Two things happened this week that ultimately resulted in this blog post. The first thing was the Connect 2015 Conference in Niagara Falls. This is a learning and technology conference that I’ve heard a lot about, but never attended. For me, I always find that it comes at a challenging time of the year: usually during Education Week, often during one of the days of Open House, and never at a time when I feel that I can leave. I’ve always enjoyed reading the tweets from people that are there, and I’ve always secretly wished that I was going. This year though, I was really sad not to be there. In fact, on Wednesday morning as I was looking through the tweet stream, I was actually holding back tears. I wanted to go! Why? I think that it was because of the people. So many educators and administrators that inspire me daily were there, and I wanted to connect with them. I wanted to learn with them. I wanted “my people.”
Please do not get me wrong. I work at an incredible school with so many wonderful people. They make me think. They share ideas. They truly care about kids. I’m one of the “lucky ones” and I know that. But I also know that I have some interests in education that may vary from some of my colleagues. That’s okay. We’re all different! And that’s why I feel fortunate to get to learn from others online that share these similar interests and support me in these other areas. The ability to meet and talk to these people face-to-face (some of whom I’ve never met before, but would love to) just take this learning to a whole new level. I’m sure the Connect Conference is amazing! I read incredible tweets about the keynote speakers and the various sessions, but my desire to go is about more than what happens inside these sessions: it’s about the chance to make connections, share ideas, and leave inspired. Next year, I’m determined to take a day and make it to Connect … because I know it’s what I need.
It was only a couple of days after figuring this out that I was sitting in a meeting at the Board Office. I’m one of the representatives on the NTIP Steering Committee. Our committee discussion revolved a lot around mentorship and the possible structure of the program in our Board. As we were discussing mentorship, an important point was made that really got me thinking: we can always find people to support us. This is so true! Even as a so-called “experienced teacher,” I never need to feel like I’m alone. I think that the world of social media takes mentorship to a whole new level. I’m lucky to have many “mentors”: with tweets, blogs, FaceBook pages, Yammer posts, and in-school and out-of-school partnerships, there’s no limit to those people that can support us, inspire us, make us wonder, and help us improve. These people are probably not the same for all of us. We all have different interests, strengths, and needs. But I hope, that like me, you can connect to your “many people,” as this is how we continue to grow.
Where and how do you find “your people?” What impact do you think that these connections have had on your professional growth? I’d love to hear your stories! I’m very sorry that I missed the face-to-face time with some of “my people” this week, but I’m glad that I could still make the online connections. As Eric Sheninger mentions in this tweet …
I hope that my path crosses with many different people in the coming years. Whether as adults or as students, connections matter. People matter. We all need “our people!”