This past week I had the experience of visiting a friend's school and seeing what they were up to. I've always been a believer in connecting with others online and learning from and with them. But that is only a piece of the puzzle. To truly learn from someone you have to see them in action!
Time and time again, I have learned so much more from personal visits to schools rather than conferences, webinars, and trainings.
This week I was able to spend a day at Brad Gustafson's (@GustafsonBrad) school in Minnesota. Brad and I have been friends for years and talk on a daily basis. Brad (and Ben Gilpin) have been my constant source of encouragement and coaching as I've entered this administrative world. I met Brad on Twitter, and over the last couple of years through Twitter and Voxer we've become great friends. Our wives are even good friends now and we have traveled together on several occasions.
It's one thing to hear about things someone says is happening at their school. It's another to see it in action, especially since Brad was just recently awarded the National Distinguished Principal for Minnesota.
I was so impressed with many things I saw. From the student work posted everywhere, the amount of teachers trying innovative seating/classroom design options, to the clear focus on literacy (student AND teachers advertising what they're reading), to the friendly little touches such as the welcome mats and signage. It was a great day with lots of learning.
I share all of this to remind and encourage you of the power of connecting with others. I always say "no matter where you work and how talented the people are that you work with, your ideas are still limited to the four walls". Putting yourself out there and connecting on sites like Twitter really does expand your learning and opens doors like nothing else. Then when you can push those "twitter" connections to the next level, and make face to face learning happen, it's a whole new ball game!