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RIDE supports several blogs throughout our website where Rhode Islanders and RIDE staff share their thoughts.

On this page, we have collected all of the blogs on our site - many of which share posts from Rhode Island educators other than RIDE staff. Blogs are listed in alphabetical order:

  • Commissioner's Corner: Blog posts and messages from the Commissioner to the Rhode Island community.
  • District Teacher of the Year (DTOY): Posts from the Rhode Island District Teachers of the Year, past and present, who share about instructional successes and challenges they encounter in Rhode Island classrooms.
  • Equitable Access to Excellent Educators: Rhode Island educators and RIDE staff explore factors and perspectives on the importance of ensuring that all students are taught by high quality educators.
  • Leadership: Reflections and insights from RIDE’s Leadership Fellow and other district and school leaders on the challenges and opportunities of being a school leader.
  • Rhode Island Poet Laureate: Reflections and poetry focused on teaching, learning, and the experience of education from Tina Cane, Rhode Island Poet Laureate.
  • Rhode Island Science Education (R.I.S.E.): A communication blog to update stakeholders in education and in the community on important developments, events and accomplishments in science education in Rhode Island.
  • Student Voice: Because student voice is an essential component of our discussion on education, RIDE will post essays written by students from around Rhode Island.

Click on a category below to filter by a particular blog:

Career Saving Connections

Posted by: Kamlyn Keith on 10/26/2018
Jennifer Saarinen
2018 District Teacher of the Year, Bristol Warren Regional School District
Inquiring Minds Teacher
Kickemuit Middle School

Building a Personalized and Professional Learning Network

It is true. It happened to me, too. Call it teacher burnout. Call it frustration by adding in plenty of new initiatives and acronyms for teaching and learning. Call it a lack of time for self-care and reflection. Call it what you want, but three years ago, I couldn’t see myself as an energetic, passionate, effective teacher in 2020, and I started to panic and think about what my next steps would be to make a career change.

Insert problem and real panic: There is NO other career for me. I have never had the backup plan for the chance of “what if” teaching doesn’t work out as my lifelong career.

Around the same time, someone suggested that I read “What Connected Educators Do Differently?” (Casas, Whitaker, Zoul) – providing a case as to how powerful Twitter can be to educators for professional learning, connections, and amazing classroom ideas. Little did I know or imagine the power that the Key Connectors explained in this book had. I started slowly and deliberately by looking for a virtual PLN (personal and professional learning network) that fit my needs. I lurked during a few edchats of interest to help me find educators who I wanted to follow. I slowly put my ideas out there and participated in a Twitter chat with only a small number of people from my district. I now participate regularly in education chats and took the lead in a chat this summer.

Using Twitter to connect isn’t about the likes, comments, or retweets. Reaching out to the other educators I’ve connected with on Twitter makes it about finding opportunities for professional learning, asking for ideas on how to make a lesson more engaging for my students, and looking for solution-focused ways to help me work through a problem I’ve encountered with an educational technology tool. It's also about asking those I've connected with for different ideas on how to engage and build trust with those students who need it most while still finding ways to make time for myself so that I can be my best self.

Feeling the benefits of being connected beyond my school and district has also helped me to find ways to have my students be more connected as learners. This has meant breaking down the walls of our classroom by using Flipgrid to have asynchronous conversations with one another as we share out our thinking. This has meant connecting via Google Hangout or Mystery Skype to an expert in a different state or on a different continent. This has meant learning about the positive impacts on giving and receiving gratitude using GiveThx and taking the time to do this in the classroom.

As an experienced teacher, I don’t have all of the answers. In fact, as I start this school year teaching and designing Inquiring Minds, a brand new course at my school, I really don’t have the answers. But I have connections to others who are happy to connect me to their connections who may have some of the answers because they’ve already been there. And with these connections, I will continue to learn, connect with, and brainstorm with others who believe in the power of being connected.

Ready to connect? Follow me at @snej80

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