Are We Really Connecting Anymore?

I cried this morning when I said goodbye to my family.  Not that I am sad to go to North Carolina, but more because the fear of the unknown, going to a conference to present by myself, is something that is hitting me hard.  You see, I am so used to going places where I know people, where I can quickly seek out those few people that I know will introduce me to others, that will hold my hand while I navigate the conference waters.  This time though, I am pretty much flying solo and so I had a decision to make; do I do what I was hired to do; present and then lurk around at sessions without much interaction but still learning, or do I push myself out there, get the most out of this amazing opportunity that has been afforded me, and do exactly what I tell others to do; connect.

As a connected educator, I am so quick to tell others to reach out, ask questions, and connect, yet how often do I do it myself?  How often do I sit down with someone I don’t know?  How often do I attempt a conversation with a stranger?  How often do I open myself up to the chance of learning something new and not just seeking out those people that I know already?  We get so stuck in our circles of educator friends, people that were strangers once, that we forget to expand those same circles.  And we become stagnant, and we perceive our own importance as something larger than it is because everybody already knows who we are and what we stand for.

While the introvert part of me is yelling rather loudly to spend the next few days as quietly as possible, the tiny adventurous part of me is actually winning.  And I am letting it.  So these next few days I am going to connect.  I am going to seek out.  I am going to introduce myself.  I am not going to hide behind a book or a computer, but instead greet every new adventure with a smile, reach out to others who may be sitting alone just like me.  Go to sessions where I don’t know the presenter, where I am not an expert already on the topic,  but just want to learn.  Yes, I may make a fool out of myself, I may reach out to people who don’t want to be met, and yes, I may find myself alone at times.  But I will be having a great time wrapped up in my incredible nervousness.  I will be connecting, going back to how it used to be before people started to read this blog or started to ask for advice, establishing new ways for me to become a better teacher, and maybe even have some great conversations along the way.  Wish me luck, I am pretty sure I am going to need that or at least some courage.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” will be published by Routledge in the fall.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

7 thoughts on “Are We Really Connecting Anymore?

  1. never would’ve guessed that there is an introverted part of you….or that you would struggle to make conversation with a stranger. I would love to be at a conference where you were presenting…..

  2. Thinking how we embrace teachable moments in our classrooms, looking at this as a “Learning Moment” Don”t forget to share. And have a great experience! Love reading your posts and reflections.

  3. Wow, I relate. Sometimes it is a choice to reach out and connect when we’re surrounded by people we don’t know yet. Hope you come home with a whole heart full of new connections.

  4. I don’t know where you are presenting, but North Carolina welcomes you! I wish I could be where ever you are to attend your presentation, but alas, we have missed so much school due to weather, I dare not ask to attend a workshop and miss a day of teaching my students. Enjoy your time, both out of your comfort level and within your introverted self. Thank you for your continued blogs which make me think and reevaluated some hidden part of myself.

  5. I’m in your session. I’m a blogger, an educator, and an introvert just like you. Know that without introverts, there would be very little deep and complex thinking going on! Your session is going to help me figure out how to inspire teachers to inspire students to blog. I am the only blogger (that I know of) in my district, and honestly sometimes I feel like Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happiness. Maybe one day I’ll get someone to buy blogging.

  6. Early Friday morning I saw you walk past me into the vendor hall where I sat outside & ate breakfast. Your dress and heels caught my eye & I felt sorry for you having to walk the convention center in those shoes all day.

    I myself chose to wear an old pair of jeans & worn sweater – comfort on a cold Friday. Yet as we humans many times do, after seeing your attire, I compared myself & categorized my appearance as “unprofessional”.

    I tried to dismiss that thought & remind myself that appearances are not everything.

    No one here notices my clothes, I am one of thousands – just another teacher. I rationalized my thinking further by adding, “besides, really no one really sees me – too many gadgets in their hands, too many screens in their faces” – a slight undercurrent of frustration that stays with me, personally & professionally, despite all the benefits of 21st Century inventions. It is one I strive to teach students to be aware of as well.

    I was surprised to see you as the presenter when I walked in to Room 402 and wondered what this beautifully dressed lady from Denmark (?!) ( a place I spent a month working in a bakery with my mother when I was 16) would be sharing about blogging.

    As as you spoke and shared, I took notes & smiled.

    I walked away inspired and motivated.

    I’d just been “schooled” by an lovely lady whose main goal is not how to WOW students with gadgetry or to create outstanding lesson plans that align with Common Core.

    This lady, wants her students to know that they have a voice – that they matter and they can change things that might be not quite right.

    Blogging is just ONE of the ways she tries to achieve that.

    Thank you for leaving your family & flying solo & facing your fears.

    Thank you for re-igniting a desire to have my students blog & for reminding me that it really has nothing to do with technology, but it has everything to do with them.

    • Sally, thank you so much for your comment. I always dress up when I present because I feel like it shows respect to the conference organizers and the audience that shows up to be a part of the learning. Right after my presentation, I headed back and changed into jeans and boots, because you are right; that was a gigantic conference with many miles to walk. I am sorry if in any ways the comparison you made caused you stress or sadness, that is never my intent. Thank you so much for giving me and my words a chance, I hope you get them blogging again and I hope you let me know how it goes.

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