Share + Connect = Grow
“I realize that it doesn’t matter how much I know or rather how little I know. What matters are the connections that I make, what matters is that we are all specks in the grand scheme of things, but together create something beautiful.”
This is a quote from one of my very first blog posts for COETAIL. It is an explanation of why I chose to name my blog: Speck on the Web. What I find really fascinating is my choice of using the word “Web.” Initially, my use of the word Web was referring to the Web 2.0. I never had really given much thought to the meaning behind that word and realize more now than ever before the connectedness of that word.
Together we do create something beautiful. We create a web of connections, knowledge, encouragement, feedback, sharers, learners; we create a web of people linking to people.
I think back to a few years ago when I first began my journey on Twitter. I met a wonderfully positive and inclusive educator named Zoe Page. She really coached me on the power Twitter had played in her growth professionally. Her enthusiasm was contagious and I decided to join the world of tweeting in September of 2013.
Fast-forward one year later to 2014 and I am encountered with the world of COETAIL. Upon joining I instantly felt like this was something big I wanted to be a part of. I wanted to be a part of learning, growing and sharing with fellow educators like me. I wanted to be involved in a community of growth mindset believers.
If you look over the course of my COETAIL journey, there is definitely a theme of connectedness. This may be the way the courses lend themselves, but I also believe it is a large part of who I am. I enjoy asking questions, seeking out different perspectives and finding professionals that help me grow. I am also continually that I can share and help spark ideas in others.
On September 21st I posted this simple way to keep our anchor chart post-it organized. I never imaged how many times it would keep popping back up in my feed. A month later, I see this post from Kristie Kirk. I smile and think to myself… I sparked an idea! I’m so glad I shared this out.
When I started my COETAIL journey I think I may have had 10 people, okay maybe 30 following me on Twitter. Of course it’s not about the numbers, but it is a tangible way to see how your own personal web is expanding and with each follower and click to follow someone else the possibilities to connect become endless.
I am proud of myself for diving in and getting connected! I am now following 1,014 and have 456 followers. I remember the day I thought I would never get to 100! Each connection holds something special.
Going from the Digital World to the Real World
Meeting Diana B. at our recent iPad conference was a pretty neat experience. Digital connections are powerful, but having a face-to-face interaction and realizing at the end of the day we are all real people with a story is really special. I loved being able to chat with her, pick her brain and even have lunch with her. Connecting with her motivated me to continue to build my PLN because you never know when your paths will actually cross in “real” life and not just digitally.
Flip that! Sustaining Relationships Despite Distance
It’s one thing to finally meet a person you’ve only known digitally, but it’s even more special to maintain in person connections over time and despite distance because of the power of technology.
I have to say one of my favorite things about connecting is when you meet people at a conference or even in a social setting that have similar interests as you; someone that you instantly connect with. I love that I can maintain these relationships digitally since distance can put a damper on things. This summer I had the privilege of attending the Summer Institute for Teaching Writing at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. I was able to tweet, share and read other ideas during the week of learning. I am have become an active member in the TCRWP Twitter community. I try to tweet out things I’m doing in my classroom at least once a week if not more. Amanda Hartman has also started a Facebook page to support teachers who have adopted or are piloting the new units of study. I use Tweet Deck to stay on top of updates within these communities as well as other communities I am invested in.
I left Teacher’s College this summer with one special connection in particular. A kindergarten teacher in California, we have become electronic pen pals. We write each other to ask questions, share ideas and think about ways we can be better at what we do with our kids. She has helped me grow and learn more about myself as both a writer and teacher of writing. I am so thankful that we have technology to keep us connected despite the distance between us. I have a feeling we will be connected for a long time and will make plans to cross paths in real life again. We are hoping to get our students doing some sort of pen paling.
As a result of wanting to maintain connections beyond TC this summer, I also created a private Google+ community for our kindergarten cohort that worked together this summer (although I wish participation was a little more active!) That has been an ah-ha for me as well. Connections are a two way street. Without the other half responding, questioning, answering and sharing… well it’s not really a connection!
I empower YOU, whoever you are. Share your ideas, making your thinking visible with pictures, words, posts, tweets, however you can so that you can make meaningful connections. These things together can only lead to a better version of YOU.