Andrea Stringer recently wrote a post about the people who inspire you. Rather than write a list of names, which is often the way with such movements as #FollowFriday, Stringer summarises the characteristics of those who inspired her and who she aspires to be:
- Successful without sacrificing integrity
- Place people before profit
- Generous with their time
- Build relationships & connections (established & new)
- Listen to understand, not to respond.
- It’s not always about what you can do for them.
- Genuine & Authentic. How they act in public is who they are.
Stringer’s post and list had me thinking about two things. Firstly, how I myself stacked up against those characteristics? How successful have I been? At what? Am I still generous? As my family has grown this has become a challenge. Being less active on social media and more focused on comments and my commonplace book, I would like to think I listen to understand, but I am never quite sure.
The second wonder was what it means to be connected today? I have long been an advocate of being a connected educator, however I am not sure what happened? In recent times it feels like things have changed. Maybe it is me? Leaving the classroom to work in an administrative role three years has changed my position? Or maybe it is just connected education in general? Maybe the focus around online communities of practice has changed? Maybe the platforms have changed? Maybe people have changed? Maybe people move beyond paywalls and closed spaces? All in all, it just felt like an itch I could not scratch.
Dai Barnes’ sudden passing brought this all to the fore again. I did not know Dai in person, our connection was online, yet he felt like an integral part of my personalised learning network. In particular, he came into my world through the TIDE Podcast. I listened to each and every episode. I was always left thinking, reflecting and wondering. The perspective that Doug Belsaw and Dai brought together always felt novel and refreshing. I once reflected that each episode was like going to the pub for a quiet Sunday session only to be surprised:
I think that TIDE is akin to turning up to a shabby pub on a Sunday afternoon, thinking that you are just going to have a causal conversation about this and that, only to discover a session of drinking craft beer. The session seems to drag on into the night and somehow evolves into finishing things off with a glass of top-shelf single-malt whiskey.
The particular memory that will stay with me is of Dai recounting a job interview for a deputy head position in Episode 117. A part of the process involved modelling a lesson. For this he looked at creating a social credit system in school. In a conversation towards the end of the lesson, one student touched on the problem where a student may have built up so much credit at the end of year that they could do anything. Dai recounted how he continued this conversation, suggesting that you could even jump on the table. The next minute he found himself caught in the moment and subsequently “jumping on the table like Jesus.” Needless to say, he did not get that job.
What I liked about Dai was his seemingly carefree attitude and openness. He would say it as he saw it even if it ran counter to sentiment. He was not wedded to any ideas and technology in particular. Thinking about various problems, I would often wonder what would Doug and Dai say?
If TIDE was a Sunday session that seemed to drag on without realising it. For me Dai’s sudden passing was like having a moment where one of the party vomits and you just don’t feel like drinking anymore. I will miss Dai dulcet tones and his unique perspective. As Tim Klapdor suggested:
Dai made a dent in the universe, its shaped just like his bare foot.
This has reminded me that being a connected does matter, but that I have probably need to thank those people in my community that I have come to take for granted. If there is anything to come out of this it is to tell those around you why they matter.
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