I received an email this morning from my friend, and colleague, Kim Lepre. This wasn't all that unusual. Kim often emails school related stuff on the weekends. Even the topic of the email wasn't out of the ordinary for Kim. She's always "finding" things and eagerly sharing them with the rest of us. Don't get me wrong, the idea Kim presented (The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers) is very intriguing. Selecting up to 30 goals to improve your teaching and student learning is quite a challenge. And like most of Kim's ideas, I am eagerly jumping into the boat with her. What's the worst thing that could happen? (A three-hour tour tuned lifetime of eating banana and listening to a coconut radio comes to mind but I'm sure it'll be fine.)
As excited as I am to begin this challenge, what I found really exciting about Kim's email was her proposal that we, the fourteen teachers included on the email, approach this challenge as a community. Kim asked, "If we work towards a collective goal to improve ourselves and our teaching, will it be infectious and spread? Could we help boost the morale in our school?"
I am a little embarrassed this never occurred to me. I started wondering how this happened. How did I miss this? What I came up with is simple and made me want to immediately reach out to Kim and thank her. Teaching, by nature, is a solitary profession. It takes time and effort to stay connected and build relationships with other educators. This is challenging. Because we are physically separated from our colleagues, we can go days with little or no interaction. For me, this has led to feelings of isolation and frustration.
I started reaching out on Twitter, searching for the support and sense of community I felt were missing at my site. The PLN I built though Twitter has been invaluable to me professionally and personally. It has opened me up to new friendships and new avenues of growth, for which I am truly thankful. I could talk about all the amazing people I've met on Twitter for hours but I digress . . .
In her email, Kim included a link to what I thought was the original 30 Goals post. It turned out to be a link to her blog. It struck me that I had no idea she was blogging again. I devoured each of her posts, gaining new insight into my long-time friend with each word. It occurred to me I've been so busy looking outside my school, I completely missed the P2LN I have here at home.
So now I've had my Lepreezy inspired epiphany, what am I going to do about it? I'm going to utilize the resources I have here at home and begin my 30 Goals Challenge with two goals: 1) Cultivating Relationships and 2) Showing Appreciation.
How, you ask. Well, I don't have all the details worked out yet but, off the top of my head, I will make an effort to spend more social time with my colleagues and friends. I tend to work through my lunch, so I will start by going to lunch everyday. I also plan to organizing a staff potluck and attend our monthly happy hour.
As for showing appreciation, I will start today by thanking Kim for giving me this digital wakeup call.
Kim, you are a inspiring teacher. Always looking for ways to engage students and keep them excited about learning. But what impresses me most is how you readily share your passion and effort with your colleagues, too. Helping redesign lessons, researching new technology and mentoring struggling teachers. I am proud to have you as a colleague and a friend.