Connections are the Key!

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Welcome to the new year!  I hope everyone’s year has gotten off to a great start.  I know that, for me, this year is the start of many new and exciting adventures, both personally and professionally.  As many of you know, last year was quite a devastating year for me, and BOY!…did I ever learn a lot about family, friends, work, and staying connected!  As we all enter this new year, I encourage you to stay connected, as well.  What does that mean though?  Well, to connect means to establish a relationship or to join by intervening (dictionary.com).  BUT…why is it so important to connect?  Seth Godin, author of The Icarus Deception discusses how we have moved from an industrial economy (one where the product we produce is most important) to a connection economy (one where the connections we make with our audience/customers is most important).  What does that have to do with education?  We make a bigger impact on our campuses and with our students when we make meaningful connections. So, how can we connect?  Well, here are some tips:

  1. See your students and fellow colleagues as people first. Remember, we all have lives outside of our classrooms and workplace. We have parents who may be sick, brothers and sisters who may be getting married or any number of celebrations and problems that affect how we perform and behave in class and in meetings.  We try to separate these worlds, but it is usually in vain. Our lives outside of the classroom matter.
  2. Be vulnerable. It seems in the field of education, perfection is the goal. What an unattainable goal! Perfection is the enemy of innovation and creativity. It is okay to be flawed and to make mistakes, and people need to see that it is okay.  Some of the best coaching experiences I have had have been when a demonstration lesson completely bombed.  By seeing me fail, it allowed the teachers to open up and be comfortable with the fact that every lesson wasn’t going to be a home run, and the world wasn’t going to end if it didn’t go exactly as planned.
  3. Be intentional. If you are like me, connecting doesn’t come naturally. Don’t get me wrong…I love people, but I don’t always know what to say or how to just start conversations.  Ask anyone on my team…networking is painful for me, but I have worked to be more comfortable with it.  I am by nature an introvert who has learned to be extroverted in some circumstances.  The thing is…connecting is not about me. Connecting is about others.  If others need praise or affirmation or to just be asked about their family, then I need to be intentional about doing those things.  I may need to put it on my calendar or make a note to ask about the grandbabies.  The impact it has far outweighs the effort it takes.

So, I give you the challenge that the literacy/GT team is taking on this year: Connect!

Have a wonderful year, and stay connected with us through Twitter! @R10ELA

Robyn Hartzell

Robyn Hartzell

Rebellious Reader & Program Coordinator for ELAR, Library, Dyslexia, and GT/Advanced Academics services

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