We opened our schools today. As the Assistant Superintendent of SAU 16 located in Exeter NH, I was part of the administrative team that welcomed nearly 6,000 students back to our 11 schools. Part of my job requires me to work most closely with two of our elementary schools, Swasey Central School with 400 students and East Kingston Elementary School with 200. As such, I visit those schools weekly and even do a little teaching every once in a while. For example, last spring, I went to Swasey to teach fourth and fifth grade students how to use handheld GPS units to find specific waypoints and we even hid a geocache on some public property nearby.
Today as I visited classrooms, one fifth grade student said, “Hi Mr. Baldasaro! Do you remember me?” Unfortunately, I didn’t. Some folks may have been able to, but I couldn’t. He then said, “We geocached last year!” “Oh yeah,” I said, still having no idea. Thankfully, he was pulled away by his friend and he didn’t continue to quiz me. I didn’t think much of it after…
Until I got in the car and started my 15 minute ride to the next school when I thought, “I wish I could have remembered that kid’s name, he remembered mine.” But it was unreasonable for him to expect me to remember my name. Right?
Unreasonable by who’s standards, mine or his? Certainly, as an adult, I wouldn’t expect someone who I met for 45 minutes several months ago in a class full of 20 of peers to remember me. But in the ego-centric world of a 9 or 10 year old, I am expected to remember. He had made a connection with me and he expected it to be reciprocated.
Which raises these questions in my mind:
As students make an effort to make connections online, will they expect their efforts to be reciprocated? Are we (educational leaders) going to be the ones who make those connections or will we leave that to others? I failed to reciprocate that student’s connection in school today, will I also fail to reciprocate his virtual connection too?