Connections, Thoughts

The Power of Connecting

quote-connecting

Create connections.  What does that really mean?  “Being connected is about getting to know new people who can stretch your thinking but also sharing knowledge to help make schools stronger than they once were.  Being connected is about sharing best practices.

No one person is smarter than the collective ideas and thoughts of everyone together. Individually we may have expertise, but that expertise is made stronger through connecting and sharing with others. (DeWitt, Peter – 15 Reasons Why Educators Should Be Connected, Link: http://corwin-connect.com/2015/03/15-reasons-why-educators-should-be-connected/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=email_this&utm_source=email))

I always felt that I made positive connections and shared with others, but I tended to play it safe and work with those in my immediate surroundings.  However, in the process of planning for professional development, I made a conscious effort to connect “outside my comfort zone”.   What if I partnered with someone I didn’t know that well?  What if I branched out and tried something new and different?  What if a fifth grade teacher and a high school art teacher had something to share with others? Well, it was worth a try.  Instead of joining the colleagues I worked with every day, I chose someone from across the room, someone who was sharing ideas very similar to mine.  The minute I sat down with her, I felt like a met my match.  She had already sketched out ideas and made a list – just like I had done.  Her “wheels” spin as fast as mine do.  The more we talked, the more I knew that this new partnership was going to be a “game changer”.

As we have gotten to know each other during the summer, we have found many more similarities than differences.  We compliment each other.  We work well together.  We challenge each other’s thinking.  Together, we are an inspirational whirlwind – look at there’s always something brewing.

We are a symbiotic pair.  We both benefit from our collaboration and newfound friendship.  The power of our thoughts and ideas increases, grows, and develops.  I am excited to see where our journey may lead.  Thank you Karen, for traveling with me!

Reflecting, sharing, and collaborating are at the core of good teaching and learning.  During this year, we hope help each other to tell our stories.  As you head into the start of a new year, create some new connections.  When sharing thoughts and ideas, make sure you add some new chapters to your story.  Look outside your “circle”, connect with someone from across the room, widen your horizons, and remain open to new possibilities.  As this new year begins, challenge yourself to try something new, create a new connection. Who knows where it will take you?

Thoughts

The Teacher I Am Today

IMG_1408Yesterday, I had the pleasure of having lunch with this wonderful group of women.   These women are intelligent, kind, funny, brave, strong, independent, and amazing.  Who are they?  For many years they were my colleagues, teaching alongside me. Along the way, we became friends.  Today, all but one is retired.  They were there when I was getting started as a teacher.  They were the “experienced” ones and I was the new teacher.

Coincidentally, later that afternoon I was scheduled to welcome the new staff to our district.  One of the reasons I felt compelled to volunteer to greet our new staff was because of these ladies.  I wanted to give back what they had given me.    These women played such an important role in shaping me as a educator and human being.   They were the veterans and experienced ones.   This year,  I will be  the “veteran” teacher in my school and I hope I am able to do for others what was done for me.   They taught me what it means to be a teacher by their words and more importantly by their actions.  I was blessed to have such wonderful role models and guides.  Each one taught me something special and unique.  They weren’t assigned to be my mentors, but they “took me under their wings” and contributed a piece to my puzzle.  I learned so many things from my unofficial mentors – organization, parent communication, classroom management, interacting with peers, standing up for myself, identifying learning problems. pacing my lessons, connecting with students, loving my job – the list goes on.  They helped me develop my core values and beliefs about teaching and learning.  They taught me the importance of asking questions, getting involved, showing confidence, and respecting others.  They celebrated my successes and stood by me in difficult times.  I learned that a good teacher is first a good person.  I learned a good teacher is always a learner and lover of knowledge.  I learned that if I did what was in the best interest of my students, I was making the right decision.  So today, I say thank you to the “retired” teachers.  Thank you for sharing the best of you with me.  Thank you for making me the teacher I am today!

Thoughts

Summertime classroom

Well, it’s almost that time again, so I decided to pop into my classroom for my annual inaugural visit. I love coming to school in the summer when no one else is there.  Even after almost 30 years of teaching, there’s something magical and serene about being in my room.  I still need to spend that first day sitting at my desk, looking around, twiddling , my thumbs, pondering the thought of a new group of students, another new year.. I “putter” around a bit, but nothing actually gets accomplished that first day.  I love the quietness and opportunity to reflect.  The classroom is filled with empty  desks spread out into rows, but they won’t stay that way for long.  The challenge this year is – where to put everyone ? Six more desks than last year.  Who will be sitting in those seats? What will this class bring to the table?  Will they love reading and writing? What should we do that first day?

I start to unpack a few boxes, rearrange some furniture, dig through my closet and find all the items I hastily tossed at the end of the year.  You’d think by now, I’d be better organized.  I come across pictures, notes, and letters from last year’s class.  I reminisce a bit – it’s always time for them to move in to middle school.  My thoughts linger on certain ones- how will they fare? I worry about some in particular, others I know are up for the change.  They are still “my kids”. However, I know they always come back those first days of the new year to touch base and share their stories.

I move a desk here and there and then get distracted by something else.  I dust off the shelves in the library. I unpack another box or two, move one pile from one part of the room to another making way for a new crew.

It’s not long before the heat gets the better of me, and I decide to call it a day.  I know there will be many more visits before September.  Today was my day, just for me.  It’s one of my most treasured days- I still get excited that I’m really the teacher in this room and can’t wait for another year filled with adventure and learning new things.