For about 2 months now I’ve been ‘out of the loop’. First I was on vacation, then I returned to a newly aggressive filtering of the internet in China. Unrest and uprisings in the Middle East have propagated fear of social networks and a People’s uprising here. I won’t go into detail about my connection woes beyond saying that it’s far easier to disconnect and disengage than it is to participate on any of the websites usually blocked here. Normally, I thoroughly enjoy my conversations on Twitter and seem to have countless browser tabs open at any given moment, as I click on links to explore later. However, recently I’ve had to curtail that. It’s not worth the time or the effort.
It has been hard. It has been frustrating. I hate being disconnected!
But I’ve noticed something that has made me realize the true value of being a connected principal and a connected learner. I’ve been very disconnected compared to what I would prefer, but I’m still connected. Influences trickle through and linger… in a good way.
For example: Chris Werj wrote a while back about creating FedEx Prep: Time for Innovation and then Lyn Hilt expanded on the idea with Inspiration Delivers. Just recently I provided coverage for the first FedEx Prep to happen at my school and our recent Professional Development day was completely teacher driven. I think the common goal they chose for the day was important to our school and the teachers did a great job with every one of them presenting/sharing resources and working together to help each other. I truly value shared leadership; I wrote my master’s thesis about empowering student leaders. But to be honest, this was the first Pro-D session in my year-and-a-half as a principal where I truly empowered my teachers to lead the way… and it was inspired by Connected Principals.
Another example of positive, connected influence happened when I reached out and asked for help. I had a sensitive issue to deal with and I emailed a few friends back ‘home’ in Canada and also a few Connected Principals I admire and feel ‘connected to’. The advice was nothing less than brilliant! It soothed my frustration and helped me handle the situation with wisdom I lack on my own. Hindsight being 20/20, I now fully realize how I exasperated the situation, and I was helped with guiding the issue into resolution and cooperation rather than conflict or frustration. Since then Cale Birk, another Connected Principal wrote ‘Dropping Swords‘ and I contributed this in the comments:
I recently dealt with an issue that hit my ego more than I’d like to admit, and after consulting with some very wise people, I ‘dropped my sword’ and remembered that we really were on the same side… (Another reason the sword is the wrong approach, you wound not your enemies but your future allies.)
Those words may have come from me but the wisdom came from my peers, back home and here on Connected Principals.
Tonight I got to listen to George Couros and Patrick Larkin talk about Connected Principals in a Classroom 2.0 Elluminate Session. Despite 10 minutes of trying to get the session loaded, I experienced a rare online experience with minimal delays and almost seamless audio. It was great to be connected! George was humble about getting this group going, giving credit to the contributors for making this blog what it is. What he doesn’t realize is that it is because he created this space that so many of us have benefited. This Connected Principals blog is a great learning space that has provided me with insights and lessons from people I admire and respect. I have found colleagues, mentors, and friends here. Thank you to all of the Connected Principals.
To any administrators that are just starting to get connected online, you have a network of future friends here to help you out. Subscribe to this blog via email. Comment and ask questions. Read some interesting blog posts. Follow some interesting bloggers. Start learning and sharing on twitter. Ask for help. I may be somewhat dis-connected for a while yet, but I’ll extend a helping hand, and I’m sure many of the other Connected Principals will too!