Finding Light in the Dark

    cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Oscar E.
    Warning…This post gets a little mushy…mushier than usual.
    Trying to get back into the swing of things after my dad passed away, I have been thinking about what to write.  Blogging has been something that has been important to my growth as not only an educator, but honestly, as a person.  It has made me more reflective and thoughtful in many aspects of my life, and the time it has taken to just sit down and write has helped me catch my breath when I needed to most.  Writing about dad was one of those times that I needed to use my blog for therapeutic means.  I know it made me really think and appreciate his life, even in his passing.
    Coming back after this type of event makes it hard to focus on “education” related topics but it really helped me to continue to think about learning.  When I think of the word “learning”, I don’t think of simply the consumption and creation of knowledge, but I also think of the development of ourselves as people.
    I started to reflect on the last week, which had many downs, but some very bright ups.  I really learned a lot about people and how they react to tragedy, seeing both the good and bad.  What I was most proud of in the last week was the strength of my family to come together and make sure everything was dealt with, while also taking care of one another. With my dad looking down on us right now, I know that he would be proud of how he strengthened our love and commitment to one another as a family.  I try to focus on that good, while I push out some of the bad.
    So as I continued to think about what I could possibly write today, one of the ideas that kept coming to me over and over again, was how my life is a lot better because of social media.  Many people still do not see the value of this space, but looking back at the last week, I know that the people I have connected with through Twitter have helped to not only make me become a better educator, but more importantly a better person.  I saw “strangers” connect and care for me from both near and far through social networks, many of them that I have never met in real life, or maybe once or twice.  People from across the world that would check in on me and continuously ask, “what do you need me to do?”  Thinking that this was a crazy question from people so far away, it was nice to know that people were willing to help however they could, wherever they were.
    Years ago as a new and (what I thought at the time) young administrator, I felt extremely isolated in my position.  Many people that were in a similar position had different interests and families while I was still single, on my own, and away from family.  It was hard to connect with my peers in a personal sense although I always loved connecting with them on a professional one.
    Then Twitter.
    I honestly felt quite lonely at the time and felt that all I did was work and go home.  Just a continuous cycle.  I started learning with a lot of people that were a lot smarter than me, but I started to find my “tribe” and connected with many people and built friendships with many that at a time when friendships were lacking in my life.
    Was that what I set out to do? Absolutely not.
    In fact, if you would have told me I would have made friends with strangers through Twitter, I would have thought you were crazy.  But now, some of my best friends in the world are literally from around the world.  Many people use Twitter and don’t necessarily “get it”, but I think that it is easy to not see the value if you are not in the mindset to put yourself out there and connect with people.  If I was just “reading” other people’s stuff, I don’t think I would keep coming back.  The connection to the “tribe” has really been the difference in my personal and professional life.
    This is not a “you should join Twitter” post.  I don’t want people to think that at all.  What this is (for me), is the reminder that many people from around the world have been there for me when I have struggled at different points in my life and it has made all of the difference in the (my) world.  In the context of schools, wouldn’t all kids learn better if they always knew they were cared for?  There is a correlation to my own growth and the feeling I get from so many caring people.
    What this post is meant to be is a “thank you” to so many “strangers” who reached out, wrote, called, DM’d me, texted me, and cared for me and my family when we needed it most.  Just like a learner needs food in their stomach to be able to concentrate, love and caring is needed for them to excel.
    Thank you to so many for giving me just that.

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