Sitting on the train, on the last leg home, I want to secure the magic of UnPlugd11. It’s nourishment that I’ll continue to reflect upon as I challenge myself in my personal and professional life.
Held at the Edge, a beautiful “off-the-grid” retreat in Algonquin Park, Unplugd11 was a three-day meeting of 37 Canadian education advocates – teachers, administrators, parents, trustees. We all came prepared with an essay and narrative entitled, “Why ________ Matters”, which we shared with our peers for further editing. No internet, no cell service, no devices. We were truly unplugged, but very much connected.
During the group meetings, the layers were peeled back as participants shared successes, stumbles, frustrations, questions, guidance and feedback. We were challenged to travel down new paths, even if they were steep. Disturbance. From “Cut the fat” and “Claim it, you’re the expert” to “I love you guys”. We recharged.
On a morning run down the long gravel road, out in the blue Swift canoe, sitting on the dock as the afternoon passed by. These were the settings that framed some of those moments when the magic appeared with these passionate collaborators. It was a place where I finally got to meet my teaching partner, and friend, Clarence Fisher, face-to-face.
Some of the first items on my list as I begin to unpack from the #unplugd11 process:
- Read the book Mindset by Carol Dweck, recommended to me by @Stephen_Hurley during an evening conversation.
- Dig through the Livescribe instructional resources. First use for me, pencasts to support students in my triple-grade math class.
- Put apples in my basket (@joevans)! Register & train for the Run-off-the-Grid trail race with Alana Callan on Sept. 24. If we can’t convince @charbeck to be our pace bunny, we’re counting on him for his continued inspiration. Anyone else in?
- Absorb, reflect and question each message in the soon-to-be-published, “Why ___ Matters” essays. How does each message relate to my students, beliefs, and professional development?
- Deepen connections with the participants, and other educators who push my thinking, as we continue to take risks in an effort to transform our practice for our students.
My friend, Andrew Forgrave recently wrote about unleashing creativity. “Frameworks and boundlessness need to co-exist. Discipline and chaos can sit side-by-side and juxtapose to make something.” Reassurance for taking risks. Moving forward with renewed confidence, I’ll share the messages that for me, define unplugd11. Thank-you Rodd, Ben and the entire organizing committee for a memorable experience.