I'll preface this post by saying that I talk too much. It is not uncommon for me to take a 10 or 15 minute block of time during the day, find another teacher who doesn't have students, and chat them up until I have to race back to my class. No work done, no items marked off the checklist, and nothing new created.
But was it a waste of time? Some would say yes, but I say no.
Yesterday I attended #edcampec (Edcamp Eau Claire, WI). I was lucky enough to have some people come with me, including my wife, and normally that is what would make an event like that a success. But, thanks to Twitter and other events I have attended, they weren't the only people I know. I can't describe how great it felt to hear Joe Sanfellipo ask me how I was doing as he vigorously shook my hand, or the tweet Curt Rees sent me to help him with a tech issue. Others throughout the day (Beth Lisowski, Jess Henze, Tom Whitford, Kaye Henrickson, and John Gunnell) I had also met, and they made me feel like I was an old friend, even though I've barely spoken to them face to face.
That kind of connection with educators is so powerful. It drives me to be better because I rarely feel worthy enough to have people that I respect so much treat me like I'm as awesome as they are. I want to live up to that.
Listening and engaging in other conversations throughout the day continued to stretch and make me want to take on the world all over again. I can't say that I learned as much at this edcamp as others, BUT the connections and reconnections that I made were awesome and made it a truly amazing Saturday. To share that with my wife and brother in law and father in law was great. I hope they also go to see how amazing those types of connections are.
Confidence is pretty intangible. But whether it is the conversation with great educators outside my sphere, or the ones next door, I feel so much more energized after each time. I obviously want something constructive to come out of conversations, but building relationships with our colleagues is as important, in my opinion, as with students. We have to feel comfortable to share with those we work with if we want to foster an environment of collaboration.
I'm not hugely social, but I understand how crucial these connections are, and the way they make me feel help me take on the enormous challenges we face as educators day after day.
So thanks to you that let me take up your time by letting me chat your ear off. You'll probably never know how much those conversations mean to me. And for everyone else - get out and talk to some people and be open to all conversations - you never know where the connections will lead. At the very least, you can share your excitement and concerns with someone who understands! The value of that can't be understated.
Make time to talk.