I hope I can keep this short and powerful. In the past few days, I have experienced a number of thoughts that weave together for me – all about the interesting intersection of relationships, technology, and learning. Let me see if I can draft a thesis statement:
As a learner in the 21st century, I strive to find balance among face-to-face relationships and virtual-tool connections, and I realize that both can enhance or conflict with the other. I am the fulcrum for my balance, and I will be in a state of dynamic equilibrium, not static equilibrium.
Through 21st century tools (like Twitter, WordPress, Google Reader, etc.), I can co-build a rich network of “pen pals.” Yet, I need to be mindful of not having my nose pointed at a screen at the expense of those humans most closely situated around me currently. It is a balance. Picture a scale adjusting to equilibrium as different weights are added and deleted from each side – the face-to-face side and the virtual-tool side.
For almost all of my life, I have been a runner. [Sorry for jarring shift. I promise this is a connected thread of thought…at least to me.] Since I was 9 years old, I have run most days of my life. At various points in my life, though, I have experienced ebbs and flows…ups and downs. Like a balance adjusting. And it has felt cyclical. Some years, I have trained to the point of being super competitive (in 2007, I was the fourth ranked short-distance triathlete in the state of Georgia). At those times, a middle-distance run for me is about 15 miles at a pretty fast clip. But I teeter close to over doing it. And the time comes at the expense of other life pursuits. This week, I struggled to run a mile. Seriously. I have been neglecting my running life for several months – the longest bout of that I have experienced since third grade when I started running 31 years ago. My son wanted to run a one-mile fun run, so I dusted off the shoes last Monday morning. I walked for 12 minutes and ran for 8 minutes. That was the entire work out. I was sore, sore, sore the next day. I had neglected a good balance of exercise. And I ridiculously thought that starting “training” on Monday would help me for a Saturday event. Thank goodness it was a Kindergarten mile. But I learned a valuable lesson…again.
I am blessed to have a powerful memory of when my running has gone overboard and when it has been neglected entirely. SO, I know from experience that I can get back to longer distances with less soreness, but I have to practice and be consistent. I have trained on that route before, and there is an implementation dip (as Michael Fullan adeptly explains in a number of his books) when I start doing something new, or even relatively new. And I need to be mindful not to do too much, too soon. And I need to stay mindful of not letting running – or whatever the action is – become my single pursuit that runs my life rather than the other way around. I am the fulcrum. I decide when to run – not too little or not too much, but just right. Likewise, I decide when the mobile technology is turned on and turned off – not too little and not too much, but just right. I decide.
Several colleagues have written this week about the delicate balance of social networking and face-to-face relationship-building. I encourage you to read them – I am pasting them in below. The balance is like running. If we want to be healthy, we have to find a balance. If we do too much or too little of one activity, we will get out of balance. When we strive to get that balance back, we will experience some soreness – one way or the other. But the soreness helps us calibrate our efforts. It is formative assessment and feedback about getting that equilibrium just right – in this case, the equilibrium among building a PLN and enhancing professional practice AND sustaining and improving those face-to-face relationships that are essential, critical, and vital.
It’s About Building Relationships | PCHSdirectorBLOG http://davemeister.net/2011/04/16/its-the-relationships-stupid/
Losing humanity? http://lynhilt.com/losinghumanity/
April 15, 2011: Jason Mollica – the3six5 http://the3six5.posterous.com/april-15-2011-jason-mollica
My Principal Doesn’t Need to Blog, Metanoia http://www.ryanbretag.com/blog/?p=2275
A Fair Comparison https://itsaboutlearning.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/a-fair-comparison/
10 Minutes to Blog – A Random List of Learnings Today https://itsaboutlearning.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/a-fair-comparison/
What connections do you find? How’s your balance?