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.