Side Conversations

Awaiting admittance into our virtual faculty meeting recently, our new reality, had me flashing back to our old faculty meetings, the kind that took place in person. We all used to gather around the purple and blue tables in our school library, the heart of our school. Snacks were laid out on a bookshelf and tired teachers waited in line for tortilla chips, cheese and crackers, and chocolate. There was always a healthy hum of conversation, teachers chatting in the snack line and teachers huddled around tables. There were conversations between teachers that don’t often see one another, teachers on the same team reflecting on the day, and teachers who share students swapping anecdotes and updates.

Now, when we enter our virtual faculty meetings, there is an awkward silence. Teachers sitting in their own spaces, behind their screens, no room for side conversations.

I was struck with similar thoughts of missing side conversations today, during The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s Annual Saturday Reunion. I always look forward to this event. I was probably looking forward to it even more today, in desperate need of a refill and inspiration to carry me forward.

I was missing the ride in. There have been times teachers from our school have piled into my principal’s car to make the hour long ride into New York for the reunion. The mixed lot of teachers and the conversations that took place on the way there and then the takeaways and reflections on the way home. Other years, I’ve driven in with my coaching friends. Uninterrupted time to be together, talk shop and grow dreams.

I missed the excitement of dedicated teachers filling Riverside Church for the keynote. Hugs between friends reconnecting, chatting with strangers sitting beside you, and the exchanging of plans for the day.

Today, my kids sat and listened to Marc Brackett’s keynote, their insights not quite the same as colleagues. But, I was grateful to have company.

Then, the texts started coming in. First from my principal, then fellow coaches, teachers, and former collegues. They were missing the side conversations too. We were finding new ways to connect, share, and reflect.

On my screen I even saw some of you, fellow Slicers! How I wished I could turn and chat, say hello…”I loved your post today.”

I also saw your Tweets, sharing morsels as if we were in the same room together.

We’re making due, finding ways to connect. But days like today, I miss the temptation and opportunities for side conversations.

11 thoughts on “Side Conversations

  1. I miss the in person too, but I actually enjoyed learning today with Miles on my lap. I was excited to recognize names of slicers as well.

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  2. Oh yes, I know this feeling. I miss it in the classroom, too – I never thought I’d miss having to shush students during learning time, but – oh! – how I wish they were having a few side conversations. Turns out, those are some of the things that matter.

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  3. Side conversations lay the groundwork for what follows. It allows participants to weave an informal net in which to catch the information that will be shared; to then weigh and toss up and redistribute that info to make meaning. Our understanding becomes so much stronger when we can process on our own, with and alongside others. Your post illustrates that so well, it’s no wonder we miss it so dearly. Connections flow over and through relationships; the ones we develop in car rides, snack lines and gathered around tables.

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  4. Love that line above me “side conversation lay the groundwork for what follows” — I think that’s like those hallway conversations in buildings! I’m glad you got to “go” and learn alongside your kids and you found your way to connect with colleagues. I feel that sadness for what is missing and what is missing, those human connections, is sooooo important — it will return — proud that everyone has not given up and the learning is continuing!

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  5. So true. It’s the side conversations in my class that are making me grateful for the full-in and giving me material. I did not go to virtual TC yesterday, so we’ll have to have a side conversation about what you learned.

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  6. This post makes me ache for those in-person side conversations. In this virtual world, the closest replacement is texting with colleagues and friends about the keynote. Not the same, but a way to connect in real time. Happy slicing.

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  7. I love this too. The talk in the margins and on the edges is so much of how we come together. Thanks for reminding me I missed it and thanks for helping me look forward to it coming back. Wish I would have seen you yesterday.

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  8. All of this! We’re finally starting to have some in person learning in my district, and it almost feels like finally getting a drink of water on a blistering hot day—I didn’t realize how thirsty I was for human interaction and chit chat until it has finally started slowly coming back.

    I loved being able to learn from home (and the car as I chauffeured kids) and also had a great text network going, but nothing is nearly as good as sitting in Riverside Church with energy buzzing around you!

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