This morning I decided to do some winter/post-Christmas cleaning and I started with my jeans. My jeans are basically broken into two categories - the ones that fit and the ones that don't fit anymore. Well, I decided the easiest way to go about cleaning out this drawer was trying them all on because that would simplify things - the ones that don't fit could be tossed. Well, much to my surprise more of them fit than I expected (I guess the stress of trying to balance family life while writing a dissertation and working full-time could impact more than my sleep) so I had to weed them out using different parameters - too short, too long, jeans my dad would wear, etc. Finally, I got to the bottom of the drawer and I rediscovered my most favorite pair of jeans - they are the perfect color, length and they used to fit. But, they were also frayed, worn out and there were holes in random places. I decided to try them on and they actually still fit but was that reason enough to keep them? Things that make you go hmmmmm....
2013 was the year where I learned that pushing myself out of my comfort zone, becoming physically uncomfortable at times and stretching my thinking have led me to learning experiences and opportunities that I never would have imagined a year ago. A year ago I would have naively said it was all because of Twitter. Well, here I am a year later and I can honestly say Twitter is an awesome platform that facilitates learning but for me, it is about the connections. The human connections. The human connections with educators from around the world. The relationships that I have established with the many amazing and dedicated educators who willingly share their knowledge, ideas, perspectives and passion. I have grown as a father, educator and person because of the connections I have established and nurtured on Twitter.
What have I learned you ask?
I have learned about different resources that can enhance learning in our classrooms.
I have learned about how to best integrate iPads into the classroom when it isn't a 1:1 situation.
I have learned about how to develop a level of transparency with the community so we can flatten the walls of our school and let the community see exactly what is happening in our school and why it is happening (thank you Eric).
I have learned about the differences between being a Lead Learner and an administrator (thank you Joe).
I have learned about the power of mentoring through the #SAVMP experience (I have learned so much from my mentees and from George Couros & Amber Teamann).
I have learned about some amazing apps - Touchcast, Voxer and Storify just to name a few - that have impacted my ability to lead efficiently (thank you to my #WIAmigos)!
I was introduced to the world of podcasts and have even had an opportunity to participate in a few of them - LOVE these resources.
I have learned about the importance of branding our schools and telling our story, which has led to an exciting new project - the BrandED podcast on Bam Radio with my brother from another mother Dr. Joe Sanfelippo.
I have learned how to co-moderate a chat (thank you to my fellow #NYedchat crew - Bill, Vicki, Carol, Blanca & Starr).
I have learned about the power of blogging and using it as a platform to push myself and potentially others (thank you Peter DeWitt).
I have learned so much from all the amazing educators in my cohort at Penn - a bunch of whom are on Twitter!
The list could go on and on because I have learned so much this year through these amazing human connections! I have grown so much thanks to these human connections. I have been pushed beyond where I thought I could be pushed because of these connections. In fact, I am so far out of my comfort zone on most days that it is a little scary but I am ok with it because I know I am a better me today than I was a year ago as a result of these connections! In the end, I have learned this year that it isn't so much about Twitter (I have even stopped preaching about it somewhat) but instead, it is about the connections.
So, what happened to those old jeans you ask? I decided to throw them out. I didn't need them anymore. Instead, I was going to push myself out of my comfort zone and go out and buy a new pair of jeans - I am a little nervous but super excited!