A Happy Accident

As a lifelong student of history, I am well-aware that the world is full of examples of well-intentioned folks searching for one thing initially and then uncovering something entirely different,  though impactful, nonetheless.

Whether it was Christopher Columbus or Alexander Fleming or Jamie Link, these potential misadventures have changed the world forever.

When I ventured into my Connected Coaching journey nine weeks ago, for me, it was all about the “coaching” piece.  I wanted to learn all I could about improving my coaching skills.  I knew that investment of time for coaching would be a challenge and I wanted to conquer that mountain.  Right away, I embraced with enthusiasm important concepts like appreciative inquiry and empathy, questioning and mindfulness.  I enjoyed many “wanderings” along the way.  I even managed to do some meaningful reflection.  I felt like I was well on my way to becoming a successful coach.

Victory.  But there was more…

As I took my first steps along my journey, I never gave “connected” a second thought.

Heck, I was already “connected.”

After all, I had a Twitter account.  I use Web 2.0 tools in my classroom all the time. I’ve dabbled in Diigo and Delicious.  I am a PLP Peep.  I have over 400 Facebook friends.  I use my Google Reader.  I place Skype calls.  I know how to smile at someone on Elluminate.  I have had meaningful conversations, both online and face-to-face, with the captains of connectivity, Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and Will Richardson. I read The Connected Educator by Sheryl (yes, I call her Sheryl because I’m “connected”) and Lani Ritter Hall. I attended EduCon.  Three times.  Once in a while, I even post on my blog, and, yes, it’s a pro account.

How much more connected can I get?

Much more, in fact.

Being connected goes beyond using the tools.  Being connected is also about relationships.  It’s about leveraging these relationships to enhance your learning and your deep reflections.  It’s about a baseball fan in Minnesota livingin China who gives who you an “a-ha” moment that makes you sit up straight in your bed in the middle of the night.  It’s about “happy grams” from Virginia and affirmations from Kansas.  It’s about celebrating successful students in Alabama.  It’s about garnering pearls of
wisdom from Texas to Norway to Denmark and points in between.  It’s about hearing the familiar echoes of parenting emanating from Canada.  It’s about a compassionate educator from Ohio who shared the tragedy that beset her community school and made you feel the hope in the healing.  It’s being stretched to places in your mind you never knew you could reach by supportive colleagues from across the globe.  It’s about knowing that your next Tuesday night will be drastically different than the nine that preceded it.

So, to my Tuesday night colleagues, thanks for sharing this journey with me.  Thanks for making mestretch, allowing me to grow, and allowing me to aspire toward this “happy accident” of connectivity.  You have changed my world forever.

Dusting Off My Google Reader

     Like an old college textbook, my Google Reader has been left on the shelf to gather dust.

     Not a lot of dust, but dust nonetheless.

     Why did this important piece of Web 2.0 technology get cast aside into the dustbin of cyberspace?

      Blame it on Twitter.

      My use of Twitter to expand my learning network pushed my Google Reader out of the way like a Slinky on December 26 or a Betamax.  All of the bloggers I followed were Tweeting their little hearts out and when I need more information, I relied on the good old fashion favorite bar or (gasp) I even just typed out the URL.  Actually, I was happy, or, better put, I didn’t know what I was missing.

     As part of the PLP Pregame activity, I dusted off my Google Reader.  What a happy reunion it was!  There was my news feed, rolling down the page in an organized manner.  There were my hand-picked bloggers, busting out tomes that were over 140 characters!  I immediately felt guilty for cheating on my G-Reader.

     Here’s a thought: my Google Reader can complement Twitter.  Both can complement the other to create something more exciting, a happy accident, like chocolate and peanut butter.  So Google Reader, I pledge to never shelve you again.  I pledge to use to enhance my PLN.  I pledge to not cast you aside like a busted Slinky.