I have only been a connected educator for about ten months. In that time I have learned many valuable lessons about reflection, education, kids, and many other areas. One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is this: there are great people beyond the education world that we can learn with, and learn from when we connect.
I have talked about finding your “people” in building your PLN. One of my favorite people, one of the most interesting people I have ever met, and yes we met at EdCampNJ this November, is the one and only unicorn: Mr. Art LaFlamme. @artlaflamme
A while back I did a series of posts on connected educators that have influenced me this past year. I did not include Art then for various reasons, but I always wanted to make sure I shared a bit more about what he has meant to me. This week, Art LaFlamme hangs up his uniform and joins the rest of us as civilians. He is a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army. I can now say I have known two Lt. Colonels, the first was someone I already wrote about during teacher appreciation week last year, and a marine. Both have had a lasting impact on my life.
By developing a relationship with Art I have not only gained a friend, but also a unique perspective on so many of education’s issues. Art has spent a career developing plans and teaching them to others. He has made a habit out of mentoring others, finding his own mentors, and taking command of his own professional development. Do these things sound familiar? They should! We talk about them ALL THE TIME!
While not everything that the Army does pertains to education, there is so much we can learn by stepping outside of our own sphere. Art is a unicorn as we affectionately call him, because he is rare. He cares about education so much as a parent that he is getting involved, not just at the school level, but on a larger scale. Although he is not alone in doing this, he is most certainly rare. If you look closely, you might see him mythically pop up at Educon this weekend, and hopefully at EdCamp South Jersey in March. If you have the chance to meet him, take it. Art has a way of bringing out both the best (and the strangest) things about you. It is one of his many gifts and time spent talking with him will be time well spent!
Follow the unicorns. Step beyond educators on twitter and start connecting with people from all backgrounds. Watch out, you might just learn something!