I just returned from the Oppi festival of learning in Helsinki; a weekend of thought provoking talks, challenging discussions, and great learning. Such events are valuable in themselves, but their value continues not just by what you learn by attending, but also the conversations you start. Above is the collection of cards I collected from people with whom I had interesting discussions that we both wanted to continue.
Some of the most interesting conversations I had at the festival were with teachers, yet many of those conversations will likely not get continued for the simple reason that most of the teachers at the festival didn’t have a quick and easy way of sharing their contact details. In these days of twitter backchannels and other social networks people are much easier to find than they once were, but still these simple cards act as a reminder and a signal of an intention that a conversation has started and not finished.
On the face of it this is a simple practical point (teachers- get some printed before your next conference!), but on reflection it is symptomatic of a deeper lack of value placed on the deliberate forging of connections and sustaining of professional conversations for teachers.
When I was working as a class teacher CPD events felt very much like a one off event, something that delivered what was needed (or occasionally failed to) on the day. These days such events are much more of a start, a place to begin conversations that will lead to future change and development.
Whilst I learned a lot from the talks and the ideas shared in Finlandia Hall at Oppi, it is the connections and conversations which started there which will likely be the most valuable part. Without the simple business card many of these opportunities would be lost. It’s time, I think, to place more value on teaching as a connected profession.