Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Process is the Product

There were many ‘A-Ha’ moments in the lead up to UnPlug'd, but the tipping point to the event, was the decision to revisit collaborative publishing. The publishing of one’s own words, refined to sit alongside the ideas of passionate peers, would become the pinpoint focus for our time at the Edge.

The resulting product, which is being released one chapter at a time over the next 6 weeks, is a book that encapsulates many of the things that participating Canadian educators think matter most. While you would think that bringing tech-savvy educators together to tell stories, and to think, and to share might lead to discussion about the latest technological tools, there was nary a mention of Google+ or any other emerging tool. The weekend was about connecting and learning.

Our book title: “Why ___________ Matters” gave each participant the opportunity to fill in the blank. This differentiated writing and story-telling task led to the exploration of a wide range of topics that resonated through the passionate participation of delegates. None-the-less, our collaborative book will leave many unconsidered ‘blanks’ including:

Why imperfection matters;
Why commitment matters;
Why stories matter;
Why authenticity matters;
Why healthy choices matter;
Why risk-taking matters;
Why circles matter.

UnPlug’d was intentionally structured to engage participants in increasingly personal conversations, that in the end led participants to share stories and writing that would make possible the end result: a book. By traveling together, dining together, singing together, paddling together, washing dishes together, doing yoga together, watching the night sky together, we became a more tightly knit tribe.

In a following post, I’ll be writing about the flexible but carefully structured ‘lesson plan’ for UnPlug’d, but there is one big, big thing I’d like #unplugd11 participants to consider: How can you bring similar community building experiences to your classroom in the coming school year?

Will you make time to share personal stories?
Will your classroom leverage 'circle-ness'?
Will you embrace opportunities to share healthy food together?
Will you model and support risk-taking?
Will you foster an environment that harnesses individual accountability to the group?
Will you be fully attentive to the needs of colleagues and students?

Will you build community through ordinary actions, in order to create an extraordinary learning environment?

Photo Credits: Andy Forgrave, Northern Edge Algonquin, Bryan Jackson
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