Monday, December 12, 2016

The Beauty of Connections

The beauty of connection. I'm a techie by nature and if you haven't noticed, techie people tend to be introverts instead of extroverts. It doesn't bother me to connect with people via technology. To be honest, I could say I even prefer it at times. Often times. I mean I do extroverting well (I think I just made a word), but the conciseness of text and email fulfills my efficiency loving heart in big ways. And yet...

Over the past few weeks I find myself really realizing what face to face does for me that technology does not. I'm reading a book called "Technology vs Humanity" and it's really made me stop and question much of who I am and who I want to be. There are no challenges for the reader to change in the book but it has caused me to want to do an experiment on myself to see where I am regarding where I start and technology ends or vice versa. Do I even know?

I have had the honor of presenting at TETC this past week with my friend Greg Bagby. We've worked together to share things we've learned in our prospective roles in education with others. As the three days went along I grew connections that began online (some at the convention, some in previous years) to stronger face to face relationships. I have "go to people" that I can seek out when trying to make edtech decisions. I have voices that helps me think beyond the echo chamber in my head and my close friends.

I can say the same about coffeeEDU that happens once a month in Chattanooga (usually on the second Saturday of the month). I talk, I listen, I hear the worries, angst, and successes of other educators and I grow from that. It's always a well spent hour each month for me.

Face to face relationships connect us with those we enjoy being with and those we don't. But regardless, they grow us to think outside our own thoughts- beyond our comfort zone. Some days I feel like it's against my will-that I force myself to be social- but I always walk away with a fuller heart from connecting with others.

The transparency of allowing someone into your inner thoughts is quite beautiful. Twice this past week I was left with two face to face conversations that I keep rehashing and growing in my mind...

1. I always enjoy talking with Chris Tenbarge because he drops nuggets of wisdom on me in his quiet demeanor. He said something to the effect that we as educators protect and value "knowledge" much more than today's students because they see knowledge as being in their back pocket (their phone) available whenever they need it. After mulling around on this idea myself and during coffeeEDU I came away with the question "how do we get students to understand information isn't knowledge?" The magnitude of that question seems huge to me.

2. Leaving coffeeEDU at GPS in Chattanooga on Saturday I was walking to my car with Niki Ellis (director of upper school curriculum and instruction at CCS) and she said something to the effect that "technology is no longer a tool in the classroom but a medium." I had this AHA! moment as I drove away. I agree that it is definitely a means to educating in today's world but I also see it just being used as a tool as well. Is one way better than the other? Are both acceptable uses of technology in education? 

As I listened to the keynotes speaking at TETC I found myself jealous that they could "get away with" saying the things they said to the crowd- admonishing closed mindedness regarding tech usage. I did appreciate Steven Anderson's mention that he doesn't think flipped classrooms are a good thing but he continues to go to sessions regarding flipped learning so that he can keep learning and processing regarding it.

May I never find myself closed minded enough to not listen to the views and needs of others. May I always value and respect those with different views than my own in a positive and honoring way. May I be willing to have face to face conversations with others even when they are hard. May I continue to grow in who I am as an educator and a leader from those far and near.