This post was co-written with the INCREDIBLE Roman Nowak.
For years we’ve heard, or talked, about the power of being a connected educator. About how when you put yourself out there and learn from and with others, it changes you. It grows you. It gives you a perspective you may have never had before. Today, we even encourage such connections, through various platforms, in the hope that it will bring about lasting change.
Both Roman and I have been in the educational field for several years. One of us completely in the Canadian education system and one of us in the United States education system. One of us with a focus and experience at the elementary school level, the other at the high school level. Opposing educational spectra meant to blur traditional divisions and create a lasting impact.
We’ve connected with other educators in our areas and in our own countries. We’ve learned and we’ve grown.
But for the first time, we connected with someone in another country: each other. Two passionate educators who strive to transform the learning experience for kids, to bring about change, by starting with the heart.
We met through unique circumstances. Roman had just finished reading “Kids Deserve It” and was able to convince me to come present in Canada. We met before the event and immediately formed a friendship. A friendship that has only grown exponentially since we parted ways. You see, if we are going to make a lasting impact for students by starting with the heart, we will have to lead and collaborate through the heart as well.
How is that even possible? And what’s the point?
Two educators, from different parts of the world are able to collaborate together, plan together, and be an encouragement to each other across international lines. And this is only a beginning. The power of change lies in the importance of human connections.
By connecting and growing together we’ve been able to see the subtle and the prominent differences in our education systems in each other’s countries. We’ve been able to see how alike, yet different, our cultures are. We’ve been able to discuss educational policies, institutional differences, lessons, teachers, unions, and so much more. Through all these discussions, there is always one common denominator : how will our decisions make things better for our kids. In education we often talk about change, transforming pedagogical practices, adding new technology, trying new apps. However, in the end, if our decisions don’t help improve learning, well-being or student engagement, are they really good decisions?
You see, there is great opportunity in learning and growing from others in your area, your state, or your country. But imagine the even greater learning when you connect with someone from a different country or culture. Not only does it help you grow, but it helps grow your worldview, your ideas and your experiences. It also reinforces what we tell our kids : learning happens beyond the school walls.
We can’t all travel the world and meet fascinating educators. But social media has destroyed those boundaries and allowed us limitless opportunities to connect, learn, and grow together.
Every child on this Earth matters. It doesn’t matter what country they’re coming from. But it will take all of us; it will take every one of us, working together, to bring the best education possible to every child.
It won’t be easy and it won’t happen quickly, but if we keep tearing down walls and collaborating, one by one, we will all make it happen. Because in the end #KidsDeserveIt.