Monday, July 13, 2015

What Connected Educators Do Differently Week 7: Key Connector 6 Know That It Is Still About the 3 Rs: Relationships, Relationships,Relationships

Relationships are so important in education, but had you thought about their importance in relation to your PLN? The authors mention a few specific topics regarding relationships -- trust, expect the best, respond in kind, a personal touch, celebrate good times, value diversity and dissent. Do you find any of these more of a struggle for you or more important in your relationship building?

 I'm so happy to see all of the sharing that went on with last week's blog post! As always, please go back and check out what other people had to say about your comment or others'. Next week we will be reading and discussing "Key Connector 7 Model the Way."

If you missed the announcement two weeks ago, we are going to have a #INeLearn Twitter chat specifically intended for you all! This will be a great opportunity for everyone, especially for those who have never participated in a Twitter chat. The chat will be on Thursday, July 30 at 9pm eastern. If you would like more information about the #INeLearn Twitter chat, including upcoming topics and archives of past chats, please visit http://inelearnchat.blogspot.com/. I will share more information in the coming weeks. I hope to see you all there!

We only have 3 weeks left in the summer book club. If you have not introduced yourself in the first week's blog post, please do so. These introductions are how I find all the participants to send out PGPs at the end of the book club.

118 comments:

  1. Growing in the arena of valuing diversity and dissent is where I appreciate a PLN the most. It is natural that my human contacts are generally like-minded people that I respect and with whom I enjoy spending time. While I have a variety of colleague friends--personalities, expertise, and ages, our students mirror less and less who we are. In an effort to develop a better understanding of what my students need, I have tried to expand my viewpoints and approaches through the diversity that a PLN offers. I see my growth in respecting the opinions of those in a PLN to be in direct relation to how I react to my students' differing interests and needs. Overall, I find this topic closely tied with the giver/taker conversation a couple of weeks ago as I have been more of an observer of those with differing opinions rather than one who interacts or offers my opinion on certain topics. In fact, I use that phrase PLN rather loosely because I really don't have a tight connection to a particular network beyond where I teach. What I have found refreshing among educators is the camaraderie, support, and understanding that we are 'all in this together' whether among fellow contributors to this blog, frequent Twitter posters or the people with whom I will start another adventure on Thursday, August 6.

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  2. I have always felt a deep passion for building trust, security, and safety within my classroom, my home, and my relationships. I believe learning happens when people feel welcomed and safe to be themselves. Pgs 81-84 IT STARTS WITH TRUST really resonated with me. The five key components to measure trustworthiness was a nice breakdown of how we can examine trust and find the break down if there is one. I could identify with the fears discussed on pg 83. I have found comfort this summer in this book club and other elearning conferences. I have been able to hear/see the speaker in person and then build the trust I needed to then follow them. I can use those that I have built trust in to check out who they follow and build my network from their recommendations.

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    1. I have to agree 100% with you. Trust is so important. It starts with students and goes all the way through the grape vine. I teach a topic that has sensitive topics (Child Development and Interpersonal Relationships) on the first day of class I always stress the importance of trust. If you can't have trust with someone you can't take that relationship any further-its simply a connection not a relationship. As far as trusting within PLN I think that's more difficult-because you haven't met face to face and that's important to me.

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    2. Hi Sarah and Amanda.
      Wasn't it interesting the research that was brought up in the chapter on higher/lower performing schools and the correlation with the level of trust? I think as educators, it is natural and normal, not to mention integral, to develop that sense of trust in our classrooms, with each section representing its own community and its own standards of trust. If there is no establishment of trust from the beginning, we cannot aspire to have meaningful two-way communication throughout the course. As educators,we do this--we build that trust in our classrooms but we cannot control the rest of the school's environment into which we release our students when that bell rings. So, my question is: What are we accomplishing if we have one set of standards and a well-developed level of trust in our individual classrooms but there does not exist the same standard outside of sphere of influence? I agree wholeheartedly that this idea of "trust" is a powerful echo in this chapter and one that has to be dealt with and addressed on a school wide focus for optimal realization of student potential.

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  3. I enjoyed reading this chapter and reflecting on how I see this in my life as an educator. I am saying that trust is the most important and I liked how the book broke down what trust really is. I plan on using that later in some of the classes that I teach. I also related to the "Celebrate Good Times", I think we are so often lost in a world of "how to improve" that we miss sight of all the good things that happen! I have followed a few new blogs recently and they just seem to talk about "how to improve" or "how to do t_________better", it sometimes boggles my mind on how I can keep pushing myself to do better. We need to look at what we've already done and be proud of that! I can't help but touch on the importance of "dissent". I love to challenge my students about why they believe they are right, or hold that value. It gets them thinking outside the box and challenges them to hold to it instead of conforming to a population. (For example we do a debate, "does money buy happiness") I think dissent among educator is how we grow this profession. We are all doing this book study about the impact Twitter has on education. Most of us will go back to school with a different opinion of Twitter then those who didn't do this book study or don't have an account.
    Looking forward to the edchat!

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    1. I agree with you about educators being "lost in a world of 'how to improve.'" I often feel that those in charge don't notice the good things that are happen. Good is never feels good enough. I agree that it is mind boggling that we keep pushing ourselves to do better. You begin to feel like there is no time to "Celebrate Good Times."

      I too feel like I will return to school with a different mindset about Twitter. I like to post what I find on Pinterest. From doing this book study, I have learned a lot about the social medias out there. I enjoy reading the chapters and pushing myself to try the suggested activities.

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    2. I find it difficult to challenge my middle school students about their beliefs. Many of them just want to fit in with the norm and will not voice their opinions. Others will just say the exact opposite as the rest of the class just to be funny or obstinate. Discussions can be difficult with pre-teens at times.

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    3. Amanda,
      You have captured the heart of what so many educators feel out there--that we are n a constant cycle of improvement and if so, then what we are doing must not be good or good "enough." Thank you for picking up on the need to celebrate what is going right, what we do well; that in itself speaks volumes. Like others have stated, the Twitter perception has definitely changed for me. I just need to find the time to step out and brave the PLN world in order to benefit most from it. TIme...that four letter word concept! Grrr...

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  4. I think trust is the most important thing in building any kind of relationship. If you are going to ask for help in situations you have to have trust that people are there to help you. I would probably say I have the most trouble with dissent. I tend to not comment at all when I disagree with something rather than be upfront with my thoughts and beliefs. I think it is important to have people in your PLN that think the same way as you and people who don't think the same way as you do. That way you see a different way of looking at things. I plan to find more educators to follow on Twitter that have things to share and where I can share as well.

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    1. I tend to not comment when I disagree with a colleague. In the back of my mind, I fear that it may turn into a confrontation that will escalate into an unpleasant work environment. I was raised not to argue with authority figures and that may have something to do with how I approach situations like this. I would like to try the Take 5 suggestion listed in the book where you take an opposing stance against an educator's point of view. This may allow me to feel more comfortable in "real-life" situations to stand up for what I think.

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    2. Janet, I love your first 2 sentences, I think trust is the most important thing in building any kind of relationship. If you are going to ask for help in situations you have to trust that people are there to help you. These are so true! If I am asking, on line, for help in planning a lesson I must trust, in the back of my mind, that all of these people responding, are doing so to help me with my problem!

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  5. I love the reminder in this chapter that the whole point of being connected is to build relationships, with each other, with our students, and for our students. It can be difficult to "put yourself out there" on social media and trust educators you have never met, but it is worth it! The more I connect online, the better the sharing becomes. My experience has been that a little bit of bravery leads to a snowball effect on the trust we build online, which translates into even more connections when we finally can meet in person at a conference or event.

    Diversity and Dissent seem to be the most difficult aspects of building a PLN. Of course, a variety of grade leves, school situations, and gender are represented through educators on Twitter and other social media; that's not the issue. Instead, I agree with the authors that the mindset of most connected educators, forming connections outside their buildings and the school day is largely the same. I often hear the criticism that Twitter can be an "echo chamber" of the same ideas rehashed over and over, but I do see regularly and try to engage in discussions where educators do not see eye to eye as well. I think part of this is our natural tendency not to cause conflict, but we need to do ourselves a favor too and engage each other in the types of discussions that may cause us to disagree and clarify our beliefs. Argumentation skills aren't just for the ELA classroom!

    I recently began connecting with other educators on Voxer, and I have found that to be a platform where educators are a little less afraid to push each other and have collegial discussion about disagreements. Something about actually hearing the other person's voice makes it easier to hear the tone and intent of comments that might be taken the wrong way or out of context with text only.

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    1. Chantell,

      I agree. Diversity and dissent is usually the difficult aspect of building a PLN. I think we all like to be comfortable and like to have our ideas lifted up, but it is usually difficult to grow when we are only surrounded by those who share our same ideas. Whether the end result of diversity and dissent in a PLN is the strengthening of our own ideas, or the move to accepting new ideas, D&D is definitely a must.

      I am naturally a skeptical and argumentative person (not always proud of that), but when used correctly, I like the feeling I get after engaging in a professional debate over a topic. It is a great way to see the other person's point of view and not simply assume what their convictions are.

      Great post!

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  6. We build relationships with our peers in our building - our departments, other departments, our administrators - and these are the relationships that we seem to gravitate toward when we need advice. Or at least, I did. But now that I am creating a PLN, I am so excited to build on these new relationships. I am able to find and share valuable information from so many different sources - via Twitter, Facebook, Twitter chat - that I didn't even know existed. It has been a rewarding and interesting experience so far.

    One of the ways our department built relationships was by having a cook-off. As if English teachers don't have enough to do, we created the first year's challenge as a cookie bake-off. Using an NCAA-type bracket, each teacher would bake enough cookies for the department, and would compete with another department member, and then our department members would vote. This would continue throughout the second semester until we had a winner by the end of the year. We had a chili cook-off, desserts, and appetizers, to name a few. We had some fun with these cook-offs, and we even created a cook book with all of the recipes for the entire school at the end. Another way to build relationships, also involving food, has been for different departments to host a luncheon (during the various teacher lunch periods) for the entire school. We have had a pasta bar, baked potato bar, soups and chilis, sandwiches. The meals depend on what the departments decide, and some of the smaller departments and even the office secretaries would join together while the bigger departments (English, math, science) usually have enough people to cover the meal within the one department. It is always an enjoyable experience to have these luncheons, which happen about once a month, and they help to build relationships with everyone in the building. One positive impact with these contests or luncheons is the students see these events, and they see the relationships the teachers are building and reinforcing with each other.

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    1. We have gotten so busy in our building that we don't do this anymore- we didn't even do our end of the year luncheon in May like always. For the first time in 8 years that I've worked in this building, we didn't get together to celebrate the end of the year- and I missed it. Organizing these sort of events isn't my thing, but maybe I need to step up and instigate some fellowship this year. You have some fun ideas!

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    2. The baseball/hot dog theme one we had was the most creative one we had! :) Rhonda :)

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    3. My school is so busy too that we don't have time to do fun things with each other much or if something is scheduled, sometimes it says no spouse/kids and not many show up then. By creating a PLN, it is really nice to hear from others on things that work for them and just new ideas overall. I chat with the art teacher and pe teacher mainly as we only get a lunch break 4 days a week. I don't have a lot of time to go chat with other teachers or even sit in the teacher's lounge for lunch, so a PLN is nice to have.

      I really like your ideas that you posted for developing relationships with colleagues!

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  7. I've been rethinking the time I put into relationships with colleagues in the past. I'm a trusting person until you do something to prove otherwise and have been called naive for doing so but have found I'm a much more positive person when I don't get caught up in the "workplace politics" that can happen. I've been at a one teacher per grade (1-6) building for 13 years so I could concentrate on putting all my energy into building a classroom environment of trust without ruffling too many feathers.

    When I joined Twitter in January I had a newfound respect for acquiring professional relationships. The feeling that I was somewhat alone in this education journey didn't feel so lonely so whereas many are reluctant to join, I got excited about professional relationships again. I still feel new to growing a PLN and feeling I have anything to contribute but it's exciting having found educators who are passionate about their work and willing to share.

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    1. I am very trusting and naive as well and it has cost me many times in the past. It is very frustrating and makes me very hesitant to reach out or even speak up.

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    2. I, too, am that way--I found out the hard way I was way too trusting--"naive"--as Tracy said. I am from a different part of the state and really stuck out when we first moved down here.I learned the hard way the unwritten rules of a different geographic region and work environment. As a result, I have learned not speak up and reach out as well--it keep me "safe.". Not a pleasant environment in which to be; it goes against my natural tendency to interact in a positive manner.

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  8. I have to say that my building is very good about working together on reaching goals. Especially this past year because we started Project Based Learning. We meet across all grade levels discussing the different projects and helping each other find materials or speakers for the projects. I can not remember a time where I asked for help and came up empty from the staff in our building or district wide.

    l am still having a problem with Twitter. Maybe I am on the older side but I interact with educators in other arenas. Maybe my problem is I do interact with educators in other medians and adding one more is hard to fit into my schedule. I belong to many discussion groups in the education field and keeping up with each of these groups take up a lot of my time.

    I am also a very trusting person and many people have also called me naïve since I have been in elementary schools. Sorry to say I have been the but of many jokes because of it. If you break that trust the first time I am very forgiving but if you break it more than once I can no longer call you a friend. Then working with that person becomes a tricky.

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    1. I'm naive too- you aren't alone- but that's OK- I think it's better than being a hardened cynic (though it takes all types)! Oh, how many times I'm the one that doesn't get the joke- in fact, that's a joke in my family, that Kari often doesn't get it. I agree- working with broken relationships is tricky.

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  9. For the first time, in this chapter I started thinking about my PLN differently. My PLN isn't just my online education world- it's the teachers in my school and on my 6th grade team. THEN it was a total paradigm shift. Our building has a very passionate staff (we are extremly passionate and excellent teachers in our subject classrooms, extremely committed to strong, vibrant relationships with our crazy middle school students)- but sometimes that has led to personal issues in all of these relationship areas mentioned in the chapter- trust, expecting the best, responding in kindness, personalization, celebrating good times, and valuing both diversity and dissent. I had some really rough times emotionally as a teacher last year- not because of what happened with my students in my classroom but because of interactions with adults outside of my room. It was like a slap in the face each time, leaving me deeply wounded. The entire year was tricky- I felt like I was walking a tightrope most of the time, which is not my normal personality. Struggling to stay positive and not be sucked in by negativity, struggling to forgive AND forget (which is so much harder), struggling to trust- it was a daily battle for long stretches during the year. And then there were some great times of fellowship and fun, professional growth, and extreme teamwork and collaboration that really strengthened my relationships with the teachers in my building. Reading this chapter reminded me that just like our out-of-school relationships (marriages, friendships, family), our PLN goes through ups and downs but it takes a committment to working on the relationships to weather all of those storms and come out stronger. I am ready to give this year a clean slate, to start fresh with each person on my team (who are GREAT people- I have a fabulous PLN inside and outside of my school building), and put in the work on my end to rebuild the trust, to practice random acts of kindness and personal touches for my team teachers, to celebrate more and complain less, to believe the best always, and to value the diversity of dissent on our passionate teacher team. This past year, in reflection, taught me a lot- like many others, I'm rather naive at times even after 20 years of teaching- and so I'm choosing to put aside any bitterness and to "glean the gold" from the year to make my PLN relationships stronger. I'm not trying to sound like "Pollyanna" (one of my nicknames in college for always being so positive), but that's what I need to focus on this year. It's what I focus on in my classroom- and I'm convinced it's one of the reasons I love teaching so much. So that's my take-away from this chapter, which just my be my favorite one of all (which I didn't expect).

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    1. Many of us understand your tricky relationship predicament, and the greatest disappointment is when these cracks in relationships come after years of building a solid foundation supported by good times in days gone by. A lot of stressors contribute to how we deal with others: these can be from a work load, administrative pressure, difficulties at home, lack of sleep, hormones, the list goes on… I have been amazed how we can individually enter a building ready to teach our students, then, by 8:15 a.m. a cyclone of events and people changes everything. I do believe that taking away these stressors, we find the same caring, genuine people that may react poorly to events. The people haven't changed; the circumstances have. One great thing about teaching is that every year comes to an end, and we start clean with the next year. You mention your pollyanna personality: I think that is perhaps what is most helpful in moving forward with relationships…holding onto last year/last week/yesterday is not healthy. We all need to renew our strength daily.

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    2. I am so sorry that you had a difficult year due to adults. Sometimes it amazes me that so many adults are able to work together well for so long - considering all of the other pressures we each have in our lives. But when the wheels fall off, oh, does it feel awful. At that point it gets tempting to shut the door and teach, but as adults (especially in middle school) it is important to model working through differences to become a common goal unit again. I hope this coming year is great again.

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    3. I agree- letting go day by day and year by year is the secret to letting go of the stress. I'm so thankful I get a fresh start every day too- and forgiveness (both asking for it and giving it) is a fabulous thing!

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    4. Kari,
      I have been right there with you for years. I, too, have been referred to as "Pollyanna," and there is nothing wrong with bringing others up and being that positive glue that is needed in a successful team. An idea came to me while reading your post and the replies...I used to coach Speech Team and every year that Sectionals would roll around, our selected team would create a phrase that would serve as the "pick me up if I am feeling down" impetus. Maybe that is something I can personally do for myself as I approach this upcoming year--to keep things looking up. Best of luck. Thanks for putting your situation out there in your post. It probably speaks to many educators and work environments. Relationships are tricky and in constant flux--I guess we shouldn't get too comfortable where we are and just be flexible, open-minded and willing to adapt and go with the flow to, hopefully, something better, stronger, and more productive. Bravo!

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  10. I feel relationships are the foundation everything else is built upon. Whether that is with our students, teachers, administrators, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, parents, and also our PLN. A bug part of building those relationships is trust and respect. I don't just seek to fill my PLN with people that think the same way I do, I want those people that challenge my train of thought. I don't mind following that person that might say something a little controversial in the education system eyes. I feel that is when we learn the best. I have learned so much from my PLN over the last two years, both in and out of our building. I look forward to growing a PLN full of people that are looking to build that relationship of mutual trust and respect. It is always nice to finally meet someone from your PLN for the first time face to face, but some of my best twitter conversations have come with people I may never meet.

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  11. In thirty years of teaching, I have found that relationships--with my colleagues, with other educators, with my students, with parents, with administrators, with support staff--are what it's all about. Once a positive relationship has been established, the free flow of ideas is such a stimulant to creativity and critical thinking. Dissent? Bring it on! It is only by being challenged that I can refine or revise my own opinion.

    My school as a whole puts a lot of value on relationships. In a school of about 750 students, the goal is for everyone to feel connected somewhere. The freshmen take a day out of the first week of school to go on retreat together. Each teacher and staff member also has a small group of students that we meet with once a week for encouragement and fellowship. With this small group, we plan a community service activity, sometimes once a year, sometimes once a semester.

    Our teachers are connected, too. As part of our PLC, each department meets once a week for 45 minutes (not enough time!) to share ideas and work on improving student learning. During that time, two departments will sometimes work on a topic together. We also take time to just be social together--bowling, cook-offs, catered-lunch days, etc.

    At least for me, this attention to relationships has produced a safe, stimulating environment where students and teachers alike can grow. Relationships are key!

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    1. I love the idea of a Freshman retreat and the small groups that you meet with! What kind of "retreat" do the Freshman go on? What do you typically do with the small groups when you guys aren't planning community service activities, etc?

      Love it!

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    2. I think the idea of the small groups led by a teacher is fabulous! Integrating the community service element is keen. There is so much potential in this idea and activity but I wonder if it could be repeated within a larger school population? The number you gave seems ideal as a smaller school. Within that system, you have to have relationships, otherwise, that close of a community will not function effectively.

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    3. I teach with Karlan and agree with her that a retreat would be awesome for our students. Would love to hear more about what you have done!

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  12. I’m also a very trusting person. I feel that is one of the most important aspects to any relationship. I also always expect the best when dealing people whether in person or online. As I grow my PLN, I find I put value in diversity as that is where I start to learn and grow. The hardest part for me is the personal touch. I’m always afraid of putting myself/ideas “out there”. I’ve worked on this in my own work environment this year. Although, I pushed myself to step up and out I have hit much resistance. I think the real life experience has made me a little more hesitant to share online also.

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  13. Reflecting on this topic...I too am a very trusting person which unfortunately, has not always been one of my strong characteristics in any position. I am very honest with people and this too seems to be a trait often taken advantage of in life. In reading through others responses, I am not alone in this feeling of expecting the best when dealing with others in any situation, but it can be difficult and very frustrating because I do not get involved in the politics of education. I also am very hesitant in sharing my thoughts and ideas because of getting stepped on or denied in the end. I have a lot to offer, but tend to hold back often. I have lived all over the world and am near completion of my Doctorate, but do not consider myself very intelligent because of people that I have worked with in the past. I am hoping, I just started a new position last December, and am beginning to grow a new PLN, that this one will prosper and I will attract the right people this time around.

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  14. I have enjoyed reading about how everyone builds relationships within your schools. Definitely something I hope to work on within my own school. We all seem to have positive relationships with each other but really need more bonding time- maybe cook-offs are one thing we can do. (and anything that has to do with food is usually very successful). I also want to comment on what this chapter said about making the time to regularly connect with members of their PLN via social media and also face to face. As an older teacher, I have know life before text messages etc. I feel like texting is so easy that we forget about the importance of face to face communication. Students are the same and I always like to reinforce this in my classroom environment. I love using and utilizing social media! At the beginning of this book I was thinking that I would never have the time to incorporate twitter but I have begun to see the importance and I am enjoying the contacts I am making! When I try to explain this to others I just get "I don't do twitter". I just wish everyone would read this book! I do not think I will ever be able to be as connected as some of the fantastic people that I am following but I am at least trying to contribute and be a giver and a taker. I am becoming more trusting! Trust is something that I start out with each quarter with my students. I want to build the trust in my classroom immediately! One activity we do (that I am sure many of you already know about) is the "Marshmallow Challenge" We discuss collaboration with working in groups, trust, and communication among other things with this activity. I will add the five key components to measure trust to my discussion (from page 82) and also to my professional relationships. Very valuable information!

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    1. Barbara��
      Twitter is such a challenge for me and I consider myself very tech savvy. I just cannot keep up. I agree with you on the face to face communication; it lacks significantly in today's society.

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    2. Barbara--How much time are you investing in Twitter daily and then how many times a week? Is there a better time that you have found to hold as Twitter time? I am just so hesitant to fit one more thing in my already full schedule mom of four, full-time teacher and grad student. Calgon, take me away!!!!

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    3. I do not have a set schedule for twitter but I do check it at least a couple times a day and read tweets, visit a few hashtags etc. I have found many things to retweet or to "favorite" but I am finding it hard to fit the chats in! I think it is probably like everything else... The more you put into it the more you will get out of it. That being said I totally understand being hesitant! You are super busy!! My kids are grown, it is summer and I am really only planning a wedding so I have been able to explore this.

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  15. I totally agree with the "relationships, relationships, relationships" theme of this chapter -- for me, all of the relationships involved with being an educator are what make the job fun! I did not become a teacher until I was in my late 30's, and I had several other jobs before I became a teacher. More than any other job I have had, teaching provides an opportunity to develop relationships with people of all ages and backgrounds. I also love that we have different levels of relationships -- interacting with students is vastly different from interacting with their parents, and interacting with colleagues and administrators is different still. That makes this job interesting and fun!
    Most of this book has encouraged us to get connected with other educators across the country. It's a great opportunity to develop more relationships, but I still find it daunting. The book has done a good job of making it seem more manageable though and this chapter helps put it all in perspective. I have to wrap my brain around the idea of a trusting relationship with someone I have never actually met, but I love the idea of learning more about my job my connecting with a more diverse group of people. I also agree with the idea of respectful dissent -- we can't possibly learn new to embrace new ideas if no one ever disagrees with us!

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  16. I really enjoyed in this chapter how they stressed how important relationships are in within your school and your PLN. And how your relationship with your PLN does not have to be all in social media, but can still be face to face. I know it would be an amazing experience to meet some of the people I have connected with through this book in person. During this chapter it also gave me a chance to reflect on how I am doing with my relationships with others (in my school and on social media). In my reflections, I realized that sometimes the relationship can be one-sided, but with others it’s a lot of give and take with sharing and really getting to know one another.

    With the topics, I try to do all of them, especially “celebrate good times.” The last couple of summers I have volunteered as a camp counselor and they always stress to “see the good happening” in what the kids are doing, and acknowledge it, instead of focusing on the not so good that sometimes can happen. Why not take celebrating to our level and do the same thing with our PLN in seeing the good things happen? I know that in my professional and personal life I feel good when people recognize the work that I am doing and same with my PLN. People want other people to see the good things they are doing and recognize it.

    In my opinion, all of the topics are important in relationship building, but trust has to be one of the most important. It has to be the foundation of a relationship, whether it is with students, parents or colleagues. And when you demonstrate all of these ideas, it creates a good relationship, and others will see you practicing what you preach, and I feel others will do the same for you.

    And I hope as a return to school in the next couple of weeks, that I can build stronger relationships with my colleagues and work on putting into practice a lot of the ideas that I have learned from this book.

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  17. I have always felt that trust in the classroom is important. Students must know that you trust them to do what it is you ask them to do. I also feel the personal touch is the most important part of your classroom. A connection with a student over a sport they play, car they drive something that is important to them can help in so many ways in the classroom. A simple hows your car or ??? can get students to understand that you do care about them and that helps them perform better in your class.

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  18. I feel that I succeed in "celebrate good times." I enjoy letting others know when a colleague achieves an award or completes a mission they had set out to do. I feel that recognizing others and their achievements holds an important place in a PLN. On the other hand, I struggle with "value diversity and dissent." I avoid conflict (for the most part) on all occasions. I do not like argumentative attitudes with my PLN. While others have different ideas and thoughts that appreciate and respect, I would rather not have to approach them about our differences. Great chapter!

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    1. Laura, I am with you! It is always important to celebrate the good things that go on with our colleagues and with our students. And like you, I do not like to get into conflict either. I would say that sometimes I "go with the flow" too much. This book has inspired me to work on becoming a stronger leader so that I don't "go with the flow," and start to share my own ideas and concerns with my P2LN and not be afraid of their response to them.

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  19. As far as it comes to relationships, I am a huge face to face person. It is not surprising that the people I connect with and reach out for help in my school are those teachers that are in this e-book club. We have all participated in an ebook club in the past (or this might be a first for a few) due to the encouragement of one of my fellow teacher/friends.
    As I have participated in the ebook club, I have found several people to follow on twitter. I have participated in an #edchat and found several people of different backgrounds to communicate with. I have even touched based personally with a member of my PLN via email. I went into twitter this time around with no question of trust. I expect the best from those I choose to follow, and continue to respond when I have the opportunity to. I was even able to retweet a request I was not able to answer!!

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  20. The issue of trust is key to good classroom discussions (argumentation) so students can talk to one another without fearing a rude response. As educators, we need to be able to trust each other to be polite if disagreeing. We do have meetings in which we talk about school improvement, and sometimes we don't agree about how to change - trust is key.
    I originally became interested in Twitter because I was looking for educational movers & shakers. I was looking into flipped classroom and 1:1 research, and I didn't have anyone near my location to talk to. The diversity I seek is in methods and ideas, but I'm not afraid of conceptual differences.
    I would like to find a class of students to work with this year - sharing ideas and data (6th science.) Any connections you could help in the US or otherwise would be appreciated.
    My principal started our school Twitter account as a celebration page about our school. It has been a good reminder to celebrate colleagues and students as they reach achievements. I'm considering doing a once a week connection for my homeroom by having them share something good that happened. I haven't decided whether they should share it out with the class or just ask them to share it with me. Opinions?

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    1. I like your idea of using homeroom to celebrate good things that happen to your students. Not having a large amount of experience with Twitter, perhaps it would be better for the students to just share it with you. If you like their response you could retweet it with the whole class.

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  21. Relationships are so important to teachers! We have relationships with so many people..our coworkers, our administrators, our students and their families, our own families, and more. I am lucky to be at a school that values relationships, and our school has a wonderful family environment that extend throughout our staff and spills out into our school families. I truly believe that our students are excelling, not only because they have excellent teachers, but they have an environment where they know that all are supported, respected, and trusted. I was diagnosed with cancer earlier in January. I had surgery and chemo during the school year, and it was tough. It was those relationships that kept me afloat, that gave me the support and confidence that I needed to continue to work and be the best that I could be for my students. This is an extreme example (it's not every day that a staff member has cancer!) but no matter what the situation...a classroom discipline problem, needing a new idea to teach an old concept, help with using technology...it's the relationships that help us be our best.

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    1. Teresa, we were glad to help you this year! We are lucky we have a school community that is ready at a moments notice to help each other out!

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  22. My school co-workers are like family. Some I like to see daily and a couple I would prefer to see at reunions only. Many of the intern students I have had are now working professionals. Social media allows us to stay connected and to build a new relationship as professionals

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    1. Haha! Love the family reunion remark... :)

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  23. I find myself a very reserved person, except with those in my closest net of relationships. I prefer to listen to others discuss their ideas and opinions first before I note my own.n However, I believe that my approach establishes trust and my responses show kindness. I often have people tell me things that they would not necessarily tell others.

    I can emphasize and see others point of view, even if I may disagree with them. I would like to take the book's Take 5 action step of actively seeking out an opportunity to tweet something that may go against another educator's point of view. This would be a great opportunity for me to "play devil's advocate" and speak my own thoughts without hesitation. T

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  24. I completely agree that good relationships are so important in teaching. Not only is it important to have with co-workers, but also with the students. Creating relationships builds trust which is vital in the classroom.

    This chapter has really made me stop and examine those in my PLN. Up until this summer, I connected with those in my building or in my corporation. I might have a few from surrounding corporations that I would collaborate with, but they were limited. It wasn't because I didn't want to connect, I just didn't know how to go about it. Through these discussions, and social media, I feel that this has opened up a way for me to do this now. I'm also excited to connect with those that are at various levels of teaching. I tend to gravitate towards those in my particular grade or subject. However, I know there is SO much to learn from those at various grade, subject, and experience levels.

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    1. Good points, Jamie. I tend to gravitate to other special education teachers. I have learned this summer that I need to branch out. It is amazing how much I can learn from others when I engage with people that specialize in different subjects or age groups.

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    2. I was just like you at the start of this summer. I had only connected with those in my building/ corporation. I feel this book has helped me open up and now I am really excited about my relationships in my PLN!

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  25. This chapter made me stop and think of the importance of the PLN and how I interact with those people. Since there is no face to face it is harder to form relationships. This chapter really made me think about the adult relationships in my building.There is a lot of focus on how we build relationships with our students in my building but not with our colleagues. This is such an important part of our work environment and often not addressed.

    I really like the Celebrate Good Times section. As educators we are so focused on testing and helping our students improve that we often forget to celebrate all the accomplishments that our students do have.

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    1. Adelle--
      What a great observation! What kinds of schools would we have if we invested in our staffs the amount of time (and money) that are dedicated to improving students' relationships, trust, outcomes, etc...?

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  26. Building trust is essential in all relationships. I think it may be more difficult to build trust in a PLN or online setting. I build trust face to face. For example, I have been involved in 2 book studies this summer. One has been face to face and another has been online. I find the trust and discussion is very much more deep and candid in a face to face situation. I think working with a PLN or learning team in my building will have more impact if we meet face to face to get to know one another and build trust. Am I being too old fashioned? I don't know. What do others think?

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    1. I am right there with you. I think it is easier to build trust with people that you meet face to face. Online only relationships feel superficial to me.

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  27. Most of my PLN is face-to-face with teachers, administrators and support staff in my building or corporation. I also have a few connections in other school corporations. I also feel it is easier to trust the ones with whom you actually have a personal, and face- to-face connection.

    I have also given some thought to my PLN. I am becoming more aware how social media will allow me to expand my PLN. During the summer days, I have had more time to pay attention to Twitter and other media. When school begins, I am not sure if that time will be there. I guess it is like everything else in life, if it is important…time will be found. I see more value in Twitter now that I have read these few chapters of this book.

    I love to celebrate good times with all those that I have relationships. Teachers, administrators, students, and personal friends and family all should be celebrated when something is going well.


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  29. I agree that relationships are so important in education, and no I had not stopped to think of my PLN relation. Trust is an important part of education. We trust that the grade level teachers are preparing the students with the skills that are needed to success the next year. You expect each educator to be doing their best to develop their teaching skills. Networking and improve is the goal for most educators. It is the few who settle for what they are doing and have always done to be good enough. With all the testing and school grades, it leaves little time to celebrate good times because that can change with each new test or expectation that non-education state officials decides to implement. Our school does struggle with trust - We don't celebrate good times. It seems schools are more worried about cuties things than practices that have proven to be reliable or effective strategies.

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  30. I think it's important to build trusting relationships in my PLN and offer/use the network for a variety of purposes. One that I thought was a great idea is asking others in my PLN for suggestions in areas of needed professional development. I can also see how it would be helpful when seeking out advice and getting a perspective from someone outside of my district. Celebrating each other builds those personal relationships and is also builds confidence. I think it is important to follow others of all different kinds of background. We learn and grow by being connected with people that have a different way of looking at things. I have collaborated with the same teacher for the past 7 years. We have built up a highly affective preschool program. The reason is because our teaching styles are so different so we are able to diversify our lessons to meet students' needs.

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  31. From my experience in different corporations, I have seen systems fail due to trust issues, low expectations, ignoring others, lack of "personal touch," focus on improvement with little to no celebrations of good times, and atmospheres in which diversity and dissent are loathed. Put all these together and you have a toxic environment for staff, faculty, and students because all of this will eventually trickle down to them. For me, personally and professionally, what really solidifies relationships would be expecting the best, those personal touches that can make a world of difference for someone, the focus and celebration of the positive, and the valuing of different approaches. It is a stark contrast.

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  32. I think that relationships are the key to success in life and school. I really enjoyed reading this chapter because it reaffirmed what I already believed. I work very hard to establish meaningful relationships with my students and parents. I think they have to understand that you are there to help them and trust you, as the teacher. One way that I put my self out there last year was to give all parents my personal cell phone number. I had business cards made (they were really cheap!) and included my email, school phone, and also my cell phone. I did include to please not call after 9pm because I have small children of my own. A lot of my colleagues gave me a hard time about doing this, anticipating I would get tons of irrelevant texts and calls. I'm very happy to report that it went very well. Most of the calls/texts were questions regarding field trips, special days, etc. I think it sent a message to parents that I am there for them and that I trust them.

    In regards to the PLN the hardest part for me is dissent. I think its easier to disagree with someone face to face because you can smile at them or relay dissent in a way that's nice. I worry about coming off wrong through a tweet, like a know-it-all. I guess I worry about hurting peoples feelings. After reading this I think that I can be a little more upfront on my thinking and realize that everyone just agreeing with everything all the time may not be in the best interest of a PLN. I would definitely want someone to help me with a new perspective on an issue or sometimes to just say your way off!

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    1. I agree, I also worry that my tweets might come out wrong or that I know-it-all. I know I have to have trust that my PLN is there to help me and that they also want to hear from me.

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  33. I have always talked about the power of the 3 R's - Rigor, Relevance and Relationships. I believe that academic success occurs when teachers and students can relate to each other. This book opened my eyes to the power of adult relationships and how the many forms it can take. We are going to emphasis the importance of communication in our building this year. This book has been very valuable to me.

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    1. I agree, Jill. This book has been very valuable to me too. I look forward to taking and trying the ideas in my own school this next school year!

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  34. The relationships I have with the people I meet on line and in my work place are usually built with trustworthy people who respond in a similar way as I think.
    I took the quiz mentioned on page 96. I was given a trust quotient of 5.9. The average was 7. This surprised me! I thought I was more trustworthy! I was told I did well in the areas of credibility, reliability and intimacy. I needed to work on self-orientation, which means to pay attention to others and to show I care more. These are good characteristics to try to follow.
    I do not try to meet others who are too diverse from me or have dissent views from me. I know I should because I could learn much from them. I am a person who dislikes conflict and that is probably why I shy away from these people.

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  35. I do make it a priority to respond to others in current online PLNs, my school, and in life. Everyone enjoys an encouraging word or appreciation for their thoughts. About the dissent, we use accountable talk frames and students are encouraged to say, "I hear your point, but I kindly disagree. Have you ever thought about...?" Perhaps we all need to keep accountable talking frames handy during staff meetings. https://www.pinterest.com/alessandrahug/accountable-talk-in-the-classroom/

    Our schools does lots of celebrating! It is encouraged in the classroom, the school, and across the district. Our superintendent does a "Superintendent's Corner" every Friday and invites 2 teachers or admin or others across the district to be videoed with him in a chat. It is available on our district website. Classroom tweets are recognized and retweeted on the district twitter feed. School board meetings spend the first 15 minutes of every meeting celebrating students, teachers, and others in educational successes. It's a great place to be!

    Along with this, there is a small faction of people that have trust issues in our building. We continue to work on this as a building and a staff. Change is hard and scary for some. Building trust is hard for some that have had life disappointments.

    I say, "Celebrate Life!" Even when bad times are present, I always believe good times will come soon if we keep a positive attitude and expect the best. D :)

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Try this site and scroll down to the Conversation Stems for dissenting.
      http://bcesgough.weebly.com/first-grade-resources.html

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  36. This chapter reinforced what I already truly believe, that relationships are a huge key to teaching. I've always felt the saying, "Kids don't care what you know, until they know you care," was so true. I've also learned that it is crucial for me to take the time to build those positive relationships with my students and families early in the school year. The strong relationships I had with my colleagues, students, and families at my previous school system are what made the decision to leave so hard. I knew I would miss those relationships.

    I also really enjoyed reading more about trust and how important trust is when trying to improve my school. When I was thinking about how my school builds trust, the first thing that came to mind was the "family groups" all of our students are put into during the year. Each family group has about 15 students ranging in grades K-6 with an adult (teacher/instructional assistant) as their leader. As each family group works together to get to know each other throughout the school year with team building activities, it is easy to see how the trust grows. Kindergarteners are building trust with sixth graders which probably wouldn't happen otherwise. At the end of the year, each family group comes together for an all school field day. Having my own family group each year, has given me to opportunity to also build connections with students I would never have met since I teach K-3 Title 1. Seeing how all the family groups come together at the end of the year is a really neat experience!

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    1. Terri, I love the quote you wrote above. "Kids don't care what you know, until they know you care." I teach preschool within the public school setting and I absolutely adore my job. One of the main goals of our preschool program is kindergarten readiness. However, that extends far beyond being able to recognize letters and numbers. For me, I want my students AND their families to know that relationships are a priority here. By forming positive and caring relationships with my students and their families, you will often see the academic components of school readiness flourish.

      I believe the importance of connecting with students and their families and that leading to success within the classroom also parallels the importance of connecting with fellow colleagues within the schools we work and outside. The more we are connected with others in a trustworthy and respectful relationship the better we will be as educations and maybe even human beings.

      I like the quote on page 81, "Relationships are of vital importance in the lives of all educators; we are in, perhaps, the most people-oriented business of all, and, ultimately, it is our people not our programs that will dictate our level of success." First off I enjoy thinking we are in the "people business." Often times our careers to not bring about lavish paychecks...however what better career can one have than being in the people business?!? Secondly, I completely agree that "often it is our people not our programs that will dictate our level of success." People need to feel respected and trusted in order to thrive and grow...whether a 3 year old (like I work with) or a 33 year old. I can see this evident in my own life and in the lives of the young children I work with on a daily basis.

      Specifically in regards to a PLN, I am most likely to grow as an educator if the people I am connected to are individuals I respect and trust. And, I believe I am more likely to share and speak honestly when I feel a sense of respect/trust towards me from those I am interacting with. Having your PLN solely via technology would be hard for me...as I do like the face to face times of interacting with individuals (call me old fashioned :). However, I know many PLN's do make an effort to connect face to face from time to time. That would be my ultimate preference.

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  37. I was most impressed with page 82 in this chapter: 1)the five key components to measure trustworthiness. I think my building does a pretty good job with that. We are progressing in our attempts at re-accreditation this year and are on different teams for that so I'm hoping we can get through it all with very few problems. Usually we join together all for one and one for all to tackle tasks. And we're getting better at celebrating the good. It has been the snowball effect: one announcement leads to another, then another, etc.
    2) The Top Ten Trust Traits were very interesting to me. I feel there will always be room for improvement since "we're only human", but keeping a good attitude and putting forth 100% effort to me equals success. And it, too, is contagious. I try to accept all types of people of all ages, but tend to shy away from those who are very different from me since, like others in their comments have said, I don't like confrontation or arguments. I like to be with people who have common interests, beliefs, hobbies, etc. and build upon that. I do try to keep my personal life separate from work. I like to think it adds to the professionalism but at the same time students need to see me as a human being and find common ground, build rapport, etc. That is a difficult area for me.
    There was one thing about this chapter that bothers me: the references seemed quite old, some 10 years or more. In our field I think references should be no older that 5 years at most. So with that comment, I add to the "dissent" feature of this week's chapter.

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  38. I believe developing relationships is a huge key to success in the classroom as well as celebrating successes. I feel my school does a great job of this and I'm happy to be part of it. As a staff it's important to work together and celebrate each other. Everyone doesn't have to be best friends, but a mutual respect is nice.

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  39. I think forming relationships is one of the reasons I love what I do. I pity those who have jobs where they are at computers all day and maybe occasionally interact with co-workers. Many of us encounter over 100 students each day and have some sort of relationship with each one of them. Add parents and colleagues to the mix, and our job becomes primarily about relationships. I have found my relationships in the building very rewarding, but this chapter made me realize how much I am missing out by not having a relationship with a PLN. I do know that trusting people I cannot see has been an issue for me. I feel like people who can witness how I teach and live my life generally come to respect me, but those who know only the virtual me must rely only on my words. This makes me overanalyze everything I write!
    I do love the idea of creating a PLN using people I meet at conferences or making it a point to meet those people that I seem to connect with in a PLN. I do find relationships very rewarding and must take advantage of Twitter to initiate more of them.

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  40. I think that I struggle the most with "celebrate good times". It is so easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and forget or not have time to find a way to celebrate the good work being done. This is going to be one of my goals for this coming school year. Everyone likes to think what they are doing is being noticed and appreciated. Small gestures can go along way!

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    1. I think we all need to work on this - especially with our kids. They may not reach particular levels that we expect, but for some, any growth can be a turning point and we need to celebrate like mad!

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  41. Relationship building is key to the success of both the students and the faculty. However, I feel that it may be much easier to build those relationships in our classrooms rather than in our online communities. I believe that the face-to-face relationships are much easier to build. A large part in the relationship building process comes from the unspoken words, facial expressions, body language, even physical tough. Some of our students really need those aspects as much as the verbal communication. However, in our online communities, there is more importance placed on our words since those other aspects do not often come into play. Therefore, it is extremely important to have that trust and honesty with our networks. Sometimes it is even easier to be honest when you are not seeing the person face-to-face! In our PLNs I think that we are counting on our friends to be brutally honest so that we can learn and grow to be our best.

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    1. Jody, I agree with you. It is sometimes easier to build relationships face-to-face than in our online connections. Also, I agree it is important to be honest with those around you. I would rather someone be honest with me and let me know what I need to work on or if there is something I am not doing correctly, than to just sit back and watch me do it incorrectly.

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    2. And to let me know how to fix it so I can learn to be the best I can be for my colleagues and my students.

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  42. I feel that trust is one of the most important aspects in relationships. In regards to our PLNs it is easier to have with people that I have face to face contact. You can read their expressions and pick up a lot of what they are not really saying by their non verbal communication. With our online PLNs I think the trust is a lot harder, at least for me. The part in the book that talked about trust being hard when we first start out because we feel that our own tweets are not worth sharing and that we might not have a big enough PLN to actually learn anything was my exact thoughts when first reading this book and starting on Twitter. That is still a struggle for me. I follow people but haven't gotten into the posting of my own because I often feel as if someone else might think it is dumb or not worthwhile at all. I did like when they said that you have to just "put yourself out there". I'm going to try to do that more and grow more of an online PLN. I feel that I put myself out there a lot within our school and am always willing to help and listen, but it's harder for me to do online.

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  43. I really enjoyed reading about the 7 keys to creating and maintaining positive relationships. I am a 3rd year teacher and I have found that trying to juggle relationships between students, parents, coworkers and administrators can be incredibly daunting! While it’s easier to create these relationships with students because we see them every day, I am gaining confidence in building relationships with coworkers and parents. I definitely find it harder to create trust among an online group of people that I have never met face to face, it is also almost easier to share ideas because you’re hiding behind your computer!
    I found the concept of respectful dissent very interesting. This should be put into action with any and all relationships we have. Students are not going to take risks if they feel like they will be disrespected or made fun of in the process. The same goes with coworkers, once you feel like a mutual respect has been earned it becomes easier to share ideas, failures, and hopes.

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  44. I feel this chapter is one of the most important in the book. I love the relationships I have made in and out of my school. I am slowly but surely developing my PLN with the help of this blog, but more importantly, I love the relationships with my students. They love a teacher who truly listens and who they can trust. I feel we are more productive in class because they know that I understand. I also did not start teaching until I was in my late 30s and already had kids of my own. I find a relationship with student's families more important than any other relationship I can build. When trust is evident students are more productive in class and their parents and guardians are more receptive to phone calls and meetings to discuss their work, needs and futures. I work on these relationships daily. Thanks for this chapter.

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  45. This chapter made me think of the ladies I have met at the summer institute for all write. We get together for dimmers when they are in town and meet on the Internet throughout the year. I guess I am just not into Twitter as much as others and have not built a huge PLN there.

    This chapter made me think about the relationships I have with others at school and how to nurture them and be more genuine.

    It also made me think of how I connect with my students. I am hoping to send each one a note each trimester.

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    1. That's awesome about the ladies from All Write! There are a few of us who seem to meet at conferences/on Twitter regularly that are talking about doing the same thing. Whether you are building a PLN at conferences or on Twitter, at least you're building relationships!

      I LOVE the idea of sending 1 note a tri to each student. I am thinking about doing one of the Take 5 from a previous chapter about sending notes to teachers, but students could use the positive words too! AWESOME idea!

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  46. I really like that this chapter focuses on relationships! I feel like social media can be perceived as taking the relationships out of communicating with others, when in all reality it can really create even more relationships than ever imagined before! I believe trust is a key component in any relationship. I see the difference in how I communicate with others when I trust them and also see the difference it makes with the students in my classroom. As this chapter clearly stated "It is our people not our programs that will dictate our level of success." I believe building a positive relationship is extremely important and only makes you that much successful.

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  47. I believe that developing relationships is a big part of teaching. As educators we strive to develop relationships with our students, their parents, and our co-workers. These relationships make us better teachers. I value the relationships that I make in my building and in my district. I loved the quote, “Relationships are a vital importance in the lives of all educators; we are in, perhaps, the most people-oriented business of all, and, ultimately, it is our people not our programs that will dictate our level of success.” I never gave much thought about my relationships with my PLN until I started reading this book. I am learning that my PLN is a great way for me to learn, grow, and create relationships with other educators. There is a lot of trust that needs to happen interacting with your PLN. I think this book has helped my confidence in this area. I need to trust that people in my PLN want to hear from me and want me to succeed.

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  48. As an instructional coach, I miss terribly those building and classroom relationships that are such a huge part of what teachers do and are! But my new job is totally based on how well I can establish relationships with many diverse educators who are working every day to encourage and grow their students while attending to their own professional requirements. Technology is a big part of my job, though I try very hard to keep things as simple as possible and myself as in touch with as many of my teachers as I can with quick turn-around to their emails. I could absolutely NOT do my job if I could not plant, nurture, and develop relationships.

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  49. I would say that I struggle the most with trusting people and expecting the best. I tend to not like to rely on people very much because I don't trust that they'll do what they say they'll do, do it when they say they'll do it, or do it as well as I would do it. The third reason is probably my biggest issue. I am very detail oriented and worry that when I give responsibilities over to others, they won't pay as close attention to detail as I would, and therefore I will be disappointed with the results. There are definitely times I simply choose to complete a task myself rather than give it to someone else just because I am worried about how it will turn out if left in someone else's hands. This goes right along with expecting the best from people. I don't think I always tend to do that. I suppose it's different in situations where nothing I do depends on the other person doing their best or doing what I expect, but in situations where it does affect me, I tend to think that people won't be able to meet my expectations. I tend to automatically assume that I will be disappointed. It is very hard for me to turn responsibilities over to other people because I'm simply afraid it won't be done as well as I want it to be. (This can also make life at home very difficult when I need my husband to do something or when I hire someone to get something done.)

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    1. I understand what you are saying, I like to do things myself because if it gets messed up I just have myself to blame. Oh for the last 2 years the Algebra I teachers at my school meet to talk about the curriculum and the lessons and assignments for the week. We then divide up the work and then share it with each other. We then talk about what adjustments we want to make and change it. It is so nice to be able to work like! The geometry and Algebra II teachers do the same thing. One of my colleagues is great about surfing the net to find new stuff for us to try. It was hard for me to let go but wow has is lessened my workload.

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    2. Stephanie, I tended to be more of a perfectionist and like you when I was your age. I am able to "let go" a little better the older I get. It is something that I still struggle with occassionally, so I get where you're coming from.

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  50. I love that this chapter is focused around relationships, focusing in on PLN. I believe one of my biggest strengths inside, and outside of the classroom, is the ability to be personable and build positive relationships. With that being said, however, I believe the point of diversity is where I struggle the most in regards to my PLN. And I believe it is because of what the authors say: I migrate to those who believe and post about what I believe and am interested in. I even have to admit that when I first started a PLN, I would not follow elementary teachers back because I wasn't sure how they were going to help me as a high school English teacher grow. BOY, WAS I WRONG!!! This is still one of my goals, though: to diversify my PLN. In terms of what I believe is the most important aspect, I would have to say either expect the best or celebrate good times. One of my all time favorite things about Twitter is being able to publicly thank and recognize the AWESOMENESS that is my PLN. Celebrating and being positive is huge for me, especially in the education field because of how negative people can be. This chapter was great in terms of validating why I have a PLN as well as continuing to give me goals/ways to grow this upcoming school year.

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  51. I participated in the Connected Educators month one year and I really had to stretch myself to complete some of the tasks for the Virtual Merit Badges. It was during challenge that I first explored Twitter because it was one of the possibilities emphasized during that October. I did not enjoy getting out of my comfort zone while I was participating but at the end, I found that I had become familiar with some tech tools that I would not have explored on my own. I would encourage teachers to participate this coming October. It was really worth the time and I plan to try it again this year.

    I am also planning to take the on-line quiz about trustworthiness that was mentioned in the Take 5 section of this connector. Confession time: I love this type of quiz. I try every one that I come across. Thanks to BuzzFeed quizzes, I know which Disney Princess I most closely match and which superhero I would be. It’s sad: is there a twelve-step program for this?

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  52. I believe the key to all success is based in trusting relationships. Without trust we are not able to take risks and without risk there is no innovation. Trust also allows us to embrace failure to improve both personally and professionally. It comes very naturally to me to develop safe and trusting relationships with my students however not always with my collegues. After reading this chapter I see the importance of this in developing a solid PLN. I will put more energy in cultivating relationships wigth in my PLN.

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  53. I believe the key to all success is based in trusting relationships. Without trust we are not able to take risks and without risk there is no innovation. Trust also allows us to embrace failure to improve both personally and professionally. It comes very naturally to me to develop safe and trusting relationships with my students however not always with my collegues. After reading this chapter I see the importance of this in developing a solid PLN. I will put more energy in cultivating relationships wigth in my PLN.

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  54. It is all about trust and sometimes that is hard. I know I am going to have to leave my comfort zone and search out others and develop a solid PLN.

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  55. This chapter in particular was hard for me to read because of the struggles I've had in building relationships based on trust in my department. I completely agree that building relationships with students, colleagues, administrations, parents, and the community is extremely important and is probably one of my favorite aspects of teaching. In my current teaching position, I have developed very solid, trusting relationships with my students, parents for the most part, the administrators at my school, and some of the colleagues that I work with on a daily basis. However, because of some mistakes that I've made as well as some comments that were misinterpreted, I have really struggled with the area of relationships and trust in my department, which greatly saddens me. I even spoke with one teacher and apologized for a situation that I didn't handle very well my first year, but it really didn't make any difference.

    The main issue at my school is that it tends to be very cliquey, and once a group of teachers makes a determination about another teacher, it is hard to change that viewpoint/perspective, which seems unfair in my opinion. I am approaching this school year with mixed emotions. On one hand, I am so excited for the new year to begin and am looking forward to teaching new curriculum in the personalized learning program I am involved with as I enter my fourth year. But,....on the other hand, I am dreading the awkward and tense interactions with some of my colleagues because I really don't know how to change those relationships. I am hopeful that with time the situation will possibly change, but I also am not going to "kill" myself trying because I did that the previous school year and it was to no avail.

    I want to focus on building positive and trusting relationships with colleagues who are open to them, as well as building positive relationships with students, parents, and administrators. I also want to continue to grow my PLN and build trusting relationships with other educators outside my school. In this chapter, I highlighted several passages such as the five key components to measure trustworthiness, the "Top Ten Trust Traits" that great educators share in common, and connecting with people from all walks of life. I am utilizing Twitter more and more thanks to this book and the suggestions that the authors have provided. I feel much more comfortable with this social media resource and want to continue to grow and develop in this area as an educator; I think it's important for me to focus on the positive and stay away from the negative!

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    1. I agree…stay with the positive and continue to do what you know if best for your students. Good Luck!

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  56. Relationships provide opportunity for advancement in life. Developing a sense of integrity by following through on commitments is paramount to being successful with people. This is not only important with students but also to gain support from colleagues. I found the survey on trustworthiness both interesting and helpful in identifying strength and weakness. Interesting because is not how I saw myself prior to taking the survey. Helpful because after thinking about the results I was attuned to improving upon my weakness and promoting my strength. It was also motivational in promoting me to investigate further my potential for improvement.

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  57. I enjoy working with a team. I know that the team makes me stronger and the team is strong when we work together. I felt challenged when the author mentioned to not be afraid to share ideas or thoughts that go against the flow. With everything that is going on in education right now, I feel the teachers' voices have been silenced in many ways. Maybe it's time we speak up, but how do we do it in a way that leads to positive change?

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  58. Working together and building relationships is so important in a learning community. It is about celebrating the great things others do. It is not about "me". I feel the creation of these bonds of trustworthiness needs to be instilled in a community of teachers from higher up. I find more and more people competing or becoming upset when others achieve and it makes me sad. We are all in this together and doing it for one reason....our students.

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    1. Agree….it should be all about the children.

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  59. This was a GREAT chapter. Building relationships in so important. Building them with your students, is BIG, creating the environment where everyone feels sage and is willing to take risks and share their thinking. Building relationships with parents is another BIG step. I want the parents of my students to know we are in this together and that I am available to talk with them at any time about the child and his/her progress or concerns they may have. I want them to know that I need to be able to call and talk with them as well…not just to discuss issues that might come up about behavior and academic progress…but to celebrate their child as well. I try to call more often with good news than bad.

    Building relationships with our peers is so important too. I consider myself part of several teams. First the GKB Team (our corporation), then our JEO team (our building), next our second grade team, and finally my K-2 team, the Shining Stars. I feel lucky to be part of so many amazing teams with so many compassionate teachers.

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  60. I think trust is a huge issue with me. I immediately jump to those “what if?” questions and I know I need to let that go for sure.

    I really enjoy the idea of celebrating together as well as connecting your students to the world beyond. I’ve been interested in doing a pen pal program with a high school abroad but I am not sure how to go about doing it… does anyone have any suggestions??

    The last thing that really resonated with me in this chapter was the idea of valuing diversity and dissent. I really think that’s an important message to promote, especially with our students!!

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    1. We have done pen pals using the ePals platform for a few years and really liked it. Are you familiar with it?

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  61. I think trust is the hardest thing for me in relationships. People have to earn my trust first before I open up. I think that I need to work on trusting my students without making them prove themselves. You can’t really forge a strong relationship with your students if there is no trust. This chapter was really good for me. It got me thinking more about what I need to do to build a stronger relationship with my students. Trust is definitely something I need to work on!

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  62. My school is very isolated, unless you are a member of a team. This will be the first year that I am on a team and I'm very excited. This chapter reminded me how to form relationships with my students to create a better learning experience for them. And it reminded me that I have to earn their trust, as most of my students are very untrusting.

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  63. I am very willing to work with others. Work smarter, not harder! However, I want the others in my group to work hard as well! I am going to put forth more if I am sharing with others. For me, it's a healthy competition at times for striving to do better always. With my students I want them to trust me to teach, value and assist them. I want to be the structure some of them need to succeed.

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  64. While I love the colleagues I have in my own building, there are so many other people that can help me connect with my students. I am beginning to have a better appreciate of what a PLN and Twitter can do for me. Being approachable to my students is something that has to be refreshed and reinvigorated every year. Just because I had some great connections with some of last years' students doesn't mean I'll have as strong of connections with this year's students unless I work at it. This chapter helped me formulate some thoughts about how I can reach the kids who tend to not like English class as much.

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    1. Every group coming in is a new challenge. What worked last year to build those relationships, may be a total flop this year....it's that uncharted territory we must venture every year to put ourselves out there and find a way to connect to our students. I do think for us elementary teacher's it is easier because we have our students all day, for teachers in middle and high school this is more challenging.

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  65. Pardon my absence! We went back to school and my IT department has this site blocked! I had to work with them to get it opened back up and it is still giving me issues!

    I believe cultivating relationships in your classroom is an essential part of inspiring your students and ensuring their success. They won't trust you enough until they know you care about them. In addition to this it isn't the lessons they learn curriculum wise that stand out to them in future years. When they look back at the time they spent in your classroom they will remember how you made them feel, how you cared, and how you inspired them. You must have that relationship before anything else can fall into place.

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  66. I guess I didn't fully answer the question. Regarding my PLN, I guess my biggest struggle at first was trust. I would get a new follower and was clueless where they came from or why the followed me. It made me feel uneasy at first. Now I love getting new followers from all over!

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  67. Working together and building relationships is so important in a learning community. It is about celebrating the great things others do. It is not about "me". I feel the creation of these bonds of trustworthiness needs to be instilled in a community of teachers from higher up. I find more and more people competing or becoming upset when others achieve and it makes me sad. We are all in this together and doing it for one reason....our students. I feel like in the last few years that my staff has forgotten to "Celebrate the good times." This is really important!!! For example, if your students do really well on ISTEP, or IREAD, YOU NEED TO CELEBRATE!! This is celebrating all of the hard work that you have done over the entire year. I also like the personal touch section of this chapter. The personal touch that I like to give is shooting emails to parents on random days. I know that parents REALLY ENJOY getting positive emails about their child. So, I choose one day a week to send an email to a student of mine to tell his or her parents how well they are doing in class. I get a TON of praise for doing this, and it is something so small to do.

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  68. Hi, my name is Suzie Slocum, and I am a second grade teacher a Pierceton Elementary in Pierceton Indiana. We are apart of the Whitko School Corporation. We are doing a book study on "Ditch That Textbook" to revolutionize our classrooms.

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