Last week I joined my students in an attempt to remain screen free with the exception of work-related computer use. For the first 24 hours, it felt great to be disconnected -- like I had one less responsibility during the day. However, by Wednesday (day 3) it was feeling strange and after a colleague started a conversation about Twitter during morning recess I began to slide back into Twittering from time to time.
Staying away from the computer the rest of the week was a challenge and I would hop online for 15 minutes here or there, but I tried to remain committed to my promise to my students. It wasn't until the weekend when I sat down to peruse the 175 or so posts on my Reader that I realized what I was missing, connection.
In the past, I've held the opinion that connections, maybe relationships is a better word, could not be developed online. I felt they had to be developed in person first, then they could be maintained online. My participation in screen free week changed that opinion.
When I finally opened up my Reader it was like walking into a room full of great conversations that I had been missing out on, like I had shown up to the party late. As I read through the posts from the week, it was as if I could hear the authors' voices in my head. The voices of Will, Karl, Mary Lee and Franki, Kevin, Cole, and many others (too many to link) who fill my Reader with great thinking each week. I will probably never meet these folks face to face, but they have become a part of my professional community that challenges my thinking and helps me to see the great potential that exists within the walls of my classroom everyday.
[As I side note, it is interesting how connected one can be these days. I am writing this post from my in-laws' cabin in the northwoods of Michigan where even here there is wireless...]