Parkland School Division just hosted all the new teachers to our school division in an orientation that is both informative and welcoming. I am really proud of how our school division prides itself on connecting with people so quickly. Our superintendent meets all the new teachers before they even start in a school. I know of divisions that teachers have not even met their superintendent. Culture is everything and I am proud to be where I am.
As I talked with teachers, and reflected on my own experiences this past summer, I talked with many about how important it is to share your learning online and start to create a digital footprint, as it is important to model this for our kids, and will also help us in the future for applying for other positions. As I reflected after, I thought back to a conversation that I overheard from my brother who was talking about how a “network” changes everything. We often look for people that are knowledgeable and have the skills to be great teachers, but what Alec had mentioned took it one step further. He had mentioned that when we hire someone, we do not only hire them, but we often hire their connections as well. A teacher may have a certain level of aptitude on their own, but does the opportunity for innovative teaching and learning increase when that teacher is tapped into a large network of passionate and intelligent educators? My answer is that it obviously does.
I don’t want to disregard the power of having some very close, face-to-face mentors as they are extremely important, but why not have that and a personal learning network? I know from experience that teachers have the ability to learn from amazing teachers both in and out of their school; why would we limit it to one or the other?
As Alec reminded me about what my dad used to say to us, “It is not what you know, but who you know.” When you hire a teacher with a personal learning network that continuously taps into it, it is very probable that there will be massive amounts of growth in their learning. That impact will trickle down to their students.
So as new teachers join us this year, my hope is that “who they know” will expand exponentially, along with their learning.