The Meaningful Connections story first asked to be written during the summer of 2015 in Seattle. The Gates Foundation had selected me to attend Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching with several colleagues from around the state. In the shadow of the tragedies unfolding around our nation, I witnessed passionate teachers of different races, nationalities, and religion make lifelong connections centered around some of the most important work in the world—educating our children. Near the end of our time together, we all received T-shirts with different words expressing portions of the ECET2 creed. Mine, ironically, said, “Connect.”
Still excited by the ideas and inspiration of my week, I didn’t even mind when severe summer thunderstorms delayed my flight home. During a long layover in Charlotte, I visited with many grouchy people in my “Connect” shirt and made them laugh a little. I even shared my Gummy Bears with the pilot, stuck waiting for a plane to fly. Because I rode into a tough situation giddy from terrific professional development, I had a completely different experience than many of the other travelers. The Meaningful Connections story began to glimmer in the back of my mind.
The next school year presented many new opportunities and connections in the form of an enlarged professional learning network via Twitter, inspired by my ECET2 experiences. Amidst all this, more tragedy and division unfolded in our country. My own children and my students all asked questions and commented on what was going on around them. I had few answers as these sweet little people tried to take in all the violence and anger.
But then I remembered my time in both Seattle and Charlotte. Attitude drives experiences. I can’t fix the world for my kids. I can, however, set an intention for how I want things to be. That’s why I’ve staked out this little corner of the Internet for connections. Funny ones. Inspiring ones. Unusual ones. If we can see commonalities between two completely unrelated ideas, maybe this will help us creatively find a peaceful middle between the enormous challenges we face as a nation.
So pull up a chair and pour yourself a glass of sweet tea on the front porch of my middle ground. Relax. Read a little. Share a lot. What stories do you have asking to be written? They’re important, you know. Only through our creativity and a little elbow grease will we rewrite our current story and unite ourselves back on the path toward meaningful connections! Let’s create a movement. Let’s connect.