How Edcamp Is Like A Flash Mob

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(flickr: artberri)

I am currently working on planning Red Deer’s first edcamp, dubbed REdcamp13 (pretty cool play on words thanks to @EbertsR and since I love flash mobs, I was struck by the similarities.  I have to admit that I have never been to an edcamp but am so impressed with #edcamp talk on Twitter that I was inspired to help bring one to my city.   Here, in my humble opinion, is how edcamp is like a flash mob.  Feel free to agree or disagree, particularly if you have edcamp experience!  🙂

How Edcamp is like a Flash Mob:

1.  Flashmobs, like edcamps start with one or two people, moving to a beat, dancing to what appears to be their own drummer…at first.  The moves soon catch on and others are joining in the fun.  Edcamp, a relatively new concept in professional development for educators where the participants guide the learning, is gaining momentum.  My REdcamp13 colleagues and I know that the edcamp idea is little known or understood around these parts but we intend to shake it, boogie, learn some new moves and have fun in hopes that it will catch on with our fellow Albertans (Saskatchewanites? British Columbians?) who dare to come to our first edcamp in May, 2013.

2.  Flashmobs, like edcamps start with a little preparation by a core group of interested individuals who have a desire to share their passion (a song, a dance, a happy feeling) with the world and then amazing, spontaneous things happen.  One of the original flashmobs in a train station in Belgium which was choreographed to the Sound of Music’s Do-Re-Mi held only two practice sessions before taking it live.  The result was inspiring.  Edcamp Philly started very small, as described by Kristen Swanson HERE and the concept has spread all over North America and even Europe.

3.  Flashmobs, like edcamps, are done because people WANT to.  They are not driven by money or celebrity.  People do flash mobs, like Mila Kunis’ character says in the film Friends with Benefits, because it’s fun!  Educators do edcamps because…well, maybe those who have attended edcamps in the past can comment on why they attend edcamps??  I’m sure fun has something to do with it but I’m guessing the deep learning and meaningful conversations that encourage professional growth also are driving factors.

In Drive, Daniel Pink writes about the importance of autonomy as a factor in what motivates people.  He says that people want autonomy over task, time, team and technique.  Edcamps provide learners with plenty of autonomy over what you learn, when you learn it, with whom you are learning and how you are learning.  If this is something that also motivates you, perhaps you should attend REdcamp13 in Red Deer, Alberta on May 11, 2013.   We would LOVE to have you!  And who knows, maybe we’ll break into a flashmob at lunchtime!  😉

(couldn’t resist adding in just one more flash mob – Bazinga!)

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The Burnt Cookie: letting go of mistakes

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A new year always gives one pause to reflect on how the past year rolled out and time to consider how things will unfold in the next twelve months.  Over the Christmas break, my kids and I were invited over to a friend and colleague’s house to skate on their home-made backyard hockey rink.  My friend’s son is the same age as my middle son and her daughter is a student at the school where I am vice-principal.  The kids had a great time skating and playing outside and then it was time to come in and have a snack.  My friend’s daughter, I’ll call her Sophie (not her real name) decided to warm up her chocolate chip cookie in the microwave.  Beep, beep, beep went the microwave as we all continued talking and snacking.  Sophie opened the microwave to a billow of smoke and a completely burnt cookie.  Any other 12-year old might have become upset or have been completely mortified at her 1-minute mistake.  Though I later heard from her mom that she said, “I can’t believe I burnt a cookie in front of my vice-principal!”, in the midst of billowing smoke Sophie laughed, waved the smoke with her arms, ran to the door to open it, and continued to giggle at her mistake.  I was so impressed with her grace and composure.

As I think about how my year as a vice-principal in a busy middle school went last year, I know there were lots of great things that happened and that I was a part of and there were also a few burnt cookies.  I am the type of person who, if I allow myself to, will ruminate over and worry about my mistakes and wonder what people are thinking about what I did. I need to learn how to be more like Sophie and laugh at myself, learn from my mistakes and move on.  I have heard lots of great things about Carol Dweck’s Mindset and have put it on my reading list for this year.  I hope I can use my burnt cookies to create a growth mindset as I work on improving my skills as a school administrator.

With that being said, here is a list of what I hope to work on this year…resolutions so to speak.  Some professional, some personal.

Resolutions:

  1. Be out of the office a LOT more and in classrooms working with kids and teachers.  I think this is the number one way I can improve as an administrator and know what is going on in the school.  It also goes along with relationship building which is essential to my role.
  2. Prioritize better – this includes getting better at using my i-phone calendar.  The alert function is fantastic and essential for me.
  3. Thank people more – this means making an effort to notice and acknowledge people.  I know I appreciate when people notice what I am doing well.
  4. Listen more – this is part of my admin growth plan where I want to improve my communication skills.  In an effort to connect with what someone is saying I know that I sometimes I talk too much about my personal experience and stop listening.
  5. Focus on family – with Masters coursework now complete I should be spending more time playing with my kids, not thinking about school and work.
  6. Focus on health – I have signed up for 2 half-marathons, a 12 km and the Mud Hero (a run combined with obstacles and mud…crazy right?)  I now need to align my diet with my running goals.
  7. Care more about the world – I have a keen interest in social justice and follow the news but feel that I am often just an observer.  I would like to volunteer more, give more and strange as this sounds, donate blood.  I have never done that.

Finally, I resolve to go easy on myself when things do not go well.  I plan to take Sophie’s burnt cookie with me throughout the year (figuratively, of course!) and remember what she taught me about grace, the ability to laugh at oneself and how to let go of mistakes and move on.