Happy New Year! There’s something about January that I love. Whether or not we keep our resolutions, the simple act of stopping to reflect on the year behind us and look at the new year with optimism gives us a sense of renewal and hope. It also gives us direction for where we are headed. “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
This coming year I am really looking forward to two exciting education events! I am hopeful that you will join us in one or both!
1) The first of the two events, is Make BC Smile – an initiative that students in my leadership class created. Make BC Smile will take place in BC from Monday May 26th – Friday May 30th. The premise is simple – have students engage in projects that spread kindness and help make people in BC stop and smile. What I love about this project is how it came to be. In October, I showed my leadership class a video I had found on Twitter, created by Massoud Adibpour. He is a university student in Washington DC who decided to make it his mission to make DC smile. He got some friends together and began the ‘Honk if You Love Someone Campaign‘. My intention was simplistic. I thought I would show the video to my students, and then we would repeat the idea by creating positive signs to hold on Lougheed Highway in Maple Ridge for one morning. What happened next was pretty cool. Local media learned of our project because passerby’s phoned the media and asked them to cover it. The Province newspaper wrote ‘Happy Haney students spread the love with streetside rally‘. The secretaries at our school fielded multiple calls from drivers who wanted to thank the students for making their day. One lady broke down in tears in the Starbucks line up sharing the impact the simple messages had that particular day. As an educator, I LOVE the impact this day had on our students. A couple of days later, one of my students, Caroline, approached me and asked if I had a plan for our leadership class the following week. I asked why. She told me she needed 20 minutes of the class. She had taken it upon herself to contact Massoud Adibpour in Washington DC to let him know that we had repeated his project and she had made arrangements for him to join us via Skype to share ideas for positive projects in our communities! On the Monday, during the Skype conversation, two other leadership students, Jenna & Miranda, thought of a new idea. As members of the Maple Ridge District Student Advisory Council, they were in search of a motivational speaker for May for a grade 6-7 leadership conference. What if Massoud & his girlfriend Bonnie could be the speakers? What if the leadership conference could include a district wide ‘Honk if you Love Someone’ campaign with grade 6-12 students lining the streets from East to West through Pitt Meadows & Maple Ridge? As grade 12 students at Thomas Haney (a self directed school), they know how to negotiate, take initiative, and advocate for what they want. So what did they do? They did their research, looked up flights, contacted Massoud & Bonnie and convinced them not only to volunteer their time to come to Vancouver, but also to extend their stay for a week! They then set up a meeting with our superintendent’s office to confirm funding. This ALL happened before they shared the idea with me. I told them I loved it – I just had one question…. where would they stay? They smiled and said “at your house!”. (Which our family is excited about) I love how they have created this all on their own! Their goal is to share their enthusiasm with others across the province. For the week of May 26-30th the Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows School District will work together spreading random acts of kindness throughout the community in an effort to ‘Make BC Smile’. We would LOVE to have schools around the province join us. If you would like to participate, please comment below and our students will be in touch and showcase your initiative on http://www.makebcsmile.com. I know it will be an exciting week. I’m smiling already!
2) The second event I’m looking forward to is a bit of a dream come true. For those of you that know me well, you know I LOVE education and I LOVE planning events. Well, this year, when a team of educators from our school travelled to Edmonton for the annual CCSDL Conference (Canadian Coalition of Self Directed Learning), we found out that the city scheduled to host the conference next year had to back out. My principal Sean Nosek and I had already been speaking about planning an exciting pro-d event in Vancouver, so we decided to take the plunge and offer up our school as the next host school for this national teaching conference. However, in talking with our teachers, we realized we have all reached a place where our expectations for Pro-D are changing. We don’t want to be ‘talked-to’ – we want to participate. We want to leave the conference inspired, and full of new ideas. We realized we crave something different – something new – something that shakes up education. We want to plan a conference that we would like to attend… a conference that challenges us to be better educators and inspires us to try new ideas. A conference that dares to disrupt education.
After a couple months of preliminary planning our ideas are starting to take shape. Here’s what I can tell you so far…. DisruptED Vancouver will take place over three days, October 23 – 25th 2014. The Thursday will take place at Thomas Haney Secondary and the Friday / Saturday will take place at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
So what is DisruptED? Our ideas are unfolding but here’s a glimpse into what we hope to create….
DisruptED is different. It is not for those who want the future to look the same as today. It is not for those who doubt our education system and what it can become. DisruptED is for those who believe in the future of education and believe that we have a responsibility to create the best system we possibly can. It’s for those who want every student to have an education that is rich and meaningful. It’s for those who are willing to challenge assumptions that hold us back and take bold steps to move education forward.
DisruptED promises to be a powerful 3 day conference in Vancouver, BC where great minds in education will gather together to share ideas that are innovative, promising, creative, hopeful and inspiring. DisruptED invites the rogues, the rule breakers, the ones interested in pushing the limits to step forward. We will provide an opportunity for individuals and groups to come together, to share stories and ideas, united in our belief that beautiful things can happen when we disrupt the status quo.
And we could not promote this idea without living it. DisruptED will NOT be a status quo conference. Expect to participate. Expect to create. Expect to learn. Expect to teach. Expect to think. Expect to laugh. Expect to experience the beauty of Vancouver as you join in walking conversations on Vancouver’s seawall, engage in rich dialogue in one of the city’s casual cafes, or use what you’ve learned to compete in the DisruptED Vancouver Amazing Race. Expect to leave motivated, inspired, connected and ready to shake up education.
It’s time to DisruptED.
I hope that you will consider joining us! Our call for presenters will open this spring and our website will be announced later this month. If you would like to join our mailing list please comment below. For more information you can also contact us via email at Sean_Nosek@sd42.ca or Kristi_Blakeway@sd42.ca
As I look ahead to 2014, I do so with excitement and gratitude. I cannot wait to join with students to Make BC Smile and connect with educators to DisruptED!