There is an inherent buzz around the World Cup – a global community is actively following the results of 22 men kicking a ball around a field. Even in the United States where soccer isn’t a popular sport, fans jump on the proverbial bandwagon and get hyped for this large event.
I’ll admit it, I love futbol (soccer). And not because the World Cup is going on right now. In fact, I am watching a game with teams I don’t follow as I type this post. However, after just finishing up at InnEdCo (Innovative Education Colorado), I realized that there is a close similarity between education conferences and the World Cup in the U.S.
During the 3 years and 11 months between World Cups, I am following my team; what players are hurt, what players are getting starting time, when the team is playing, attending games if they by chance come to Colorado, etc.
The same thing applies to any education conference I go to. In the 360 days between conferences, I am following trends in education, reading blog posts, finding research, practicing new techniques, connecting with other teachers, and figuring out the best way to teach my students.
Education conferences tend to have the same effect as the World Cup. Educators come together from different districts, regions, and states to teach each other and learn from each other. After presenting or talking to other teachers at a conference, I see a smile on teachers’ faces that says, “I can’t believe how this will help my students”.
I see teachers connecting through backchannels and collaborative documents. There is great learning happening. There is great conversation happening. Teachers are reaching out to people they don’t know to share resources and ideas.
After the conference ends, the hype goes down, the conversations diminish, and the people left talking are the equivalent to US Soccer fans between World Cups. We are few, but strong. We carry on the conversation and try to keep up the hype all along hoping that more people will join us.
Chances are that if you are reading this, you are with me. You are some of the educators who keep the conversation going. But how can we keep the hype up between conferences? How can we continue the collaborative learning? How can we engage in the conversation with people that don’t know about the conversation?
The biggest thing is staying connected – and that doesn’t just mean digitally. Find other ways to meet up with colleagues and friends who challenge your thinking or who inspire your teaching.
The most important thing: invite someone to join the conversation personally. Sending a tweet to a user who only checks twitter during conferences won’t help. An email lacks personality. Some people don’t know that Google+ exists.
Your smile and your invitation can be contagious. Your passion is infectious. Help someone see that the conversation is still happening. Invite them in.
And for my fellow US Soccer fans, #IBelieve: