Monday, July 10, 2017

Who You Surround Yourself With...

Today is my oldest son's birthday. As I was thinking of everything I love about him, one quality that came to mind was his loyalty to his friends. That made me sit and marvel at the friends both of my boys have made. They are interesting kids. Kind. Nerdy about the things that they love. Each group is quirky in their own ways, but kids I like to have around. I know I have preached to my boys since they were small that who you surround yourself with matters. They will influence you, you will influence them. They have chosen wisely.

My parents gave me that advice when I was young. I listened, sometimes, but knew it to be true. When I became a teacher, many moons ago, my mom (also a teacher) repeated it. My cooperating supervisor did as well. I clearly remember her telling me that there would be teachers who would never have anything positive to say about education, administration, fellow teachers, and/or students. But there would also be so many teachers who you could bounce ideas off of, turn to for advice, a shoulder to cry on, and laughter between classes. I'm glad to say that I've found so many of those teachers over the years.

What I could have never counted on, back in the late nineties when I began, was finding so many educators to connect with online. That some of my closest educator friends would teach hours away from me was unheard of, yet that's where I am. Many are gathered today in a small town in Michigan where another NerdCamp is ready to begin. There over 1500 teachers have traveled to talk about kids, reading, story, and making our classrooms a better place. Those are my kind of people. 

So whether it's your third year in education, or your thirtieth, I hope you've found some people to surround yourself with. As I prepare to begin my twenty-second year, I can picture mine. My local colleagues who I text to vent about politics. The ones who come in my room, lay on my couch, and quickly catch up when we have a moment. The one who brings me lunch, even though we're in different buildings now, so we can catch up once a month. The ones who make me laugh so hard in the halls between classes that I have to lean over and catch my breath while tears stream down my face. Just as important are those that live hours away, but send me Voxer messages daily. I catch up with while walking Rosie, and then Leia, each morning. Two miles per day where I hear what they are doing in their classrooms, what they're reading, and they push my thinking. Because of all of these educators, I am a better teacher. 

It is said that teaching is often an isolating profession. We are surrounded each day by people, for certain, but they are a bit younger than we are. I have found that it can be isolating, true, but we can also find so many opportunities for connections within our own buildings and in the wider world if we look for them. What a fabulous experience that can be.