“What amazes me about Americans,” said my Italian tour guide friend while sitting on a train zipping along towards Rome, “is that they always need to connect themselves somehow with the person they have just met. It doesn’t matter what the connection is, but one must be made.”
It’s true. We work hard to find common ground with the people around us, even when they are strangers. Sometimes it is easy to find that connection, but other times it turns out to be pretty tricky. Listen carefully sometime when two people meet for the first time–it’s a conversation to find something in common. We love connecting with people!
Our connections are important to us. When we don’t feel connected, our well-being falters. I’ve experienced that lately in my teaching life, because I have struggled to find a connection with my colleagues around the literacy learning that I have come to value and love. I’ve been excited to process new ideas and big aha moments. I’ve longed to ask questions and pick the brains of others who are struggling with the same issues that perplex me. And I’ve been eager to shout from the rooftops about the voices I’m listening to online. I’ve really just wanted to have someone nearby who understands what I am thinking about and shares the same excitement.
I coach in two amazing schools. I work alongside colleagues who are thoughtful about their teaching and love their students. I treasure their friendships and feel like in each building I am part of a supportive team. It’s just that I feel a little bit like I’ve landed in Narnia with all of the online tweets, blog posts, and PD that I’ve found. And when I look around, I’ve felt like Lucy exploring Narnia all by herself. And that has felt a little bit lonely and off-center for someone like me who loves connecting.
I was reminded today (shoutout to Fran at franmcveigh.wordpress.com) that I AM connected! Not only am I making new connections with teachers around the world who share my avid interests through my online participation, but there really are a few people right nearby to encourage me and share my excitement. And a few strong connections like that are all I need to get my equilibrium back and move forward as a teacher-learner. My Italian friend on the train was absolutely right—as soon as I found my connection, I felt secure and optimistic about my place in the school universe.
I’ll continue to share what I learn in Educational Narnia with my colleagues a bit at a time, and maybe one or two will end up hopping into the wardrobe with me. But in the meantime, I feel incredibly blessed to have the handful of people within arms’ reach who share my delight with the online community and all the new connections I am making with teachers around the world. They lift me up!
Now…if only I could find some geocaching cross-stitchers who struggle with the compulsive collecting of scrapbooking supplies to talk to, I’d be ALL SET!!