I guess for most of us a family reunion implies getting together with cousins, uncles, aunts, having a BBQ, horseshoes and some beers. Well that sounds good to me, but this past weekend I attended a family reunion with no relatives, no BBQ, or lawn games. ( OK a couple of beers) I was at the EDUCON 2.8 conference in Philadelphia. The conference itself and the content of the discussions and presentations were in of itself a great experience. The multiple sessions I attended on Cultivating Student Voice, Learning how to best Empower Students, How to create a more modern Classroom & Discussion of Race in the classroom (and more) in of themselves were well worth the price of admission. I will be discussing them more in depth in another post. However,one of the best takeaways for me was the “reunion” of people who I have never really met face to face, or only briefly before. I understand they may sound a tad contradictory, so let me explain.
Before I left for the conference I was telling my family I was excited to meet up with my friends from places like Denver, Toronto, D.C. etc. They were confused because they knew I had never really meet most of these people before. “How can they be your friends? You don’t know them, not like “real friends” . They can be good professional acquaintances, but friends” ?? But to me they have become as part of my friendships as my best buddies down the street. Over the past few years as I have become a more connected educator, not only has my circle of professional peers grown, but also my circle of friends. Real friendships that go beyond the casual mutual back slapping they can occasionally happen in a chat (and to Quote the great American Philosopher Jerry Seinfeld)”Not that there’s anything wrong with that !”
I mean relationships that go deeper. We have a commonality of our place in education sure. We offer mutual support, assistance, and resources. But, we also know when we are happy, when we are sad, upset, confused. And just as important, as concerned friends, they know what we need to straighten our ship.
This “family” shares joys, tears, and frustrations together, and rally around each other as needed. On occasions, if we are lucky, either through travel or though the luck of proximity we get to meet face to face.This surely helps cement the friendship, but it’s not a necessity. Distance, either close or far away is not a measure of friendship, just as birth doesn’t truly dictate who your family is. I have truly dear close friends who I haven’t seen in decades. This doesn’t mean we are still not close. The same can be said about our PLN families. I did not what to drop names in fear of either becoming a “Twitter Groupie” or leaving some dear people out, but, an example of the melding of the two worlds is my good friend and building peer Dan Whalen (@whalen) Dan & I had worked in the same school building for over 4 years. We knew each other in passing, but that was about it. Then when he helped organize our school hashtag( #chsonegoodthing) and got me into the twitterverse ,I not only landed into a new world that has enabled me to grow my teaching beyond my expectations, but grew a true strong friendship. When my wandering through Twitter, landed at #bfc530 and “met” Jessica Raleigh(@ ) She encouraged and cajoled me and along with Dan pushed me beyond anything I thought I could do. So a true friendship developed. When we got to meet last summer at ISTE it again only strengthened the bond. This week she flew out here for the conference and she, Dan & I spent 4 days together and it truly felt like a family reunion.Add in all the wonderful people from Educon that I met face to face and it was truly family outing. Not only the ones I was planning on seeing, but meeting new names ,faces, and relationships that is expanding my “family”
Anyone for a game of horseshoes??