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Genein Letford: Connected Educator of the Week

What is your current job of position?
I am a music teacher as well as GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) teacher at an elementary charter school.
What is your educational background?
I received my BA from UCLA and my masters from CSUN (Cal State University, Northridge) and have been a teacher for 9 years. The first three years I taught 3rd grade and now I run the music and gifted program.
Describe your educational philosophy and educational vision?
I believe that all children should have equal access to a complete education that includes the arts. My vision is to create lessons that utilize the arts to promote critical thinking and analysis.
How do you grow and engage your professional learning network?
In the past I have done presentations at various conferences and connected with educators with the old fashioned ‘face to face’ method. I just started building my PLN on Twitter (@GeneinLetford) and, even in the short time I have been on there, have connected with the some the most profound educators and speakers in the country.
What is the greatest benefit of your professional network?
There’s a raft of information on all types of subjects and it’s all right there at your fingertips! I can just connect with people at the elementary level or branch out to K-12 or higher. I can stratify the type of information I come in contact with. It can be overwhelming but overwhelming in a good way.
If you blog, what is the focus of it? How long have you been writing? Who is your audience?
My first attempt at a blog was “Top 10 Tips for Successful Grant Writing.” It was written as a guest post for My Town Tutors. I was glad to share my experiences with other teachers.
How do you use social media to connect with other educators? What is your advice to teachers on social media and education?
I am just starting a blog and it will focus on the arts, arts integration with critical thinking, and other issues on my heart that affect students in the classroom, such as stuttering and equal access to opportunities for creativity and innovation.
What advice in general do you have for teachers today?
I just want to challenge teachers to reflect on the opportunities they give their students to be creative, inventive and innovative. Convergent thinking has totally dominated our educational system (where all students must get the same exact answer) and it is time to give our student’s choice to investigate different outcomes and learn how to defend their position.
Describe a teacher who has had a significant impact on your professional development?
My CSUN professor, Dr. Joyce Burstein has had a great impact on growing my professional development opportunities.I have guest lectured in her graduate class on arts integration. She was the first one to invite me to present at a conference when I was still in grad school and she chaired my thesis ‘Integration with Integrity -The Importance of Keeping Music in the Elementary Classroom’. This was the start to the many opportunities I have been honored to be a part of today.
What book would you recommend to teachers?
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
Any book by Ron Clark
Stutter Boy by Eric Garner