Building a #PLN all starts with a connection. Connection is how friendships start, how passion grows, and how we support others on this educational journey. Connections help us to be better educators and colleagues. It enables us to make more of an impact in people’s lives and dramatically enriches our own lives.
Connecting with others and building a team of encouraging, supportive, passionate educators is incredibly essential to a fantastic year in the classroom/school. Connecting with people who have common interests and personalities is inspiring because we “get” each other.
As we revisit live connections, let’s make sure to take full advantage of the opportunity to reengage with so many other outstanding educators. Over the last 18 months, our connections have been tremendous but breed out of a need on the computer, not by choice. Connections without just screens can open up a fulfilling type of connection we’ve been without this last year. During the pandemic, my screens are all I have to connect with others. But not moving forward. Yes, I will still utilize the technology to communicate with my Global PLN but will maximize IRL connecting.
When we connect with others in person, try not to think about what went wrong in the past 18 months. Yes, I am sure it will come up, but we are fully available to the present moment and the shared experience we are having. So maximize it.
This brings me to the heart of this post. We have been “solo” for 18 months. Now that we are not, take Usies when you are with your PLN.
You say the word selfie, and so many images come into your mind (and some you don’t want). But mostly, it is ONE person taking a photo of themselves. By definition, a selfie is a self-photo done with a smartphone held in your hand so you can share it on social media. I mean, really, we as a society have designed a tool (selfie stick) to take better and more scenic self-photos.
I do not want to get into the psychology of a selfie, but people are drawn by how easy and speedy they can create and share. Moreover gives the photographer control over how they present themselves. I see four categories for selfies.
- Show what you look like at that given moment.
- Build a brand.
- To get attention, “look at me.”
- You are bored.
The word social is in social media. Social media is about being social! Some people don’t need a real reason to do it or have a negative spin; they do it because they like to do it, it’s fun, and it’s a cool way to document a trip or an event. Or really to have fun and share with friends who might not be with you, and that is cool – and I have done it!! I have been there done that.
However, this notion of “self” got me thinking after writing Power of Connections. I never talked about self in the book and I focused more on “us” and “we”
The heartbeat of the book is from experiences with PEOPLE. Not just flying solo. Reid Hoffman wrote, “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” So this notion of Self, why are we highlighting it? Especially in a profession where we go to work and often shut the door and are by ourselves.
Change is hard, and sometimes schools are unwilling to change due to many factors (already high achieving, possible union push back, consistent turnover, and so on). However, moving outside your comfort zone and into the learning zone is a step to breaking down school silos. When teachers work in a silo, it limits the collective thinking or brainstorming critical to innovative ideas that can transform teaching and learning. With skilled educators and the digital resources of today, we have ideas and strategies available 24/7. We have the power to shift a school into a collaborative community and to have critical conversations about exciting and innovative change in schools.
So this brings me back to selfies. Why not take and share USies whenever possible. Take more photos with MANY people. You can still use your phone and point it at yourself, just do it with “all of us” to share the moment not only on social media but in live time. The power of social media is bringing people together. Use that to share your experiences and knowledge. Take some USies to share the experience both in the moment and with those who could not be there. Even if connecting online, take an Usie with the room!!
Social connections are the threads that bind our communities together. By prioritizing human interactions and finding meaningful ways to connect during this time of physical distance and social isolation, we can support each other and our own health and well-being. Here are some of my favorite Usies post-vaccination, and yes, pets count in the “us” mentality!! To learn more about the book, check out xfactor.link/pocamazon or for a signed copy visit xfactor.link/order