Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Unplug'd Experience

The Unplug'd Participantscc licensed flickr photo shared by unplugd
From August 5 to 7th 2011 forty Canadian Educators got together to spend time talking about "Why ________ Matters!".  It was a truly Canadian experience. Why had we gotten together and were would this be leading us too?  These are questions I still wrestle with today when explaining to people what we accomplished that weekend.  Perhaps the Unplug'd website would help. Here is what it said:

UnPlug’d brings together Canadian educational change agents to share peer-reviewed success stories; to deepen relationships among participants; to publish the collective vision of the group.  Grassroots educators will share their first-hand experiences, collectively considering modern approaches to learning.  The summit will culminate with the release a publication that communicates a vision for the future of K-12 education in Canada.  
 Forty educators, 40 stories made for passionate discussions.  It was the discussion that was so special about Unplugd.  Most of us were familiar with each other from our online PLN.  We had talked, chatted in 140 characters or less but never sat down and looked each other in the eyes and had conversations.  It is always fascinating to meet people in our online network and family F2F.  Things change and we start to hear the passion behind the words that we read so often.  This is one of the reasons why Unplug'd worked. We did deepen relationships with other participants such a powerful experience.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10
We were able to unhook ourselves from the network. Have a F2F network of people all gathered around a table, canoe, dock, lake, cabin, meal anywhere you could sit or be with someone conversations were happening.  Real conversations.  This was so rich.

All of us came with our homework completed.  An essay of 250 to 400 words.  Something you were passionate about.  We were grouped into small pods or chapter groups with a loose connection between us.  What was amazing is that when we all shared our stories and essays it was obvious that we were meant to be in that specific group.  The Organizers had grouped us based on title alone.  As we read, shared and became a team you could see the threads holding us together.  As the organizers said in their introduction
to publish the collective vision of the group.  Grassroots educators will share their first-hand experiences, collectively considering modern approaches to learning.


cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

When I walked into this project it would be fair that my batteries were on low.  I had gotten through the year, had great students, used tech to capture their imagination and allow them to be producers of learning but still felt empty.  I had not done something new, not found anything to push my envelope of learning.  Unplug'd changed all of that.  Personally I am recharged and have done 2 blog posts in a week.  Reflecting, thinking and sharing thoughts.  Wow! It is fun to write again. All of this would not have happened if it was not for that weekend.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10
But where do we go.  The book has been published.  The Introduction and Chapter 1 are available now  and the next chapters will be published every week.  This allows for discussion, debate and conversations in manageable chunks. I hope you all read the book and soak in the messages that were shared.  Something will resonate with you.  Take that thought, that bit of knowledge and use it to recharge your batteries.

This was a bit of a rambling post but hey I got it done.  There will be more posts to come. Just like a sunrise:)


cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

8 comments:

Heather Durnin said...

It was great to meet you f2f and discover the other facets of your life that you are passionate about - photography and running. Thanks for sharing those with us - you've inspired those around you.

Mr. H said...

Thanks for the comment. The pleasure of meeting you and so many others face to face was worth the hard work in making the essay and editing the chapter. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Zoe said...

Chris,
I couldn't stop smiling when I read your post. It was so genuine and so you. I first read it this afternoon, while sitting in an office and I was so engrossed that I didn't hear the lady call my name.
There was absolutely no doubt at all of how much you appreciated this event. Those hugs you gave out on the first day, and the excitement on you face, pretty much the entire time, made it all worth it for me!
What resonated most for me was how you described the need to recharge:
"When I walked into this project it would be fair that my batteries were on low. I had gotten through the year, had great students, used tech to capture their imagination and allow them to be producers of learning but still felt empty.... Unplug'd changed all of that."
It certainly did that for me too. For many of us who are trying to push the envelope, and often are confronted by the "lizard brains" (S.Godin) this event reassured us, reminded us and helped direct us to where we are going in our endeavors to improve our education system across Canada.
It was certainly empowering for all of us, wasn't it.
Chris, I also want to thank you so much for taking so many incredible pictures. The work you put into this was so generous and meant so much to many of us. Those sunsets are remarkable. You are remarkable.

Zoe

Ben Hazzard said...

Chris,
Your comment to: "Take that thought, that bit of knowledge and use it to recharge your batteries." is one that I'm already embracing. In our final circle sharing you talked about recharging batteries, and I have often reflected on that as I focused on that moment.

Thank you for helping to re-energize me!
Ben

Tor Hershman said...

and the sun is always settin' somewhere, ain't it?

Ann Oro said...

I'm so glad you wrote about your experience. I spent a good deal of time paging through the PDFs, looking at the photos, and watching the videos. I love the whole idea of getting away on a mountain retreat for the experience. I look forward to reading the rest of the PDFs as they are published.

Mr. H said...

Thanks for the comment Ann. It was a terrific experience and recharged my batteries. Amazing people. When the PLN gets together in person and decides to do something ... great things happen. Fabulous model to follow. It should be duplicated elsewhere.

Ann Oro said...

Absolutely, Chris. I helped to organize EdCamp NYC last year and this year. It's so amazing to watch the day unfold as teachers volunteer to share what they know. I had a great conversation in Philly a couple of weeks ago about digital citizenship in a discussion I led at something called ntcamp (New Teacher). There is something so special about getting deeply interested people together to share.

The quality of the artifacts you are all creating is testimony to those involved in your event. It's great to approach the new school year with renewed vigor!