If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with others.
Like most, my work life has taken a meandering path with many unique twists and turns. One of the best amenities of the journey is the people I’ve met along the way.
Early on, I taught math for my local high school. The math teachers on my wing would gather in the hall between classes to discuss what worked and, more often, what didn’t. We learned from each other. The interaction was local (face-to-face) and continues even now, years later.
When I moved to a career technology school, I missed the opportunity to collaborate, converse with other math instructors. I was the only math instructor for the entire campus. So, I fed my need to talk about teaching situations and challenges by staying connected to friends teaching in regular math classrooms and other districts. Little did I know how much I relied on my colleagues or that serving as a lone “expert” was preparation for traversing to my next position with the district.
As the director of a county-wide professional development center focusing on technology and learning, not only was there no one “like” me in the district, there was no one navigating a similar position in our region. This was when I discovered the advantage of connecting with people across the country with similar challenges and interests. Sometimes conversations took place (or started) at face-to-face conferences; many times our meetings were purely online. Whether face-to-face or online, I took advantage of shared experiences, group learning, and a sense of community created through such connections.
Those connections became my “map” when I changed direction and moved to a for-profit education company. As a remote worker, I rarely met my staff, colleagues, people I contracted with… or anyone, face-to-face. The friendships and relationships I shared in previous jobs became increasingly important, both personally and professionally.
In every career move or re-route, I learned from collaboration and interaction with people of similar interests and purpose. I know that my students, staff, and colleagues also benefited from the intersections that took place.
The potholes on my journey were worth it, because of the people I met along the way; people who take a backseat to no one. I want to introduce you to some of my favorites and provide a scenic-turnout for their work.
Will Richardson – I first met Will online through his blog. After numerous online connections, he and I met face-to-face when he presented a workshop for teachers at the professional development center. Absolutely fabulous! I again contacted Will, after moving to the for-profit education company. He had published a great resource book for teachers, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other Powerful Web Tools for Classroom. Because of our previous connections, Will agreed to serve as a subject matter expert to develop an online graduate course with my new company. The course Will helped develop is still being used seven years later. Quality lasts! Since then, Will has published additional books and continues to challenge me through his Read. Write. Connect. Learn. His blog is worthy of a day trip!
Curt Bonk – The original TravelinEdMan! Curt presented a few times for the professional development center and shared numerous resources with me. Books (Empowering Online Learning, The World is Open), connections to people, dinners, stories! Curt and I forged a friendship and remain connected through Facebook, email, etc.
Recently, I was asked to do a presentation on blended and online learning for my district’s professional development day. Instead, I contacted Curt about a virtual presentation. He would conduct the presentations from wherever he is! I would facilitate locally. I am excited to get to share my friend, Curt, with instructors beginning the road to the blended and online learning summit.
Christy Tucker – Christy is a talented Instructional Designer. She worked for me in Online Course Development for the for-profit education company. Christy and I only met face-to-face one time since I hired her in 2006. For more than 3 years, we “met” online multiple times each week, connecting through Skype, Google Docs, Adobe Connect and the phone. Christy and I continue to collaborate and are working on a Blackboard framework for a new blended learning initiative I am spearheading. Her blog, Experiencing E-Learning, shares an amazing understanding of online teaching and learning!
So, what’s my point? It all gets down to relationships. Relationships are built on common interests, through connections and sometimes by taking a path less traveled. Who are the interesting people you’ve met on your career journey?