As I sit at a coffeeshop in beautiful Milwaukee, the Stereo MC song "Gotta Get Yourself Connected" comes to mind. I just spent two days with amazing educators from around the US and beyond at USM Summer Spark Innovation Symposium. To be honest, I'm coming off of the conference high. There are no words to explain how electrifying it is to be surrounded by inspiring like-minded people who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of kids.
As I reflect on the experience, I keep thinking about how amazing it was to connect with so many from my Twitter PLN during my time here. These educators have encouraged, inspired and helped me grow in my profession and to meet them face to face is nothing short of spectacular. They are more than a PLN; I consider them my friends.
Ironically, as I was eating dinner with my Twitter friends the other night, my phone alerted me that I had reached 1,000 Twitter followers. To me the number itself didn't matter, but what it represented. It was the friendships, the support, and the encouragement that I wouldn't have ever experienced otherwise. To me it's not about gaining followers, it's about joining forces with educators from around the world to make a difference in education.
How do I explain to others how powerful it is to be a connected educator? How do I explain the friendships I have made with people I have never actually met. So often I share my passion for being a connected educator with others, only to be met by blank stares. I so desperately want them to understand how life-changing it has been for me; how I have grown exponentially as an educator as my network has developed. What is striking to me is the realization that these same people I'm trying to convince to connect, have probably had less glimpses into my classroom than those I communicate with on Twitter. We are all better together. I am challenged to not only connect at a deeper level beyond my school walls, but within them as well.
So as I finish my latte, my time in Milwaukee, and the 2015-16 school year, I am reminded of this. We need each other. We need to be intentional about building relationships and connecting. The inspiration, support, and encouragement we gain from those both around us and in the twittersphere is powerful. You've gotta get yourself connected.....
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.