The Power of an Invitation

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There is such great power in an invitation.

A while back, someone invited me in to help support a new chat that was starting up. I had spent time in a few chats, but although I knew it felt like I was learning a great deal, I sure didn’t think anything special was coming out of my engaging online that would make someone notice let alone recognize and invite me into a new chat. But someone saw something in me and asked me to be part of something new.

As a result, I’ll never be the same. And not just as an educator.

I think we underestimate our power as educators, as people to speak powerfully into another person. At least I do at times. And on the one hand, it feels like nothing, right? An invitation to join in seems so insignificant that I forget the power that we have to speak hope into situations, to speak life into those we are in contact with until I’m on the receiving end of the conversation. But I can think of several times when something that probably seemed like nothing to the speaker left significant, positive, life-giving impact on me, and I know that I need to stop erring on the side of caution, of reluctance to step out into a bit of vulnerability, and make this a significant part of my regular routine.

But I don’t want to just leave it at that. Acknowledging that invitations are powerful and that change is needed isn’t enough. I need to make a habit of including this communication, and I’d like to share a few ways I think we can make a positive impact with a simple invitation.

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Invite someone to critique something you are working on

It’s not always fun to have a critical eye on your work, but asking someone to look over your shoulder to help you refine something that’s important to you is a big deal. To me, it’s a great honor to help someone accomplish a goal that has personal or professional important, and so often as educators our work has both components.

Ask someone to share their voice and expertise in conversation

I host a weekly Twitter chat with my friend and colleague Jeremy Stewart, so this is an easy place, but it’s still one I’ve neglected. I need to be better about thinking through the topics we are discussing and intentionally engaging those who have so much to offer in that conversation. Understandably, most people aren’t hosting chats, but I think there’s an easy face to face parallel; as conversations come up on campus, bring those informed voices into the conversation and take a moment to explain why you brought that person in before or after. It’ll make a difference.

If you blog, invite someone to write with you or to guest post on your blog

Most educators who are blogging are doing so to share the ideas they’ve been mulling over or sort through their learning. I’ve been awful at doing this, so I’m sharing it not only as an idea for others, but also as a call to action for myself. What a great opportunity to share that space and encourage another educator to connect and share!

Here’s our reality: We cannot do our work in isolation. We fool ourselves into thinking we can from time to time, but each time, after we’ve hit the wall (again), we remember that we need others. Take time to get ahead of the curve and invite others into something that matters to you.

5 thoughts on “The Power of an Invitation

  1. Bill Ferriter Reply

    Hey Pal,

    I love this idea and definitely see the value in the lives of the adults in our buildings and in our learning networks.

    As a sixth grade teacher, though, what I’m really excited about is trying to work invitation into the work that I do with students. Imagine how much more powerful an invitation from a teacher to a student will be — particularly if it comes from a teacher that a student looks up to.

    So here’s your challenge: Write a second post with suggestions about how teachers can invite students to do important work, too.

    Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

    Rock on,
    Bill

    • Tara Reply

      I’m a sixth grade teacher as well and I couldn’t agree more! The seed has been planted… Will think about it all summer but it would be awesome to hear some ideas!

  2. Mandy Taylor Reply

    Thanks so much for this blog post! I work with the Central Texas Writing Project, and one of our teachers did demo lesson for us this week, modeling how she teaches protest poetry to her high school students. During one part of the lesson, she said, “I’m going to invite you to try this in your writing today.”

    I was so struck by how this simple, yet intentional use of language made me want to go to the party. Instead of telling us we HAD to, or even asking us to try, she INVITED us to go on this writing journey with her. I was made aware of how we feel when we’re not invited: to a party, to a happy hour, to a social event, and how at the core of most humans, we want to be invited. It means we are valued, we are noticed, we matter.

    Thank you for inviting us on this journey with you. What a gift.

  3. Teresa Reply

    Great post! It is so important to remember how unique and special we all are, that we each have something to contribute to the field of education. I learn so much from others and am thankful for my PLN’s willingness to challenge my thinking, share their amazing ideas and teach me something new every day.

  4. Pingback: 4 Invitations for Students - Leading, Learning, Questioning

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