Be a Lightbulb – Starting a New Year

lightbulb_framedThis year’s start was a bit later than anticipated.  None the less, every ‘start up’  is a great time filled with anticipation. Anticipation of meeting new people, new colleagues, new and returning students, new buildings or rooms and yes admittedly some anxieties. If you’re anything like me, I always buy a new pen to celebrate the new start-up. It takes a lot of planning and organization behind the scenes to start a new year – most of it hidden from students or parents view. Boxes and boxes overflowing with things to generate excitement,  conversation and learning. Colourful borders, posters and dangly things for the ceiling, squishy pillows or chairs find their places in the room. Making decisions on what and how to teach so that excitement generates possibilities for every student and staff.

Beyond all the physical elements of a start-up is the most important yet unspoken belief underlying all of learning – relationships and connectedness. These are the things that create community, that allow individuals to feel belonging, that binds together compassion, empathy, curiosity and empowerment. This is what keeps the anxieties of facing the unknown from turning into frozen moments. To this end I’ll spend the month connecting and reconnecting, listening and listening deeply to hear the real stories that are offered in the smallest of moments.

What are you doing to develop relationships and connectedness in your space?

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8 thoughts on “Be a Lightbulb – Starting a New Year

    1. Thanks Bev.
      Absolutely. Imagine walking into any situation without seeing a caring face that encourages you to “just be”. And it is so good, in fact, fabulous to be back.

  1. I agree with you, Janet. For us to be effective as educators we need to focus on building relationships; making the connections that will lead to conversation; being vulnerable and humble showing ourselves as learners, too! Knowing that relationships distinguish teaching from just talking. You might enjoy this beautiful TEDTalk by the late Dr. Rita Pierson http://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion?language=en And I am enjoying Michael Fullan’s recent work A Rich Seam http://www.michaelfullan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/3897.Rich_Seam_web.pdf (chapter 2 on learning partnerships pg. 14):
    “Decades of research on teacher-student relations bears out what teacher Pauline Roberts from Michigan put quite succinctly: “If kids know you care about them as human beings, it makes all the difference.” Students (and with reason) take the stance with teachers (and other students) that if you are not willing to learn from me, I am not willing to learn from you. In the new
    pedagogies human relationships take a new and more central place in the learning experience. They are not confined to two minutes before or after class. In the new pedagogies, the entire learning experience is deeply embedded in these relationships, which exists between and among students and teachers, between student peers, between students and their families,
    and with social networks that connect those of similar learning interests and aspirations. The new pedagogies muscularly leverage all of these relationships as part of the learning enterprise, inherently making the learning more of a conversation and a mutual endeavour.”

    1. Thank so much. I love the thoughts of Rita Pierson – an amazing individual that has gifted us with words from the heart. I often return to her video for inspiration and a sense of connectedness.
      Sometimes I feel that the reason that people don’t connect is that it places a person in a state of vulnerability. This can be quite unnerving.
      I can’t get away from the fact that everything is dependent on the relationships we build.

  2. Hi Jan,

    I also agree with everything you say in this blogpost! Moreso now, than ever before, we need to focus on these relationships and continue to build trust. Without trust and positive relationships what do you really have? Not much. I think it is really important to listen. Listen to everyone’s stories, regardless of how insigificant they may seem. It is through those stories that we will continue to build strong, trusting relationships. It’s difficult this year because many people feel the pressure to do things quicker. They feel “behind”. It is just our natural way of dealing with things, I suppose.

    I am trying to listen to these stories. I am also encouraging others to slow down and focus on the most important thing – relationships.

    Tia

  3. Yes yes Tia. Listening without an agenda. Listen to understand not to answer a question. Stories are everything – we are our stories.
    I agree – since we’ve started a bit later we feel the need to catch up. At the cost of the relationship. I’m trying to model taking the time to really be in the present and capture each moment.
    Thank you for your thoughts as they are words that resonate.

  4. Hi Janet,
    Thank you for the blog entry which resonates especially around gathering the stories that emerge as the year begins. An interesting theme that so many people have.
    To your question – the most important thing we can devote to healthy relationships is the time they need to be nurtured. Time….make time…

    Thanks again, I enjoyed reading your blog.

    Jordan

    1. Hi Jordan,
      Thank you for your thoughts. I so agree. In this age of speed, speed, and more speed, we get so wrapped up in completing the “list”. And yet the most important thing stares in front of us. I Love your comment on “TIME”. It is about time, what we focus on is what is important to us. I’m always going to choose time to be in the present with the people right in front of me. Everything else revolves and grows from there.

      Janet

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