“Teachers in every province are sharing the same stories and struggles. Over the three days, through our formal and informal conversations the similarities and interest in networking were common threads. With so much common ground, culturally and practically, those of us who are connected leaders have an opportunity to grow a wider and richer national network of educators. A national PLN focused on the sharing of best practices that can support all of our Canadian teachers, schools and students.” Brian Harrison
I’m feeling totally inspired.
After months of planning, Connected Canada has come and gone, yet it was probably one of the most amazing personal and professional experiences that I have ever had. I am sure that personally the impact was not the same for most, but being one of the people who helped organize the conference (along with the amazing Erin Couillard and Neil Stephenson), it was amazing to see what came out of the few days. To be honest, I was playing the role of host most of the time, so I was not able to get really in depth to some of the learning that was happening, but it was the collegiality that blew me away from educators across the country. They supported one another, and although many of us are at different stages in our careers, that did not stop a conversation or people genuinely helping one another. Although it was obvious that many provinces and areas were not represented, it was a start to something that hopefully will only continue to grow.
As I sit back and reflect on the successes of the weekend, I feel like our work is not completed, but it has only begun. As I called out conference participants at the beginning of the three days that they need to keep the conversation going, I feel that I need to do my best to help facilitate those conversations and help create what John Seely Brown would refer to as a “spike” where we can all connect to get better at our profession. The passion that was so abundant over the last few days from so many participants, has given me another boost to really do my part to help kids all over this country and the world. But is continuing the conversation and really connecting with educators across the country something that is realistic? I am reminded of the Will Smith quote (yeah, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air) on being realistic:
“Being realistic is the most common path to mediocrity.”Will Smith
In the same video, Will Smith tells a story about his dad ripping down a brick wall and then having him and his brother rebuild it. With all the hard work, he came to realize that if you focused solely on the “wall”, the work would become overwhelming, yet if you focus on laying each brick perfectly, soon you have a wall. Did we just lay one of the bricks?
What I felt the most about the weekend was that this was a group of educators that wanted to make a difference. By no means are they the only ones in education that want this, but that trait was abundantly evident at this conference. That passion was infectious and it needs to spread. By continuing to use things like the #ConnectedCA hashtag and connecting with one another, will we continue to build momentum to a better way of school?
What schools and education need to learn from things like Occupy Wallstreet is that if you want to create mass change, you have to make your movement public. Keeping the conversations, problems and solutions confined to conversations in your school is something that we shouldn’t do anymore. The conversations need to be open and the connections need to be strong. Erin, Neil, and I talked over the last few days about our own accountability to what we just witnessed over the last few days. We knew that if this was just another “conference” we probably have failed. But if we can all use and continue to build upon the “wisdom of the room” and push each other to get better continuously we will have so much more.
If you are looking for the answer to education reform, it does not lie in any type of pedagogy or technology. It lies within people. People that want to make a difference in the lives of children. People that know if schools need to get better, we as individuals need to get better. As evidenced this weekend, this is not only educators, but it is also students, parents, and citizens who care about the future of our kids and know that improving school means improving so much more in our world.
As Jerry Maguire said, “Who’s coming with me?”