Over the past 18 months, I’ve hosted 8 Ignite Events as part of my role as Community Manager for Discovery Education. If you’re not familiar with these events, here’s a brief invitation I created for our upcoming event in Vancouver.
I’ve heard superintendents, principals, teachers, community members and students share over 70 of these talks. Mostly hosted in pubs or restaurants, there are several factors that make this one of the best networking/learning events I’ve been a part of.
- Location: The fact we hold them in a pub is important. It’s purposely not in a school and not just because people can drink, although that can helpful. An offsite location immediately relaxes people, let’s them know this isn’t necessarily work related as well it represents a neutral meeting space. In addition, the less fancy, the better. Each location has had its challenges in terms of viewing screens and hearing speakers but those constraints actually make people work harder to support one another.
- Social first, learning second: The order is important. In most professional learning environments, social is at best acknowledged, at worst ignored. Our focus is on the networking. We create time and space to have conversations. For many participants, it’s the awakening to the idea that learning can be social and professional. Many say they’ve never experienced an event like it before.
- Stories, not performances. I gave an Ignite talk at ISTE a few years back. That was a performance. People didn’t want me to mess up. I didn’t want to mess up. I rehearsed every word. I practiced my timing and cadence. At my events, we want the focus to be on the story and community. We expect people to mess up. We laugh with them, we cheer them on, we applaud, we talk about them later.
- Diversity rules. I work hard each event to have as many educational perspectives represented. I’ve had 9-year-olds follow Superintendents. All voices are considered equal. Even the topics are diverse. Some folks talk about their classrooms and schools, others talk about their personal lives. The binding them is discovery and curiousity.
My goal with each event is to grow community. The wonderful role I have with Discovery Education is to continue the mission we have to connect educators with their most valuable resource: each other. This is one way we do that. Watch for an Ignite event heading your way.
cross-posted at ideasandthoughts.org/
Dean Shareski is the Community Manager of the Canadian DEN (Discovery Educators Network) and lecturer for the University of Regina. With 24 years of experience as a K12 educator and consultant, he specializes in the use of technology in the classroom. Read more at ideasandthoughts.org.