Yes, yes, this has been written about by people much more important than I, but this last week made me realize just how powerful these all are.

1) Family: As a group, we’ve never been a close family. My dad was a very hard-working teacher, my mom stayed home with us, and my brother and I just were.  They were never huggers, never ones to show a ton of emotion, good, bad, or otherwise, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s where I get my quiet personality. Contrast that with my wife’s family who wear their emotions on their sleeves, who are very outgoing and boisterous, and you have a combination that used to raise my heart rate!  All that being said, I enjoy the holiday season because I do get to see them all. I’ve learned to appreciate my wife’s family for what they are: loving, caring, sometimes not all way appropriate people who are working hard in the world.  My own family, my parents have relaxed some, enjoying watching their sons as parents, watching their grandkids grow up.  That connection, while sometimes strained, is one that is always welcomed.

2) Last Friday’s PD w/Kevin Honeycutt: I wrote about that awesome day of learning here, so I won’t spend much time other than to say, for our staff, it was a voluntary day.  Yes, we got paid to come in, but it wasn’t a requirement.  To see many of our staff there for that, regardless of the reason, was a good thing for me.  Even if the only motivation was the money, they still got to see a world-class speaker, talk with educators from the area about their classes, and make connections.

3) #snowdaychat: As usual, the first week of school after Christmas break turns ugly weatherwise.  This year has been no different. December = no snow, temps in the 30’s generally a wonderful month to be alive.  First week of January = blizzard warning, no schoo, late starts, lows in the negative teens, a cold, white, barren wasteland (dramatic much)!  Wednesday, a group of us huddled around our laptops and took part in the first #snowdaychat, with the topic being the 21st Century Snow Day!  We talked about what “days of learning” might look like as we start that discussion of counting snow days on our school calendar, the positives of these connections for students, and the possible pitfalls.  No, we didn’t solve the world’s problems, but it was nice to be able spend 30 minutes of my day talking shop with other like-minded educators.  Those connections, the ones that are becoming more and more local will be the most important going forward, especially as the Iowa Legislature comes into session.  We need to keep public education, a strong vibrant public education system in the forefront and not get pulled down by all the other stuff!

4) #moedchat Voxer: I’ll admit, I’m painfully shy.  New things, new situations find me at the back of the room, along the wall, where ever it is to safely observe.  So, when Voxer started popping up, I was safe with it, Voxing my wife, my kids, and slowly a few others in the edu field. That whole voice aspect is very daunting to me as it’s another layer stripped away.  Not that it’s a bad thing, just something new.  Last night, as the #moedchat was rocking along, a MoEdChat Voxer group was created and I put my name on it.  Suddenly, all these messages start popping in and I’m going “oh crap”.  Well, all I can do now, jump in with both feet.  It’s a different feel, that’s for sure, listening to the emotion in the voice of people, but this is a technology I want to do more with this year, so jumping into this group was a GREAT thing for me.  Plus, as I voxered, I lived in Missouri for three years, so many of the places, the schools, the towns are all familiar to me.  My regret, that I didn’t meet all these people while I was actually LIVING there! 🙂  My hope now, that #IAEdchat begins a voxer group, or that I find it so I can join in with the cool kids! 🙂

5) This blog: For a while, I thought about shutting this blog down.  I’d run short on ideas, and starting moving back into that “who really wants to read about what I’m saying anyway” mind-set.  No more.  No, this blog will never win any awards and is never going to reach too wide of an audience.  But it’s mine.  It’s personal.  And it’s a place where I can tell my story, in whatever manner it needs to be told. The connections made through this blog aren’t many, but I can refer people back to here and say “see, if this poor schmuck can do it, you certainly can too!”  It’s a teaching tool for my students to see I’m practicing what I’m preaching and a tool for other educators to see that you don’t always have to write something ground breaking.  Sometimes being you is just fine.

So, my Friday Happy Thought: connections.  What are you doing to create them?  How are you reaching your students? Your families?  How are you telling the story that needs to be told?  Get connected, get out there, and do great things! 🙂