Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Why I love #CHAedu #coffeeEDU

Education and educators are a segmented lot. A classroom teacher teaches their students and comes into contact with maybe 5-10 other educators on a daily basis. Most others are just passing conversations in the hallway unless they are on your grade level team/dept and you can add another few hours a week. The point I'm trying to make is that it's really easy for educators to fall victim to no new ideas for their classroom. We can easily sit in silos and echo chambers, only hear the rumblings of discontent around us and the supporting rumblings. We can easily find ourselves in a culture of acceptance of "this is the way, this is what I've been dealt, bloom where I'm planted" and lose our visionary outlook.

The above is the reason I am passionate about being a part of the monthly Chattanooga area coffeeEDU. I didn't dream up the concept of coffeeEDU but I did see the value of it in the Chattanooga area. Chattanooga is uniquely located in an area that easily accesses 3 states. It is a private school heavy environment and has several colleges/universities in the area. As I helped with Edcamp gigcity for the past two years I stood amazed at how many different school districts, schools, and states were represented. I also immediately saw the value of being plugged into some of these schools because they were doing things my school wasn't doing. Trying things I knew educators at my school were interested in. 

So, I decided to do a social media invite to #CHAedu #coffeeEDU. The first meeting took place at a donut shop and I had no idea who would actually come... imagine my surprise when 2 higher education professors from two different colleges, 2-3 different private schools were represented, and public school educators from both Georgia and Tennessee showed up! We've met every month since then (taking the summers off) at different schools. We've shared our struggles, asked questions about things we want to know more about, shared transparently about things that worry us in education, celebrated things we've seen as triumphs, gotten to know each other better, grown the group, eaten lots of donuts, and thought outside our normal spheres of educational banter.

For me it has been refreshing. It's nice to hear I'm not the only one feeling overwhelmed at times. It's nice to have a network of people to engage with and ask questions. It's nice to have face to face interactions with people that see education differently than I do. It's nice to listen and gauge and reflect on what others are doing. I am thankful for this group that is always changing because who has a Saturday each month to always give up? But I am thankful to the core of people, that like me, see this as worthy of carrying on. We spend 1 hour in discussion of whatever topics come up. It is participant driven, like an unconference model. One hour is it...we all have things to do on Saturdays but I always leave glad I participated.

May I always see the importance of both hearing and listening to the pros and cons of educational speak from others around me so that I may continue to grow. 

p.s.- Next coffeeEDU is December 10, 2016 at Girls Preparatory School. All area edus are always invited.