I am a recovering workaholic, with strong relapse tendencies. I like to be in control and project confidence and competence. This "transparent & connected" educator flies in the face of these traits.
I am struggling. And yes, it took me a week to write that simple sentence and even consider posting it. January marked the beginning of my 20th year in education, and I find the tasks and prospects of "connected educator" among the most daunting of my career. Melodramatic? Maybe, but coming from a very real place.
I have been fortunate to have amazing mentors and colleagues on my educational journey, and I have spent my career relying heavily and successfully on trusted people I've known--people who I know, whose work I could see, whose difference I could feel. It is a mind-shift to look to strangers for advice and learning, people I do not know, people whose impact I can't see and feel, people based on a photo and profile. We work in a relationship-centered career, and I am no different than my kids when it comes to connected with people. I am not sure how to find and make those deep connections online and in blips of 144 characters.
Besides relationships, thinking about taking in information in broad-strokes is also different for me. I am a more "search and destroy" information seeker. I head out on a specific mission, with a specific goal, and I search (usually relentlessly) until I find what I need right now. This new perspective asks me to take in information in broader strokes, in a "I might need this someday" approach. Admittedly, I am a bit more drawn to this side of connecting, but in the next breath it is extremely overwhelming because you cannot take everything in. Choices must be made, limits drawn. So where? When? and By what criteria can I choose?
Don't get me wrong, I am willing to take risks I believe in, risks I believe are good for kids. I am passionate about giving my students the best opportunities and learning experience I can. However, we all have a finite amount of time, and in that time we have to fit an endless list of to do items: plan, grade, analyze data, write/revise curriculum, innovate our classrooms, attend meetings, be a parent, spouse, friend, child, sibling...Where does the time to connect happen? What is worth giving up to add this in? I want a value-add for my time, and I don't want social media to overtake my life. In everything I choose to do, I always commit (or not) based on a direct impact to my classroom.
So the journey continues-change is uncomfortable, and unless we are willing to live in the discomfort, we can't continue the journey. It all isn't about how I find a path or meaning in this new aspect of education. It's about the fact that I will put myself out there, push my limits and comforts, and be better simply for that fact.