Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Connections Over Content, Every Time.


So, a confession. I don't particularly love English. The subject, not the language.

I'm pretty sure I just heard a collective gasp from my students. 
And perhaps my principal.

          Don't get me wrong, I love literature and writing. And most of my students and colleagues know that I'm pretty fond of Shakespeare. And not so fond of poetry. But what I'm passionate about as an educator are the connections, not the content.

Relationships are essential. Punctuation isn't.

Another collective gasp.

          But it is the connections, the relationships, that I form with my colleagues, students, parents and members of the school community that I value most. These relationships inspire and energize me. Not the content. As a teacher leader, it is contributing to the larger vision and goals of my school and of my district that fills me purpose and passion. Not the content. 
          I was reminded of the importance of connections over content in a recent tweet by SD #36 Director of Instruction, Elisa Carlson.

          Her son's "favourite memory about learning" wasn't in any way related to the content. Clearly he had an awesome math teacher. But it wasn't a memory of a spectacular mathematical equation that resonated most. It was a unique experience, a connection that he had with that teacher. 
          I've had similar conversations with my own son. When I ask him about his day at school, more often that not, it's not a lesson or new skill that he shares with me. It's a joke his teacher told. Or something goofy that his principal did to entertain the students on the playground. 
          When my students come back to visit me years after they've graduated, they don't come back to thank me for teaching them how to analyze a poem, or integrate a quote, or write an essay. They come back because of a relationship. A connection. 
          Yes, my heart still fills with joy when a student of mine integrates a literary allusion into a tweet related to a sporting event. And yes, I have enough Shakespeare memorabilia in my classroom to open my own store. 
But I will take the connections over the content, every time.