The power of connection

Screenshot 2014-10-04 20.08.32
Photo Credit: Kieran Gillard via Compfight cc

It’s Connected Educator Month. There are many great activities and options for teachers who want to get connected for the first time or who are already connected and want to expand their connections. For me, it has been a time to renew some of acquaintances with some blogs I haven’t visited in a while and visit some new ones especially those of the rest of the group in ECI831. One of the things that I try to do is engage with the different writers, to leave a comment, ask a questions, offer an insight or just plain tell  them thanks for writing. The main reason I do this is because I believe that it’s important for us to engage in conversations with others and to encourage others in their efforts. With the growth of twitter and other SM platforms, there is an abundance of conversations but, for me, the growth and development potential only happens once those conversations shift to impacting what teachers are doing their classrooms and reflecting on their practice. Conversations are great but if they don’t translate into action and change, then they are just conversations.

Connecting Is Important

Connecting with other educators is important and letting them know that what they are doing matters.

I was recently reminded of this while attending my daughter’s White Coat Ceremony for the College of Medicine in Saskatoon. During this event in which first year medical students receive their “white coat”, there are a variety of speakers that talk to the students about being in the medical profession. What struck me was that all the speakers focused on the need to develop relationships with patients, other doctors, the other staff with whom they work, and the community. It was repeated by all speakers the importance of relationships, the need to develop relationships and the how important they were to their development as a professional. In a profession that I have heard as characterized as being advanced because of the  “medical advancements and uses of technology”, the primary message was “RELATIONSHIPS”!

Relationships are so important. They permeate all we do as educators and impact us in so many ways, some that we don’t fully realize. As I was reminded by George Couros in his post about innovation

What I think is different now, and where the technology really gives us an opportunity to be more innovative than ever, is the ability to use the technology to connect with one another.

Connecting and building relationships is so important and opens so many doors for not only teachers but their students. As George says  “Now, we have the chance to move away from “pockets” and move to a “culture” of innovation”! This is SO important. Teachers need to be supported in their endeavours to be INNOVATIVE and building relationships is key to this support.


Connecting – Making it Happen

There are many reasons that teachers find it hard to connect with others. Instead of dismissing this, I believe we really need to listen to what they are saying. In fact, I think it’s crucial to listen as it gives us insight and may even lead to change. Our last #saskedchat discussion was focused on time management which led to this great post by Danielle where she comments

The point is, it’s not hard to find teachers and subjects to collaborate with, the hard part is finding the time and energy. The way our school day/year is set up is not conducive to collaboration. YES, I am the first to admit that’s an excuse, but I honestly have tried. I have such good intentions, and I have talked about it with more than one teacher. It just never seems to happen. There has got to be something systematic that can be done at a division or school wide level that allows for time in the day, (not just my 45 minute day 3 prep) that encourages and supports real collaboration. I am not scared of my admin holding me accountable later… I want them too! 

I’ve heard this echoed by so many teachers. It’s not the accountability that is the issue, it’s the way that things are currently configured that inhibits true collaboration which creates the conditions for innovation to take place. Teachers are busy with initiatives from all levels but is busy the same as being productive? For deep learning to take place, busy isn’t productive. In fact, it distracts people from being able to engage in the conversations and reflection necessary for deep learning to take place. Being busy keeps teachers from developing deep relationships with students. But let’s not forget that there are MANY teachers who are trying. If relationships are the foundation of learning, which I believe they are, helping all teachers develop an innovative mindset is important but this requires a shift away from busy, busy, busy.  To echoes George’s words

For educators to embody this, it is imperative that leaders create a culture where this types of characteristics are not only accepted, but encouraged.  It is also imperative that at both the leadership and whole organization level, these characteristics are embodied.  

Do we want students who are good at busy or are innovative? If it’s the later, then we need to listen to what teachers are saying and make changes the shift learning towards deep learning not busy learning.

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I am a husband, father, son.... I am currently working on my PhD in Education - Curriculum and Instruction. My focus is teacher professional development and social media integration. I have a beautiful, supportive wife who has been my partner for 28 years. We have 8 wonderful children who are amazing individuals. Together, we are exploring the world around us, sharing our stories, and enjoying the journey!


  1. This is a great post Kelly, it really made me think and reflect on the work I am giving my students. Am I allowing them to be innovative or busy?
    Thanks for posting!

    • Thanks Lisa. I know that sometimes it is difficult to shift the mindset from “busy” to deep and innovative. That is why I believe that it’s so important to give students time to slow down and delve deeply into something, work with it and use the ideas in a number of different ways. Thanks for your input!

  2. Deep learning and deep relationships are crucial in real success. I notice a huge difference in the classes that I teach when I start off the class asking how they are doing and to share something that is going on in their life. This is such a simple gesture and it takes a minimal amount of time. I find that our class runs so much smoother after this point. By asking the question, ‘how are you?’, I am asking for an invitation into their life, I am letting them know that I care and I am interested. There is always far too much curriculum to cover, but somehow it seems more enjoyable when I know who I am working with.

  3. Thanks for the great post Kelly. I too am in the ‘busy’ camp looking longingly at the innovators across the road. How do we get there? I would agree with Danielle in thinking a systematic shift is necessary.
    Thanks for the great links…wish I had more time to investigate them further;)!

    • Raelynn, notice that it’s taking me some time to get back to you which is a sign that things are really busy. It’s great to have connections and be connected. The learning is awesome and there is so many great benefits. I sometimes think that innovators don’t worry about some of the things others do, like reposting or retweeting, but are instead focused on a specific task where they put their efforts. And maybe that’s part of the key, making a shift from being in constant “need to try this mode” to focusing on one area and working at it with a passion.

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