What do you do when you are trying to do what’s best for kids? We CONNECT. We connect with kids. We connect with parents and families. We connect as teachers. We connect as leaders. We find any way possible to connect, so we can do what is best for our kids. Education was once considered a lonely profession. Consider the one room schoolhouse, where one teacher served an entire rural community and everyone knew she was not to be seen after dark! Through the years a culture of connection and collaboration has slowly unfolded. Today, with social media at our fingertips, we have endless opportunities to establish connections with anyone and everyone. We have the ability to invite the community in via pictures and videos. We have networks with amazing educators to help us grow stronger in our profession. There simply is no reason why we shouldn’t be connected educators…we have every reason to be connecting for kids.
One of my favorite authors, John Maxwell, wrote a book entitled, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently. I read this book many years ago when I first entered the world of administration, and it opened my eyes to the importance of how we communicate, and the real purpose of it. My superintendent assigned the book for our team to read, and it was a game changer for me. If our communication isn’t reaching others, we are defeating our purpose. Authentic connections will not happen without authentic and purposeful communication. When we connect with others, we are validated, challenged, inspired, and our emotions are brought to the surface. This is what helps people become better versions of themselves. When we as educators connect, we become better educators. Our kids deserve nothing less than our best. Flying solo as an educator is no longer an option. When we struggle, we connect for support. When we succeed, we share to support others. When our beliefs are challenged, we share to ignite passion. There is power in connection, and connecting for kids is something we must ALL do. After all, it is about them, isn’t it?
So…remember the WHY behind connecting for kids!
- To seek support and advice
- To be validated for innovative thinking
- To gather resources (blogs, images, podcasts, etc.)
- To share our successes and thoughts
- To strengthen our core beliefs
- To inspire and be inspired
- To celebrate the AWESOME we witness each school day
This list could continue, because the WHY behind connecting for kids is immeasurable. We owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to our kids…they are ALL OURS.
If you want to make the best connections, you must be visible. Visibility should be at the top of our “To Do List.” As lead learners, our lists are full of emails, phone calls, meetings, and paperwork, but we must have visibility (in permanent marker) at the top of the list. We should intentionally (put it on the calendar) be in classrooms, at recess, in the hallways, and out front during morning/afternoon dismissal to see first hand what is happening in our school. When you are visible to all, relationships begin to bloom because you learn to know the people with whom you work with…your Kids, your Teachers, your Staff, your Families, and your Community. What a positive feeling it is for parents to see you in the mornings greeting the kids with high-fives and hugs. What a rewarding feeling to enter a classroom of fully engaged kids and leave a handwritten note in appreciation to the teacher. Through each of our actions as leaders, we begin to make connections through our interactions with kids, teachers, and families.
You may ask…How do you do this?
- Morning Greetings/Afternoon “See You Tomorrow”
- Mobile Office to be in the classrooms
- Eat Lunch with the Kids
- Spread the news of what’s happening at your school
- Give Kids a Voice on what happens at their school
- Share with Kids are Awesome they are can day!
- Go Beyond the School Walls
When do we connect with/for kids. When do you not? We should be making connections and building relationships with and for kids constantly throughout each and every day. Kid connections should be the unwavering compass needle pointing us to and keeping us aligned with our why. So often, lead learners get inundated with infraction forms, system issues and trivial problems that weigh us down and make us feel as though we are trapped in our offices. Don’t let your office become a trap…get out and connect with and for kids. It must be a conscious, culture changing mindset to become a lead learner who values and insists on building relationships with students. The BIG question often becomes… when do we do this?
- Academic Milestones
- Behavior Milestones
- Character Milestones
- Attendance Milestones
- Positive phone calls home
- Through Collaboration with Adults AND students about concerns
- RTI (academic and behavioral) – Social/emotional concerns through formal/informal conversations during lunch, recess, bus duty, hallways…the list goes on and on.
- Through Communication – Share, Share, Share
- Face to Face with students (find their passion…their why), parents, ALL stakeholders…bring them into the school and put yourself out there.
- Via social media – sharing our story and our why
Are we connecting everyday for our kids? Is our story being heard around the state? These are the questions that got us to thinking we need a movement to connect educators across the state of Arkansas for our kids! And why not connect for our kids? After all, it is about them, isn’t it? Kids deserve us to be the best version of ourselves, so what if we had a place where we could go for continual conversation, resources, great ideas from our schools, and…yes…a Twitter chat? This is the WHY behind #EduAr…to connect FOR kids! We need to learn together, from each other. Learning goes beyond the 6 hour professional development session, beyond the talks in your hallways and in team meetings, and beyond your district. Arkansas kids (and the rest of the nation’s kids) need us to learn from a larger source. We owe that to them. Let’s do this!
Information coming soon on a set time for the #EduAr weekly Twitter chat! Look for slow chat questions, or images with a post for the day. Please begin sharing by using #EduAr in your tweets. Let’s get connected within our state, and reach out to other states as a unified group of educators. Ready?
Lindsey, Bethany, and Karen