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Blended Bites Blog

Language Barriers as a Connected Educator

Jessica Anderson

I never thought as a connected educator that I'd feel isolated. It's a strange feeling and would be considered an oxymoron to say that I feel like a lonely connected educator. However, it's a very real feeling for many educators I talk to and interact with online.

I know throughout history that many people have felt this way. For instance, Albert Einstein in a statement recorded in the diary of Johanna Fantova said, "I am a completely isolated man...though everybody knows me" (Dennis Overbye, 2004). I imagine he felt this way because many of his thoughts and practices in an effort to understand the universe were too extreme for many to imagine or understand. I believe this is also the case for educators that have embarked on the path of being connected.

From my short stint (1 1/2 years) on Twitter, I have learned that connected educators speak their own language. We use words like networking, collaborating, and authenticating in terms that many don't understand. Yes, other educators may have heard and used these words to talk about their practice, but I'm not positive that their use holds to same meaning as when spoken by a connected educator. We also throw around terminology like backchannel, Genius Hour, and Mystery Skypes like everyone knows what we are talking about. Believe me, I used all three of these in a presentation I did this past week and they stared at me like I had three heads.

Yes, we speak a different language and often when we speak this language we put ourselves in a situation where we become isolated. We share and spread amazing ideas we've implemented in our classrooms and often get silence and no emotion from the teachers we are presenting to. It's in these situations that it's hard to read those individuals. However, it all becomes worth it when one person approaches you after the presentation, says that you've "blown the teacher's minds" and thanks you for sharing your voice.

The next time you start to feel isolated, reflect back on a time when you were in their shoes. The terminology may have been scary. Taking extreme steps, against the norm, to change your classroom for students is scary. Remember, you are not alone in your thinking. However, you can do something about it. You are connected and know being a connected educator is powerful! You are continually speaking with educators who understand your language. You are benefiting as a practitioner, helping students become connected citizens, and sharing the awesomeness of teaching. You are a mentor to all educators currently practicing, as well as entering our field. You have the power to show educators just how powerful being connected truly is!

And heck, you make awesome friends you eventually meet face-to-face as a result!