Why Does Informal Connection Matter?

Author: Karen Copeland

I’m pulling out some thoughts I have written about informal connection in a previous post to highlight these more clearly. I wrote this after I attended my second #EdCamp35 this past April.

From: The Power of #EdCamp35, April 24, 2015

Image via Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

What happens when stakeholders begin connecting with each other when there is no investment other than an desire to learn? How do these informal opportunities like EdCamp offer a pathway to relationship development between parents, students and educators?

As parents at EdCamp, we are not put in a position where we have to advocate directly for our child, we can actually be ourselves without all the emotional baggage that comes along with advocacy. As Tammy Music pointed out in the student mental health session, “You are not seeing a parent at their best during meetings with the school. Ever.” We may be seen in a new light. As contributors, educators and thinkers, not just “that” parent. We are not singled out (ie. “parents, your session is over here”), instead we are included as equals, welcomed into the conversation.

We also then have the opportunity to connect with educators who are not trying to negotiate and manage policies and procedures or other factors to support our children. They are not having to respond to our requests or problem solve challenges that may arise.

We get to know one another as whole human beings, not just limit ourselves to what we see in the school environment. The power differential is almost balanced. We definitely learn from the sessions we attend throughout the day, but more importantly we learn about each other.

How does this influence our perceptions of each other? How does this potentially change how we view each other when a difficult or challenging situation arises? Can we draw from these informal interactions and recall the vulnerability we have shared with each other and look at future challenges or successes from a different perspective?

I would suggest yes. In fact, I would even go so far as to recommend the following:

Informal Connections (download pdf)

If you are an educator, service provider or other professional, and you are wondering how you can connect with parents in your practice, seek out these opportunities for informal connections and conversations where there are no pre-determined expectations that can put up walls. Be curious in those moments.

If you are a parent, I recommend doing the same. When we start to know people and understand them for who they are, not their role, our perspectives start to change.

Setting aside our assumptions, being curious, recognizing that we all have strengths – how do we discover these and honour them in our relationships with each other?

Are you an educator? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Does the opportunity to connect informally with parents shift your perception of parents in your broader school community?

If you are a parent, have you sought out these informal connections? Did this influence how you perceived the professional going forward?

For more information about EdCamp35, please visit http://www.edcamp35.com/

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