Last night I joined a friend for drinks. She was in the area for the SEDTA conference. Although I had met another friend for brunch last year when she was here for the same conference, I really had no idea what this conference is. For those equally uninitiated, it is the State Educational Technology Directors Association. If you are interested, you can learn a lot more about the group on the website because that's the extent of my knowledge at the moment.
Anyway, we met for drinks and it was delightful to see her. The evening began with just the two of us chatting in the lobby bar but gradually more and more folks joined us. These folks seemed to know each other, if not in person, at least from conference calls and such. I, of course, knew no one other than my friend.
At one point it became clear that some folks were trying to figure out my place in this. They didn't recognize me and they could tell from conversations that my friend and I have a connection. I explained that I'm a local who just joined them for the evening to see her. When asked what I do, I said that I teach first grade.
Their reactions were fascinating. I felt like an orangutan in the wild discovered by scientists who have studied orangutans for years but never seen one. Telling my occupation has never resulted in such amazement.
My immediate thought was that these folks should make more of an effort to talk to teachers. Of course, I couldn't have felt better than to hear my friend say, "Yes, we should have more teachers at these things."
She, like many others there, has never been a K-12 teacher. But she knows teachers because she makes an effort to be connected with them in a wide variety of ways. We need more policy makers who do that.