Staying Connected

Some things are great in isolation.  You have Mad Max (can't wait for the remake), Clint Eastwood's Preacher in Pale Rider and Chinese Betta fighting fish.  But when you think about those movie characters, they just don't seem fulfilled, do they?  People are not meant to be in isolation. That is why it is such a harsh punishment in the prison system.

Professionally, connecting with those in your field that are strong, creative, insightful or supportive means that you can grow and develop your skill set through dialog with those people.  Educational Professional Development often lacks that important piece.  We go to trainings, wake up at the end to sign the paper, we get our credits and then walk off back to the isolation of the classroom.

I have been incredibly lucky to be a part of a group of educators that buck that trend. I was recently told that the Discovery Educator Network (DEN) was probably mis-named. It should be the Discovery Educator Community.  My connections to this community has built a solid network of like-minded professionals that encourage me, support me, inspire me and let me do the same for them when I can.

This is a very open community. In fact, any teacher with their own Discovery Education account is already a DEN member. Becoming a DEN Star is easy and opens the door to additional opportunities like the DEN Summer Institute I just got back from.  Anybody within a stone's throw of me has been hearing about my experiences last week.  It was an amazing time because of the people that came together and further developed this community.

England, Canada and Texas worked together with a
Makey Makey kit during the DENmazing Race. 
I learned so much.  I saw new tips for green screening, enjoyed a diverse Maker's Fair that could be duplicated at schools, got my hands into 3D printing, discussed an endless number of websites that support education in the classroom, heard fantastic speakers and then there was the time together that built personal connections.  This community of adults left the institute tearfully, like kids leaving summer camp after meeting their new best friends.

Funny thing is, Discovery Education has this habit of reflecting our praise back to us, saying, "Y'all organized ____" or "You put these things together." I tried several times to thank Princess Porter (Palmer) and her glowing and gracious smile returned a praise about the group.   So, because she can't stop me this time, "Porter, you are loved by so many. Thank you for the opportunities you designed to enhance our community and lay foundations for a strong dynamic network of freakingly awesome educators. You have my deep gratitude and respect."

So, I am back home and back at work. My ADD is in full chaos mode with every other thought taking me back to DENSI2014 and the awesome people there.  I have new ways to reach my teachers and some new ways to use the wealth of Discovery Education resources like the Board Builders and truck load of SOS strategies.  It makes me think of the circus juggler who is juggling 20 balls at the same time, but in my circus, there is always someone to help juggle the balls with me.

Thanks for the memories.  But even more so, thanks for the future we will share together.
#DENSI2014 #MissingDENSI2014
3 Responses
  1. Paula Naugle Says:

    Howard, DENSI, is definitely not about isolation. While I was not physically in attendance this year, I also was not isolated from so much of what was happening there in Nashville. I am so grateful for every FB post, Instagram picture, and tweet sent out by those who were there. I definitely was living and learning vicariously through all of you. I was not doing this in isolation either, as I was participating as a member of the #NotatDENSI2014 group of DEN Stars.

    Thank you for this wonderful post and let's keep juggling the balls together.

  2. pwp Says:

    thanks for the kind words. Love you tons, Howard.

  3. M Coleman Says:

    As another #NotAtDENSI2014 participant, I definitely felt the DEN love and strong connections as well. There is something extremely special about this community even if you are a bit more on the periphery. My thanks to all who made #DENSI2014 an opportunity for me to re-connect and benefit from the sharing, including your great videos, Howard! :) The strength of the DEN relationships and depth of learning in such institutes are experiences I wish for every teacher, especially for new teachers who can 'see the light' and 'carry the torch' from the onset! Thanks for being you, Howard. :)

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