#FF – Laura Gilchrist

Here it is, another Friday and Twitter is full of the hashtag:  #FF.  For those of you uninitiated Twitterers out there, that stands for Follow Friday.  In other words, Twitter users will use that hashtag in their tweets followed by the Twitter handles (usernames) of others that they deem worthy of gaining additional followers.

That’s all well and good because I’ve blindly done the same thing myself.  I’ve mentioned others to follow and also gained people to follow from such tweets.  However, as in life, just because I like to follow someone doesn’t necessarily mean that the Twitterverse will as well.

So, now when I issue #FF’s, I would like to take the time to use this blog to explain WHY I recommend you follow these people–stuff that takes longer than 140 characters.

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This week, my #FF shout out goes to Laura Gilchrist (@LauraGilchrist4).  She teaches 6th grade science and social studies in the same school district in Kansas City where I teach.  She’s one of the ones that actually introduced me to the concept of being a connected educator.  In her 19th year of middle level education, she is the very definition of a lifelong learner.

Her blog, Shiny Happy Teachers, is truly one of the best ones around.  She skillfully incorporates lessons she has learned while teaching along with the technology and other ideas she has gleaned from social media as well as other respected educators.

Check out the other things she does as well…she is one of our school district’s teachers who is test driving a set of classroom Ipad Minis in order to give feedback to central office about the ups and downs of the endeavor before it goes district-wide.  Laura also is on the pilot team for our district’s venture into the workshop model.  Cris Tovani and Sam Bennett have consulted with our district and already did a great deal of large group professional development about the model with a number of teachers.  However, Cris and Sam wanted to directly work with a streamlined group of 30 teachers in the district in order to coach them through their subject area efforts in the model.  Laura, of course, is one of those.

She also is a HUGE contributing member of the Edcamp movement.  She attends a number of Edcamps in the area and is a co-organizer of #EdCampKC in November here in town.  In fact, she also participated in the first #EdCampHome last month as well.  She’s a major presence on social media as well, including Twitter, Pinterest, Google + and Instagram.  She assists in moderating our state Twitter educational chat, #moedchat.  She leads a great deal of professional development regarding getting more educators in our district involved on Twitter.  I know she does a lot of other things that I don’t even know about, so I’m sure this testimonial is incomplete.  Regardless, one thing I’ve learned from the experiences I’ve had with her, is that she is definitely willing to take risks and learn from her successes and mistakes.  She’s the epitome of a continuous learner and practices what she preaches.

Outside of education, she is big into photography and will post much of her work online on the above mentioned social media sites.  Lastly, she has a love affair with puns.  One thing to know about her is that she isn’t a cross-eyed teacher who couldn’t control her pupils (was that one OK, Laura?).  In addition, no matter how hard she pushes the envelope, it remains stationery (how about that?).

Anyway, on a personal level, Laura has been the expert on being a connected educator in our district.  I have gained a great deal of knowledge from her about technology in education, as well as trying to become a better teacher through all sorts of informal professional development (like blogs and Twitter). In my mind, she is an educational rock star, and I hold her in the highest regard.

So, that’s why I follow Laura Gilchrist, and so should you.

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