This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Meenoo Rami is a consummate connected educator, a National Board Certified teacher and debate coach at Science Leadership Academy. She is also the founder and moderator of #engchat.
I will co-host the Connected Educator Month #engchat event with Rami at 7 p.m. EST on Monday, Aug. 27. (If you would like to keep pace with Rami’s prolific Tweets, then follow her at www.twitter.com/meenoorami)
To gear up for our conversation, I asked Rami a few questions. In keeping with Twitter’s 140-character limit, the questions and responses are short and concise.
Reed: What motivated you to start #engchat?
Rami: I wanted to learn from my colleagues, build a community for English teachers, and find a place where questions, ideas, and resources can be shared easily.
Reed: You are becoming a rock star English teacher. Lady Gaga doesn’t have to worry, but how do you stay connected with so many teachers?
Rami: I follow hashtags like #engchat, #nwp, and #educon, and I try to start and participate in conversations around a topic I’m thinking about. I have found this is the most helpful way to connect with others.
Reed: Do you worry that our hyperconnectedness also disconnects us? Yes or no? Why?
Rami: Yes and no. I think we need all types of teacher networks (online and face-to-face). There is value in both, and how we engage in these communities makes all the difference.
Reed: Why is being connected so important?
Rami: Because teaching can be lonely in some places, and our work is challenging. It’s great to have a wider perspective and free exchange of ideas and resources.
Reed: How do teacher networks sustain novice and experienced teachers?
Rami: It breaks down isolation felt by teachers. Additionally, it can also provide a way for teachers from all levels of experience to interact and learn from each other.
Reed: What barriers keep teachers and students from being connected?
Rami: Time and resources are obvious ones; we are being asked to do more with less. It can also be daunting to just know where to start.
Reed: Is it important for teachers and students to monitor their digital footprints? And if so, how?
Rami: Absolutely, we have to model living and learning in a digital world for our students. We have to make our interconnected learning visible to them. I think there is tremendous value in modeling this for our students.
Reed: Your digital footprint took me to the NWP Digital Is website. What is Digital Is?
Rami: Digital Is is an effort from the National Writing Project to “collect ideas, reflections, and stories about what it means to teach writing in our digital, interconnected world.” It’s made up of provocations, resources, and blog posts from teachers across the country.
Reed: So what are some of the next steps you want us to discuss in our upcoming #engchat session?
Rami: Connected Educator Month is a great start, but how do we continue this dialogue? How do we involve a larger number of teachers in these types of activities? How do we sustain the work we’ve started? I am looking forward to our dialogue with the #engchat community.
Meenoo Rami(@meenoorami) a Philadelphia Writing Project teacher consultant, hosts rich conversations every Monday from 7- 8 p.m. EST. Archives of conversations and resources can be found at www.engchat.org
Please plan to participate. Share some topics you would like us to discuss about teacher networks, digital literacy and connected learning.