Connectivity: It Makes a Difference

I had the opportunity to attend the National Association of Elementary School Principal's (#naesp14) Annual Conference in Nashville last week.  This was the most rewarding professional development opportunity that I have ever been a part of for a number of reasons.  I was honored to deliver a presentation about communication and public relations for 21st century principals, assisted in the Social Media Lounge, and made connections with members of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) that I will remember forever.  I attended a number of sessions that enhanced my knowledge of branding, productivity, instructional and digital leadership.  The sessions were great; however, they are not what I will remember the most.  The face to face connections that I was able to make with members of my PLN made the difference in this conference, particularly my work with Melinda Miller, Jenny Nauman, Joe Mazza, Vicki Day, Sandra Trach, Tony Sinanis, Kathy Melton, Erin Simpson, and Eric Bernstein in the Social Media Lounge.  These people are absolutely incredible, true models of leadership, and just exceptional individuals.  It was so fun to connect deeper with them and learn from their expertise throughout the conference.  We were able to have some fun too (as seen below).  Within this post, I will reflect on my three key takeaways from #naesp14.

  • Being a connected educator transforms the conference experience.  There are a number of people who have written about this topic who are a lot smarter and more articulate than me; however, it is so incredibly true.  Prior to this conference, I had met four of the Social Media Lounge Ambassadors face to face in Baltimore at #naesp13, but the conversations were limited. Through Twitter, Voxer, Google Docs, and other tools, we were able to connect and deliver fantastic mini sessions for the attendees at #naesp14, all before we arrived in Nashville.  Click here to check out the sessions that we offered.  When introduced to these people for the first time, it felt like I had already known them for years because I have read their blogs, participated in Twitter chats, watched their communication videos, and communicated through Voxer almost daily in the past two months.  My interactions with the Social Media Lounge team completely solidified the power of connectivity and how this has transformed our work as leaders. Quite simply, if you are not a connected educator, you are missing out on incredible opportunities.
  • Relationships matter and together we are better.  Anyone who knows me is probably sick of hearing this, but it cannot be overstated.  We are in the people business, and the relationships that we establish with others further our work.  I continue to be amazed by the positive energy, incredible talent, and willingness of my PLN to share anything and everything.  I have left the conference with strong connections to experts with Facebook as a communication tool, home/school partnerships, collaborative school blogging, Touchcast video updates, and people who are truly in the business to make a difference.

  • Connected educators are still very much the minority.  As I  led my presentation entitled CPR: Providing a Lifeline for Principals Through 21st Century Communication and Public Relations and had further conversations with others throughout the conference, it was clear to me that the majority of elementary principals are NOT connected.  I am not making a judgment with this statement, I am simply stating a fact.  Another thing that became very clear within my presentation and conversations following was the idea that elementary principals want to be connected, particularly when they see the value.  My favorite part of the conference was helping others to see the power of Twitter, Storify, Google Forms/Spreadsheets, and other tools to enhance their work as lead learners.  My day was made on Thursday when I had a conversation with a principal, and she said to me, "I did not realize that I could have that type of influence with Twitter; I have been missing the boat."  I have been a connected educator for about 18 months and I cannot tell you how much I have gained from my PLN.

What an experience at #naesp14.  I cannot thank the Social Media Lounge Ambassadors for all of their time, expertise, and commitment to this very important work.  My conference was made because of the connections that I have established in the past 18 months with these wonderful people.  Get connected, build your network, and continue to be great.  


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