June is a terrifically busy month for educators. It’s about getting everything done in the final weeks of school, ramping up summer semester courses, or figuring out how to relax if school is just wrapping up. Educators are reflecting and reflective at this time of year. It’s a good time to be kind to yourselves if you are teaching, leading or learning. Take time to talk to others. Listen to your own voice – not just the words you say, but the undertones and emotions behind the words. Listen to the voices of others – not just with your ears but with your eyes and heart. Find space to talk and truly listen.
I’m blessed with a PLN (personal listening network) – friends, colleagues, collaborators and co-conspirators – who talk about their work in teaching and their personal learning journeys. They listen kindly and reflect my words back to me, both spoken and written. It’s important, particularly at this busy time of year to talk and listen.
Fireside conversation is the best. It’s a chance to unwind, take time together and really relax, refresh and reenergize. For me, this is a chance to talk about past events, celebrate with others, or to look forward and dream of future potential. With my dearest network of friends (my Mag8), I am able to talk openly and honestly about what I’ve been doing, trying, where I’ve failed and how I’ve succeeded. It’s reciprocal listening. It’s a shared and personal conversation.
Virtually Connecting (VC) conversations are energizing. These collaborators in digital spaces make me think deeply about my teaching and learning habits. Ideas and insights rock me out of the status quo rut and send me spinning into new areas of inquiry. VC people talk about important issues in education and listen to my words without judgment. Talking and listening is not always easy when VC conversations flow, but these voices move me to action. That’s a good thing when June lethargy takes hold. June conversations with VC (T3-Transforming Teaching through Technology Conference and #dhsi2016- Digital Humanities Summer Institute) hold promise for ongoing conversations. As I prepare to head to the New Media Consortium Summer Conference (NMC) as a VC on-site buddy and NMC social media correspondent, to engage in face to face and virtual conversations, I am energized and excited to listen to others. There will be voices to inspire and encourage me to speak about issues that are important in education.
Twitter chats are a challenge at the best of times, but in June they are particularly difficult. In June, educator’s minds tend to wander, ideas become scattered and conversations quickly disconnect from where they began. That’s the nature of educational thinking in June. With multiple and conflicting activities and events on the schedule, planning a Twitter chat in June can be impossible. Incredibly, two chats on one night had me talking and listening to distinctly different groups with unique voices in the #5414SoMe and #ONedchat conversations. I thank them both for raising their voices out of the June swirl of chatter. The words flowed and people listened to each other on topics of interest. Two hours just didn’t seem enough, but going back over these chats allows me to see additional shades and colours to the words written.
I’m not always good at taking time to listen to my own voice. This June is no different. Consciously and intentionally taking time to talk to myself and listen to the inner voice that emerges from silence is not easy at the best of times, but in June it’s nearly impossible. But it’s important! So I gently craft spaces and times where the sun, wind, rain, grass, garden or deck allow my inner voice to be heard. It’s sometimes a shout but mostly it’s a quiet thought that breathes new insight into an issue or idea. I just have to listen carefully and be open to hearing the words. Some recent garden renovations allowed me lots of moments, between shovels of soil and compost, to hear some interesting things from that inner voice.
One June wish for those in my PLN (listening network) is to talk lots, listen deeply and hear the gentle whispers from within. Don’t take these June words for granted. Listen deeply and honour the emotions that shine beneath. Talk to trusted listeners so you can make it through these June days with patience and kindness. Take time to talk and listen to each other. Your PLN is listening. Your students and our children deserve our best during these busy days of June. Talking and listening can make a difference!
Happy June! Listen to all the sounds that abound around you. Talk as if every word will make a difference to your world.