When I first got into education, I thought of networking as something that only people in big businesses did. It was an ugly word, with sleazy, self-serving connotations. Fast forward a few years, and I realized that my favorite thing about going to conferences was getting to hang out with like-minded, passionate, inspiring educators. I joined Twitter and met other teachers and librarians from all over the world. And I began to see that networking is not a dirty word – it’s about making connections, helping and inspiring one another, and building up a network of others who you can rely on for ideas, help, and encouraging words.
I had a very busy summer this year, and looking back on it, I’ve realized that it was all about connecting with other educators and finding a shared passion.
Obviously, the highlight of my summer was ISTE 2014. I got to meet and hang out with so many of my Twitter friends. I met new people who I’ve since talked with a lot on Twitter. It was so inspiring and encouraging to hang out with all of these visionary educators and hear about the amazing things going on at their schools.
I spent a lot of time this summer visiting local Makerspaces, learning from those who work there and getting great ideas. It gave me a chance to share about what we’re doing at my school and to make connections with other Makers. We already had Tampa Hackerspace visit our school last year and I see opportunities for working together with The Hive and Mosi’s IdeaZone as well.
I got a lot of chances to meet up with other media specialists in my district too. I met up with friends for breakfast and coffee at our HASLMS (Hillsborough Association of School Library Media Specialists) Book Club. I visited a first-year high school media specialist and got to hear about how she’s redesigning her school’s media center. I met up with another media specialist to help her get started with Twitter and Instagram. I got to visit my alma mater Benito Middle School and hang out with Sundi, where we chatted about Makerspaces (their school is going to have an awesome new makerspace this year – she’s already ordered a Makerbot Mini, organized a Maker club and set up monthly collaboration projects with the Technology teacher).
And then of course, there’s all the wonderful connections I’ve made on Twitter. There’s so many people on there who I’ve never met in real life, yet continue to inspire me everyday. I’ve found such a supportive, encouraging community there. When I posted my image of the plans for our Maker Corner, I received reaffirmation that we’re moving in the right direction at my school (and I may have inspired a few people to create LEGO walls in their schools too).
What connections did you make over the summer? How have other educators influenced and inspired you?