Connecting and Relationships

Today was Day 2 of ConnectEd Canada (#ConnectEdCA). My brain is swirling with incredible ideas, conversations, personal narratives. My takeaway from the last two days is reinforcing the idea of finding meaning through the relationships that you build.

In every session I’ve attended today, as well as the speakers from yesterday, there was some degree of discussion about connecting to other people…

  • Intentionally making everything you do personal.
  • Sharing yourself.
  • Trusting those around you enough to share what is most meaningful to you.
  • Building and nurturing relationships, both in person and virtually through social media.

Tom Fullerton talked this morning about “teaching from the inside out.” He asked those of us in his session to reflect on practitioner research, making professional development meaningful and personal for educators, and helping educators become “translucent cocoons.” When you are transparent in your own learning as a teacher, the process should be visible while it’s occurring.

Rodd Lucier and Zoe Branigan-Pipe shared experiences from Unplug’d 2011. Again, so much of the discussion centered around nurturing relationships and trust in those relationships. I really loved hearing the stories about the Unplug’d event and how great it was to unplug from “the world”  for an extended weekend… but then continuing those stories once they plugged back in. You can learn more about it here: 

It’s so interesting to me that many people I know only in face-to-face situations hassle me about my relationships that are mostly online. I often hear, “but those people aren’t your REAL friends” or “don’t you think that social media is superficial? Aren’t we just ‘liking’ and ‘friending’ our way into not having to deal with people face-to-face? What about social skills?”  I try to explain how social media can enhance a relationship that might not happen otherwise. Some of my most treasured friendships started with people I met on Twitter. I am working in a school of my dreams because of Twitter!

So it fascinates me that the most repeated phrases of this education conference have been about creating relationships and sharing yourself with others… and continuing to cultivate those relationships through some type of social media after the conference ends. The people here get that, and I feel so grateful and lucky to be here. I flew all the way to Canada to connect with people that I had only met on Twitter. With the exception of George Couros (whom I had met on Twitter before meeting in person at EduCon in 2011), I hadn’t met anyone else in person until Thursday evening.

Most importantly, perhaps, is what this all speaks about teaching and learning. As educators, we must work diligently to create caring relationships with students, parents, community, and each other:

  • sharing our successes, as well as our failures
  • building trust
  • creating a safe environment where we can share our personal narratives
  • holding each other accountable
  • working together to celebrate our common goals AND diversity
What a great conference this has been so far… I can’t wait to meet more people tomorrow!

9 thoughts on “Connecting and Relationships

  1. Bill Ferriter

    Great bit, Pal.

    In schools, I think relationships are dying too — but that’s not because of technology.

    Instead, it’s because of massive curricula which make it impossible to invest time into developing relationships and because of #highstakes which turn kids into numbers in our minds.

    It’s hard to value the students who sit in front of us as something more than simple bodies when our careers increasingly depend on their ability to master the content that we’re cramming down their throats.

    Thanks for making me think about this. It’s something I needed to be reminded of.

    Rock on,

    PS: Any karaoke?

    • Michelle Baldwin

      Thanks for the comment, Bill! It was really refreshing to be here this weekend, because the focus definitely wasn’t the same as a lot of the US conversations. Still thinking about how we in the US need to take charge and force change to happen.

      One thing that really made me smile were the kids at Calgary Science. In fact, many of them said a lot of the same things that the students at Anastasis are saying… love school, love learning, get the opportunity to really dig deeper in their learning, etc. Reinforces everything we’re doing at our school! 🙂

  2. Hey Bill,
    Just to answer the question about karaoke: Yes. (And this girl can sing!)

    It’s been great to put a voice and personality to the person I’d barely begun to know on Twitter. 🙂

    • Michelle Baldwin

      Thanks, Rodd! Meeting you this weekend was definitely a highlight for me! Thank you for sharing your experiences… I look forward to continue learning with you!

      Appreciate the karaoke nods, gentlemen. It’s always a good time when we’re all singing and dancing! 🙂

  3. Bill Ferriter

    No joke, Rod — Michelle RULES the karaoke stand.

    Definitely a pro.

    It’s not REALLY fair, though. She IS a music teacher!

    Glad y’all are having fun…


  4. It was great to meet you (and all of your luggage) Michelle! 😉
    As I said in my 1st day reflection, ‘I’m once again blown away by the connections I have with people I’ve never before met face-to-face… I find it hard to describe meeting great, long-time friends… for the very first time. The lines between ‘digital’ vs ‘in-real-life’ friendship have truly blurred for me over the past 7 years. Geography is no longer a barrier to friendship.’
    More reflections to come, it was a very special event.
    Great to connect and thanks to our online connections, we’ll know each other even better, the next time we ‘meet’.

    • I will never live down the luggage, will I? 😉 Meeting you in person was definitely a highlight of the conference for me! Looking forward to keeping up with you on Twitter!

  5. I agree. It was very powerful to be with a group of like-minded educators that were so focused on positive transformations. The twitter relationships that existed prior enabled everyone to connect in person much faster. I really loved your creativity session, too!

    • Thanks, Sarah! I loved everyone’s contributions to the curiosity conversation! Isn’t it great what we can do together… and then continue through networks using Twitter and blogs? LOVE this! So glad we’re connected now!

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