Monday, September 12, 2011

A serendipitous connection

That I have had an opportunity to co author with Sheryl is remarkable. A serendipitous connection has led to sincere friendship, continued collaboration and always learning—despite our diverse geographical locations in Ohio and Virginia. Where and how did it begin-- Fueled by my life-long passion for learning about learning and my desire to continue making some contribution to public education after retiring, I have benefited from a number of unlikely, unique connections that map my journey to The Connected Educator. Since life circumstances dictated I work from home in 2004 after 35 years in the classroom, I searched the web for educators with similar interests and an enthusiasm for innovation.

One blog linked to another, then another, until I found myself at Anne Davis’ "Edublog Insights" and her post describing a group of teacher cadets with whom she was blogging. I had just completed three years in a similar program for high school students who wanted to be teachers and was delighted to find a like-minded group. I contacted Anne through the comment feature on her blog, seeking her reaction to my mentoring her students through comments on their own posts. Many comments to students, emails and Skype calls with Anne later, I began reading Darren Kuropatwa’s blog, "A Difference" at her insistence.

Darren often pointed to his class blogs as he transparently shared his evolving pedagogy and one day put out a call for e-mentors for his students. I immediately submitted an email asking if he might consider my acting in that role, elated at the possibility of developing additional virtual relationships with young people. Consider the irony here, Darren is a master mathematics teacher in Manitoba who taught pre-calculus and AP calculus, whereas I completed Algebra 2 and Geometry some 40 years back, with Logic meeting my mathematics requirement in college. Thrilled that Darren invited me to participate and being one to always jump right in, I was immediately commenting and posting with many and varied questions pushing high school mathematics students to reflect upon their learning. Often Darren generously posted excerpts from our conversations on his blog as he, his students and I learned from each other that year and the next.

One day in 2006, a post on Darren’s blog really caught my attention--- he, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, and Wesley Fryer would be co founding a cutting edge, totally online, free annual conference for teachers by teachers, "K12 Online". In response to their call for assistance and for presenters, fascinated and excited by what I saw as enormous possibilities for teacher learning, I immediately volunteered any assistance they felt that I could provide. I was speechless sometime later to be invited to serve as continuity editor for the initial conference. Through collaborative work on the conference wiki, and Skype planning calls, Sheryl and I came to know each other. The following year, I was honored and humbled to receive an email from Darren, asking if I would serve as one of the four co-conveners. In September of 2007, Sheryl and I were on Skype for weeks as she uploaded files to a server and sent me links that I used in the blog posts I created on the conference presentation blog. For two weeks in October of that year, Sheryl and I were up together in the early morning on Skype rolling out presentations on the blog and tweeting the presentations.

As different in some ways as night and day, yet playing to each other's strengths, working well together and sharing common passions for learning, for making the world a better place-- the collaborations have continued to this place as has my learning. An opportunity to compile research on online communities with Sheryl led to my deepened understandings of the power of connected learning and communities. A subsequent connection led to my role as community leader in Powerful Learning Practice's virtual learning communities in which I constantly learn from community members. This story is just one illustration of many of the potential in the digital age for networked, connected educators to collaborate with and learn from each other as they aspire to a more accomplished global practice.

Thank you, Sheryl

1 comment:

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach said...

Thank you Lani.