Connections are Essential

If I could only choose one take-away from #BLC14, it would be this…

This is Cecil Intermediate School, my school home 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh PA.  We lead 400 students in grades 5 and 6. CecilIntermediateSchoolCecil

This is my Twitter page, @susie.lavallee. 115 followers. 449 Tweets. ipod teacher twitter.58.33 PM

This is Van Meter, Iowa.  Home of 650 total students in grades K-12. vanmeter_ia

This is the Van Meter Community School District librarian, Shannon Miller,  @shannonmmiller.

This is her Twitter page. 34,000 followers.  67,000 Tweets. Shannon Twitter

At the recent Building Learning Communities conference in Boston, I attended Shannon’s session on how a Makerspace can give kids a voice.

This is me tweeting her a message and sharing a picture of my cuties at the Make Shop at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. pgh kids cuties

This is her favoriting my tweet and replying.

pgh reply

This is how I felt about that connection.


Twitter is digital. Twitter is limited to 140 characters. Twitter appears impersonal. But Twitter is fundamentally human.

What you don’t see is my administrator and I talking with Shannon later that evening where she told me that she thought she and my husband would be good friends as they both like to create things, even if it gets messy.  What you don’t see is her hugging me and taking a picture of my wrist while wearing a bracelet that was made by one of her students. What you don’t see is, perhaps, the smile on her student’s face when she tells him/her that I live far away and am still wearing it.

Connections make us feel good. Connections move us to do more. Connections inspire us to keep trying.

This is Brian Mull, @brianjmull.

Brian Twitter

His New Orleans school building was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. On the 1st day of evacuation, he created a blog to help his displaced school community. This was 2005. He hadn’t been taught how to create a blog. Administrators had never been taught how to comment. On the very first day of turmoil, he had 150 comments. For four months, his school administrators planned their triumphant return to their hometown via Skype. Unfortunately, Brian’s position was considered non essential in the rebuilding process. They had to let him go. He went on to work as a speaker and consultant with November Learning for seven years. Now, he has come full circle. He returned to his school this spring as the Innovation and Learning Design Coordinator.

This is me, using Twitter to confirm plans to run with the BLC14 Runners Club via Twitter, prior to attending.

run shot twitter

What you don’t see is me, running through Boston Garden with the Runners Club on a route created by Brian Mull.  What you don’t see is my administrator and I sitting down with Brian to discuss our districts needs and future.  What you don’t see is how his expertise and experience will affect the students of Canon McMillan School District.

Some critics will argue that digital connections are less human than traditional connections.  

They don’t have to be.

There are no assessments that can measure the value of being connected.

But you cannot dispute that connections are vital in the teaching and learning process.

This post is also dedicated to

@jcoughlin24, @math8lpcsd, @KleinErin, @kathycassidy, @AlyciaZimmerman, @GraceLani1

 and many others that I met at #BLC14,

all of whom use technology to enhance human relationships.


  1. Amy Barbarino says:

    Great post! You are so right. Far or near, it’s the connections that matter. I am so looking forward to getting together this week. (I can’t believe I missed this by the way. I mean, Shannon Miller! C’mon. She is such an inspiration.)

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience. Some Native American tribes believe if someone gives you something you should give more in return. I think that applies to what takes place at BLC. People receive ideas, concepts and the make friends. Often they give something back as you did with this post.rnrnThe true value of any conference should be measured not only by what you learn but also by the connections you make. At an earlier BLC, I made connections with schools in Northern Ireland. Those educators became friends and lead to several projects and a visit to some of their schools. I shared those experience at BLC.rnrnYour post about your connections and your learning my help others to reach out to you.

  3. Thanks for the comments! Professional communication and collaboration online is a super important skill for future learners and citizens. We need to lead by example. rnrn@Jim, thank you for sharing your experience. I think there is a great depth to learning from educators around the globe. Perhaps we will work together in the future also!rn@Amy, see you tomorrow!