Interview w/ EdTech Leader Mary Beth Hertz on PLNs & Education Today

Earlier this week, passionate K-6 Computer Science teacher leader and blogger of the week Mary Beth Hertz wrote some inspirational words on why every educator should join a Professional Learning Network. In this interview, Hertz elaborates and describes how educators can use their PLNs to affect real change in their schools, communities, and education as a whole.

Q: How do you suggest teachers use PLNs to affect real change in their schools, communities, or education as a whole?

PLNs bring people together. Whenever a group of people are united and connected they affect real change wherever they may be or whatever their role may be.

  • Use your learning network to take risks in the name of a better education for your students or a better community.
  • Use your learning network to open up the channels of communication between stakeholders to better serve the community and the school.
  • Use your learning network to expand your horizons and increase your learning opportunities so you can build a toolkit of resources.

Q: What 3 words would you use to describe education today?

1. kinetic 2. political 3. innovative

Q: What are a few of your favorite web 2.0 tools to use in the classroom?

My students LOVE Storybird for creating and publishing stories online. They can share them with each other and their families and some of my students’ parents have left them comments encouraging their writing. I also love Drop.io for handling student submissions for projects and enabling students to view and comment on each others’ work.  One of the most powerful tools for collaboration across state and national boundaries has been VoiceThread. My students have shared their voices with the world and have received comments from across the nation and world as well.

Q: What motivates your passion about education, your love of learning?

I am motivated by those ‘aha’ moments I see my students experience and the light in their eyes when they learn something new or complete a project they’re really proud of. Honestly, I have always loved learning and I am a self-motivated learner. What tends to motivate me as a learner is when my ideas are challenged or my status quo is turned on its head.

Q: What is one of the most valuable lessons you have learned from your students in the classroom?

One of my more challenging students once asked me straight out: “Why do I need to learn this?” I gave her some answer I don’t remember and then went home and rethought my project.

Q: I’m so excited about EDcamp Philly. I know you are an organizer. Please tell us more. 

Edcamp Philly is an opportunity to have informal, real conversations with a diverse group of people with a passion for education.  It is also a great place to begin building a PLN and watching one in action.  It is a chance to light a fire under you and inspire you to teach all over again.

-Mary Beth Hertz (@mbteach)

Photos from Philly Teacher Blog

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