Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Kindred Spirits #sol15



Anne Shirley is a kindred spirit.  I've read the entire Anne of Green Gables series and also loved the movie version featuring Megan Follows as Anne.  She was a character I respected, admired, laughed with, and was someone who I would have loved to call my friend.  She often used the phrase "kindred spirits" in her books and I've felt that way about special people in my life, too.  

Anne Shirley said, "Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think.  It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world."  Becoming a connected educator has allowed me to see the truth in this quote and my world has become bigger, richer, more alive by the people I interact with online. 

For a long time, I felt under the stormy cloud of the political storm surrounding education.  Article after article talked about low teacher morale, ridiculous and unfair ways to assess, misery in the education field.  When I dreamed of being a teacher as a child, this nightmare was not what I envisioned.  

Politically, things are not better.  The new evaluation plan Cuomo set in motion is a horror show, but for me, the storm clouds have lifted.  Light is shining in, coming from many directions as the kindred spirits I meet share their passion for teaching, learning, reading, writing and helping kids find their way.  

There's Kristen, who is simply a powerhouse of motivation, ideas, and love of literacy.  She's taught me Voxer and I look forward to daily chats with her, knowing I will always know more after talking to her than I did before.  There's Aliza, who takes time out of her jam-packed busy schedule to email me and send me pictures of the reading notebook she has developed.  What's in it for her to do this? Nothing.  But she does it anyway, answering my questions, sending me pictures, helping me refine my ideas. There's Sylwia, who sent me ideas on how she is incorporating math centers in her 3rd grade classroom after I inquired about how that works.  There's Jane, who always sends me supportive tweets about what I'm sharing about my teaching life.  These kind comments help me see that my voice is important.  There's Greg, whose blog, book and life are a testament to the incredible gift he is to teaching and the world. There's JoEllen, who radiates joy and love for learning and has taken the time to connect with me.  Her #booklove and enthusiasm have inspired me to bring more joy back into my classroom.  There's Mark, who has generously put my name into the "Twitterverse" and helped me connect with more educators. His pictures and quotes are always day brighteners and reinforce the notion that someone believing in you is powerful motivation to become worthy of that belief.  

There's more, of course.  Teachers like Katherine Sokolowski (no relation!) who takes the time to make a Youtube tutorial for me when I confessed I couldn't figure out how to create a Padlet.  Katherine's blogs always touch my heart and like Anne Shirley, Katherine's character shines through each word she writes.  There's the Two Writing Teachers team who bring together this community of teachers who believe in writing and telling our stories.  Day after day, new posts are published and each one gives me practical and inspiring ways to approach writing in my classroom.  Their knowledge and the knowledge of the community members who comment on posts is astounding and is helping me grow as a teacher. There's the Nerdy Book Club and the nerdy members who love books and make it a mission to help our students fall in love with reading, too.  

There's the real-life friends I know that I know better now because of being connected online.  Darshna, Mark, Vicki, and Barbara are LIWP friends who are kindred spirits and friends. We only get to meet up a few times a year, but through the magic of online connections, I read Barbara's slices weekly and learn more about her adventures. I read Mark's poems each day in April and found myself stunned by his talent and voice.  I see the incredible things Vicki is doing for her students and her passion for teaching.  I  read the insightful articles that Darshna carefully posts, knowing whatever she puts out there will be worth my time. 

The other day, Dr. Bill Brennan, Director of Library Media Services and Technology in Farmingdale, visited our school.  Dr. Brennan is the person who inspired me to try Twitter.  Two years ago at Superintendent's Conference Day, he spoke to our district about the new ways of learning.  His presentation was awe-inspiring. He talked about how Twitter was helping him to connect with experts and learn in real time and I began to think that Twitter was more than just a place for celebrity gossip. When Dr. Brennan stopped by on Friday, I had the opportunity to thank him for helping me try Twitter.  I told him that teaching without being connected felt a lot like being in a dark house with the doors and windows bolted but now, I feel like everything is bright and open, with light shining in and I can see again.  

The people I know and work with face to face are amazing, helpful, knowledgeable, kind and teach me things everyday.  The people I connect with online are amazing, helpful, knowledgeable, kind and teach me things everyday too.  My world is bigger, brighter, happier and kindred spirits- well, it's splendid to know there are so many of them in my world.