Posted in Personal, Reflection, Technology

Do you mind if I join you?

This is how I think.  This is what it took to get the thinking out of my brain and onto this blog post.  It has been one week since I attended TEDxOntarioEd.  One week of sticky notes scribbled in the car (yes, while driving), more tiny papers shoved in my backpack during meetings, many conversations with colleagues and finally one organized mind-map tonight in order to try to capture everything that has been spinning around in my head, in no apparent order.

TEDxOntarioEd offered many inspiring speakers who were able to move me in both professional and personal ways.  I truly enjoyed how @JesseBrown touched upon the value of visuals for many of our learners.  He was able to take an idea and bring about its brilliance in order to touch our students in the classrooms today through Bitstrips.  I also enjoyed listening to @zbpipe share how her mother was one of her greatest inspirations in her career, and connected with that.  I was also moved by @Timthestudent and how brave he was to stand and deliver a message to teachers on how he would appreciate to be viewed as a student.  Does he realize his own potential as a change agent?

However, one of the greatest personal reflections of the evening came through an adlib segment from @danmisener who shared a story involving a root canal and how it relates to why we do what we do (you might have had to be there – but you can listen to a podcast here that @benhazzard has captured).  Do we do our best for someone else?  Or do we do our best just because it’s the right thing to do for ourselves?

An equally exciting facet of the whole evening was connecting with people I had only met online through Twitter (insert eye roll now if you have to – I’m getting use to it).  There is no way to explain what it felt like when @KimMcGill tapped me on the shoulder with that quizzical look saying “Kelly?”  Our eyes met, there was instant connection, the smile and then the hug.  We had only communicated online and it was as if we’d known each other in so many ways.  Then to meet her daughter @MegaTronMcGill and let her know how much I appreciated the Flickr pictures her mother had been sharing.  I’m not sure she was impressed that I had seen her in that way, cupcakes and all, but it helped with the connection.  Others also commented on my own children – on Julia’s intense energy level and Jesse’s highly reflective nature.  And nobody had ever met them.  All this “knowing” was learned over the net.  Together we marveled at how many of us were meeting for the first time.  You heard things like “Oh, @digitalnative is over there, or @aforgrave is over here, or @MindShareLearn guy” – not Colin, or Andy, or Robert, but their twitter names.  That’s how we knew each other.  I’d see two more people introduce themselves to each other for the first time F2F, and then realize they hadn’t met before either.  Wow.  It was just mind-boggling.

This was further magnified later in the evening when I was engaged in a very comfortable conversation with a colleague regarding an A&E project after the event.  That’s when @grahamwhisen came up to our table and asked “Do you mind if I join you?”  That comfortable conversation turned awkward for a moment.  It was awkward until we filled the time with a sharing of nametags and twitter names.  That turned into “Oh, I think I read your blog recently” and then all of a sudden the connections were made.  We “knew” each other.  This resulted in a fabulous conversation throughout the evening with @Sharon_Drummond, @Terrentius, @MattWalkinshaw as well as @grahamwhisen who decided to blog about this new phrase “The New Way of Knowing”.

For me, TEDxOntarioEd was about making connections.  Making connections in my professional role, with people I had either met through work, or on-line, in a forum where we were all gathering with a common purpose.  The purpose was to further discover how to motivate our students to realize their greatest potential.  At this event, I felt that everyone in the room was connected in an unexplainable way.  And it reminded me that it’s all about relationships.

How do we teach our students that it’s all about relationships?  How do we teach them the courage to sit down at a table filled with strangers and take that risk to say “Do you mind if I join you?”  Imagine the learning involved if we could teach them to just embrace those opportunities to connect and learn from others around them.


Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board Vice-Principal

4 thoughts on “Do you mind if I join you?

  1. What a great reflection. Does it feel good to get in down and off those scraps of paper? 🙂 You have written something that captures an (the?) important aspect of these events in a perfect way. It really nudges me to attend any that I can.

    To answer some of your questions at the end, I will suggest William Kist’s “The Socially Networked Classroom.” I heard him through a Steve Hargadon interview and originally thought the book was all about Facebook, etc. But that is not even close. The premise is to create ways our students can get to know each other and create a more socially connected classroom environment, with or without technology. I am only done with chapter 2 and have many ideas and activities to include in my classroom.

    1. Thank you. Yes, Tom. Getting rid of the stack of sticky notes does give me a sense of closure around this. 🙂 Thank you for the book recommendation. I will add it to my list. Perhaps its time to take a poll of our next #edbookclub book.

  2. This is a great reflection Kelly. I am glad that you brought up Dan Meisner’s story about the root canal. I have not read anyone else blog about it and I almost forgot, but I really like the story also. I think that it speaks to educators because we are so motivated in “our craft”, yet very few people will ever see what we do! In fact, in many cases even WE wont see what we “do” because the success of our students may be far down the line!

    On a more personal note … did you really feel that I made the conversation awkward? I will have to work on my first impressions … 🙂

    1. Great point Graham. I often wonder about some of my students who were experiencing great challenges in their lives when I was teaching them. Students who provided excellent learning opportunities for my growth and helped define me as a teacher as well. I’d love to find out if I truly had an impact through my actions.

      And on that personal note of yours… it wasn’t YOU who made the conversation awkward, your first impression was just fine. It was an awkward moment of transition, welcoming you to the table that was engrossed in a deep discussion. I am very thankful for the connections you brought together that night. It was wonderful watching more chairs pop up next to our group, and to have other people want to connect. There were good things happening. Thank you for making me realize that I have to get better at trying things like “Do you mind if I join you?” That’s what has been resonating the most with me.

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