning experience? It was thanks to the connection I have maintained with my former student, Michael Westervelt.
Michael was my student, and FBLA Vice-President when I worked at Campbell High School in Litchfield, New Hampshire. I remember Michael being a well-spoken, enthusiastic student-athlete. I knew Michael would be a success, and I was right. Since graduating with his degree in Public Relations, Michael earned a spot at Google working in sales and is also the founder of Next Step Consulting. He spoke at Pinkerton Academy last year, and explained the importance of establishing a positive online presence. I plan to have him come to Burlington High School some time this school year and I know he will once again have a tremendous impact.
During today’s Q & A Michael and his colleagues confirmed that Google’s 20% time projects are alive and well, and that collaborating with me has in a way become a part of his 20% project efforts. I am truly honored and grateful that Michael takes time out of his schedule to contribute to my curriculum in such a meaningful way. I definitely plan to use technology and reach out to the colleagues in my PLN this year (not just the month of October) to improve as an educator and engage my students. But, there really is no piece of technology that can replicate the learning experience that Michael and his coworkers provided for my students during today’s visit. There really is no better way I could’ve kicked off Connected Educator Month.
So, as you plan activities of your own for CE13, don’t forget about a tremendous resource…your former students. We all have similar stories of former students who have gone on to accomplish amazing things and have incredible careers. If these students are local, invite them into your classroom to share their success strategies, or set up a tour of their workplace. If distance, time, or funding prevents an in-person visit, invite your former students into your classroom via Skype or a Google Hangout for a virtual visit.
Currently, there are lots of ideas being shared about how to participate in Connected Educator Month. While reaching out to a former student may seem like a small way to connect, I’d argue that these are the types of connected experiences that will have the biggest impact on student learning. And that is what connecting this month, and every other month is really all about…our students and their learning!