#ReConnecting ConnectedEd

2 Sep

I’m a social media convert… mostly. I haven’t given over to facebook (and by epic tweet standards perhaps I shouldn’t), but nonetheless I whole-heartedly have fallen for the power of connecting with other educators.

I’ve loved it so much that every chance I’ve gotten over the last several months I’ve professed the power of twitter far and wide: “It’s the best PD ever!” I shout to the roof tops. I am excited when I see twitter-newbies sign-up or when twitter… er… old-bies log back into accounts that have gone dormant.

But after the high-fives I wonder, is “connecting” enough?

Connect-ing is not Connect-ed

It’s simple to connect someone to Twitter, for example. Just show them how to log-in, enter their account info, choose a handle, and boom. You’re in. You might even show them how to follow you. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you will share any sort of connection past that point.

I can subscribe to a blog, but aside from skimming the recent posts, am I really connected or simply connecting?

As I reflect on being an educator, and now soon a parent of a public school student (kindergarten starts THIS WEEK, PEOPLE!!), I think of all of my own parent-teacher letters and back-to-school-night conversations and how, again, just connecting doesn’t mean that the parents I have talked with are now connected to me, and me to them.

I even think about students. How I care for all, but am so connected to some and wish I were more connected to others.

Re-Connecting

Which leads me to this: Connecting is one step. But re-connecting is probably even more essential.

It first requires awareness. Try this:

  1. List in your mind or on paper a few areas of your life (work, kid’s school, social media, neighborhood, home, etc.)
  2. Under each, list or just mentally picture the top 3-4 people you are truly connected to.
  3. Now, list the 3-4 you were once connected to, but somehow now aren’t.

I just had a long mental “oooh” as I saw the faces of that second set of people. Not just because I feel like I have a missed opportunity, but because I realize the ability to re-connect is totally in my hands. It is probably the most essential step to being connected within this field.

As I mull over this, I’m thinking of some ways to re-connect, and I would love to hear more from you – please add to the comments and I’ll try to grab some and toss them up in this list. Here is the start of my thinking through a year of connecting and re-connecting:

  • With student-teacher and student-student relationships
    • The get-to-know-you ice breakers should not just be for day one and two of school. As our students grow and evolve across the year, they quite literally become new people that need new introductions to you and each other.
    • Opportunities for students to write from experience, as probably anyone reading this knows, reveal more about students than being bound to only writing from sources. While both are important skill sets, a continual re-connecting classroom needs time for each player (us included) to reveal themselves.
    • Conversations about the power within experiences and ideas should be just as prevalent as conversations about grammar rules and structural revisions. It’s putting aside the “here’s something I can teach you” for even just a second to instead say, “here’s something you have really got me thinking a lot about…” or “This idea you are writing about feels so devastating. How are you feeling today about it?”
  • With parent-teacher and teacher-to-teacher relationships
    • Just asking “how can I help?” can go light years.
    • Or I love to ask “what’s something most people don’t know about you?”. Talking person-to-person, putting roles aside for a moment, always makes me feel more connected.
    • Not only doing this at back-to-school night.
  • In social media:
    • Not just reading tweets and posts, but replying and commenting (and commenting on comments).
    • Finding a way to reach-out to the sea of “followers” and “followings” that you don’t feel close to. A “what have you been up to?” tweet (which I haven’t tried yet) or a nosing your way into a conversation you see going on (which I do all the time) can help you see new sides of people, find new conversations.
  • In, well, everywhere:
    • Being gracious and thankful out loud. My friend and tweep @MaggieBRoberts is masterful at this. I have seen her strike up warm conversations everywhere, online and off, and I notice often it leads off with her being truly thankful for something someone has done to make her day a little brighter.
    • When the year gets crazy-nuts, stopping to think again: Who do I need to re-connect with?
  • Some books on the power of language with one another (I’d love more suggestions for this list):

August was #ConnectedEducator month. I now think September through next August should be #ReConnecting year.

I’d love to re-connect with you — please add some comments and reflections of other ways you are, or can imagine being, re-connected with your connections both online and off. Or tweet me on twitter. Or ask “what’s new with you?” on the street. And repeat often with others.

11 Responses to “#ReConnecting ConnectedEd”

  1. Joan Cansdale September 2, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    Thanks for the little push, Chris. I’ve become a bit of a lurker and re-tweeter this summer – time to get back to being a contributor, just as we encourage our students to do in the classroom! I love the idea of just asking, “What have you been up to?” So simple. I already see lots of potential in my Twitter connections. Let the re-connecting commence!

    • Chris Lehman September 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

      Yay! And let’s be sure to always re-connect, love your insights.

  2. aruddteacher100 September 2, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

    Chris,
    Good luck on the first day of k-I felt like there was a gigantic lump in my throat on my son’s first day 4 years ago…I still vividly remember that feeling.
    Your post about connecting is spot on! Truly connecting with people via tweets and blogs thru comments matters-it grows the connection dendrites! And then reconnecting once those connections occur is so important too! I like your thinking about the “reconnecting year”! Thanks for the post!

    • Chris Lehman September 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

      Thanks (and thanks for the K reassurances! It’s coming up in just a few days, she’s excited. We’re excited-petrified-amazed-it’sgoingtoofast-proud.)

  3. Allison Jackson September 2, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Chris, when you told us, during your session on struggling, I mean “striving”, writers and informational writing at the June Writing Institute that your newest recommendation for professional developmet was Twitter I was skeptical. But I trusted you and jumped in. I’ve mostly just been eavesdropping, and have discovered so much. Now you might even be inspiring me to participate.

  4. chartchums September 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    What a lovely post to keep us grounded in what really matters. Back to school time is so packed with action, action, action that we don’t stop to savor reactions and let that lead the interaction. Thanks Chris, for this kind and powerful reminder that without the other half, our relationships are are meaningless. (I may also have to admit Tim Gunn may not actually be my best friend in real life based on this)

    • Allison Jackson September 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

      Love your blog/site, and have just ordered your book Smarter Charts. Now the hard part: waiting for it to arrive! I teach 3rd grade but think your book will still be helpful to me. I have recommended your book and blog to all the K-2 teachers at my school.

  5. Eric September 2, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    Thanks for the reminder. I, too, have told others that the best pd I’ve experienced is through Twitter. It’s also the primary means to my staying current. While I find myself sharing posts with others through both email and Twitter, I know I don’t comment as often as I should. To help myself with this, I am setting a goal to comment on at least one post a week. Now the hard part will be to set the time aside to meet my goal.

    • Allison Jackson September 2, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

      I am in the same place as you re: commenting. Love your suggestion to comment on one post per week, and like you am wondering how to create the time to do so. I am counting this reply as my first step in meeting that goal- for me it has to be baby steps.

      • Chris Lehman September 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

        From both of your inspiration (Eric, Allison) I went to a few blogs and made a point to leave a comment. …now I have to remember to re-connect another time!

      • Allison Jackson September 3, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

        You inspire us, we inspire you… the power of being connected, right?!
        I struggle with thinking I’m not original enough to post on Twitter, for example, but what I am good at is recognizing something good when I see/hear it, and I can always comment on someone else’s tweet or blog post. Just lilke with our students, you never know what your little comment might mean to someone else.

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