The  school year starts with all my high schoolers on the floor building a  web to connect us all by a piece of yarn because I love this idea--that  we all can connect. And that we are in charge of the boundaries  and rules for those connections.  I recently got a chapter published in  a book called Pathways to Collaboration.  What is most  significant about this is how I came to write it--I was invited by a  former student of mine.  Austin is quite a remarkable guy--talented in  the arts, sciences...and in understanding people.  Son of an equally  talented woman, he grew up home schooled with Latin, dance, art,  theatre, science projects, history immersion... you name it, this kid  knows something about it.  When I had him in class, he taught me about  pushing kids who needed it.   He confided in me.  We planned lessons  together.  We talked about the trials of being a teenager.  He went off  to college and was, of course, a success!  When he asked me to  contribute, the honor was not lost.  He had seen my love for  collaborating--for connecting.  And albeit, not always perfect at it, my  hope is to embrace everyone for whatever it is they have to offer.

I  took a pride in what I wrote--because it was for him.  A former student  trusted me to be in a book he was publishing with his instructors--his collaborators.   It was humbling and simultaneously invigorating.  I reflected on my  career--all the people with whom I collaborated--who strengthened my  teaching, adults and kids alike;  the good and not-so-good experiences  that helped shape me now.

Only Connect.
--E.M. Forster

I  often wonder how overt we have to be about creating our social  circles.  Families who move are always rebuilding their nests.  People  transitioning between careers or positions have to create and build  their "tribe".  It makes me want to celebrate the resiliency and  adaptability of our human selves.  All of which lies under the umbrella  of trust.  We TRUST that we will find someone out there who likes what  we like, thinks similar thoughts, values shared ideals.

But sometimes that takes engineering.

Recently,  I went to see St. Vincent with my friend Drew.  (Under the advisement  of, Tallon, another former student.) We left our spouses at home and  went to dance and listen and enjoy.  We had a great dinner at a place I  had been previously with my friend, Julie.  We went to the venue, where I  ran into yet another former student, Jordan, and his  birthday-celebrating girlfriend, Bethany.  Drew and I chatted about the  other shows we'd like to see, the shows we had each seen at that  location, and stories of past and current friends drifted into and out  of our conversation the night through.  All that wasn't conscious,  though, quite the opposite, but making those connections was essential  to strengthening the one we had at that moment.  Simple.  Expected.

Reflecting  about these life-collaborations in an explicit way, pausing to value  them is something I'd like to more frequently afford myself--to take  stock of who I have, why I have them, and how I can learn from them.   And assess, too, if I am an asset or detriment to their development as a  human--am I giving to them?  How is my presence in their world  enriching their life?  Am I contributing?  And is it in a way that they  need or even want?