Ever hang out with people who dream up things that make your head spin? While lots of people come up with over-the-top ideas, it’s rare that these come to fruition with powerful lasting impacts. I was fortunate enough to have been a part of a listening circle to see this one unfold. Imagine the months of work in fine tuning the idea to match the goals, engaging in heartfelt conversations and inviting participation at many levels. Finally the day arrives and something unexpected happens. Social media takes over and amplifies the story in such a way that the world notices.
Inspired by Canadian heroes Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip, Sheila Gourlay (Parkcrest Elementary, Burnaby, BC) and Carlene Montgomery (Chaffey-Burke Elementary, Burnaby, BC) launched a project that encompassed 3 goals: honour Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip, raise money for cancer research and celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Two schools, 700+ students, one song (Ahead By A Century) and hours of rehearsals, their voices unite across cyberspace. This one video (below and on the sidebar) says it all. You can also find their story on A Kids’ Guide to Canada celebrating Canada 150.
What did the students learn? “Even though they’re young, they can aim towards something bigger than themselves and make a difference.”
The story doesn’t end here. Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip have just been named to the Order of Canada.
We just finished a districtwide Pro-D, where for the first time we squeezed 2000 people into one building. So parking was quite hairy and the deluge of rain didn’t help matters. Once inside, the atmosphere was positively electrifying (thanks to the facilitators and participants). Our opening started with North’s own marching Viking band, keynote Abe Fernández (Director of Collective Impact, the Children’s Aid Society and Co-director of South Bronx Rising Together) and then hundreds of workshops and ‘edcamp-ish’ conversations to choose. My team of three led four sessions – a crazy rewarding day of connected energy.
Here are some things I learned:
- Building community and togetherness is everything even though the only building that can handle the numbers is a very old one! Crossed our fingers as fuses blew…
- New experiences have to be connected to what you understand and then move from there
- Individuals make personal conscious decisions to learn new things. What is ultimately worth learning is usually difficult and messy. It takes courage to make the leap.
- Sometimes people will try something only because they know you will support them
- When you see something with a new lens, you can never go back
Pro-D, while meant as a learning experience, is really an event. How will you carry these sparks and these challenges to thinking into your classrooms or offices? That’s where the magic happens.
It was a month of celebrations, of learning journeys that finished but really only just begun. Our ImagineerTech, pilot ePortfolio and Partners in Inquiry groups gathered for celebrations of caring and sharing. There were shared “aha moments” in implementing an inquiry process and watching it unfold with students. But it was the reflective process that connected all the pieces of the puzzle into a living story. Sometimes I think this process is like a conductor that listens intently to all the nuances of the orchestra and draws or softens all the parts so they coordinate both as a whole and as individuals. Assessment in this arena is not “wait until the end applause” but a constant negotiation of the movements of the present. The one thing that one can rely upon is that constant adjustment is a given.
These are their comments captured via “low tech” and gifted to you.
A new year offers a flurry of activities. Like a book, the pages begin anew ready for anything you place upon it. For those of you who have a New Year’s resolution, plans go into full swing to make it happen. You might broadcast it to your family or quietly commit to take those first steps. Or you may be one of those who throw it all out and consider it just another day. No matter what, the new year does offer an opportunity to reflect and consider a new path.
There has been a movement on Twitter away from full out declarations towards a single word or two (#oneword). A single word to capture the essence for the year; something I think is less daunting than a declared resolution. (I don’t know about you but I’ve broken more resolutions than I can count.) Here are some of the most recent from my PLN: #empower, #intentional, #joy, #appreciate, #less, #change, #facilitate, #focus, #relationship, #trust, #courage, #wonder… I love all of these. Landing on one has been challenging indeed. In 2012 I used #celebrate (see post). This year I decided on #inspire – to inspire and be inspired. I’m excited about what the pages of 2015 will reveal in ways that one can only imagine. I’m also looking forward to the collaborative conversations (both face-to-face and online), which will no doubt spark those dreams to lift off the pages.
Come join me in this journey – what is your “one word”? I’d love to hear from you.