Wherever you go, there you are.

I may have missed the boat with a TEDxNYED reflection being that it is going on Wednesday and several others have already gushed about the day.  If you had paid attention to the stream of one-liners that was flying from stage to twitter during the day, you would have heard some gems like these:

Now we could donate more than just money, we could donate our skills.  Location did not matter anymore.  It is  “The Death of Distance” (Andy Carvin)

Volunteerism has been redefined and we are the ones redefining it. (Andy Carvin)

Media are not just tools, they mediate relationships.  When media changes, relationships change, and thus we change as a society. (Michael Wesch)

Teachers who are most successfully are the ones who share most successfully with the most people. (David Wiley)

A parade of rainbow sparkle ponies. (David Wiley)

The role of new media should be to increase our capacity to be generous and open.  Let’s get away from static artifacts of learning, and more towards openness and discourse and discussion. (David Wiley)

And that was before lunch had been served.  It was a day where it was easy to get caught up in the gravity of what was being spoken about, or to take what you heard and scream out an “Amen” or two.  For the last few weeks, I had been looking to this as the one big change in thinking I was needing.

It wasn’t.

The event was so well-planned, and so well-thought out by the organizers.  The speakers were right on and I took a ton out of each of them, and it would have seemed that the stars were aligned for a truly transformative event for me.  I’d built it up to that in my mind, and was really trying to make it happen as the day unfolded, but I got to a point where I just stopped it and let go.  It was at that point to that two things happened.

First, I ran into George Mayo, who I hadn’t seen in two years, and whose solid work with students has had a great impact on my thinking over the last few years.  George and I met three years ago at SLA during one of Steve Hargadon’s pre-Classroom 2.0 learning sessions.  Will Richardson spoke for about the necessity to open our own learning and the learning our colleagues and students.  Looking back, that day, meeting those people (Chris Lehmann, Robin Ellis, Cory Pepler, and Christian Long were all in attendance), it’s clear that it changed the course of my career.  From that point, the metamorphosis that’s occurred in my beliefs, my energy, and my learning has been truly astounding.  So seeing George was a clear reminder of that journey, and that was welcome.

Second, I relaxed and let the day come to me instead of placing it on a pedestal and putting immense pressure on it.  It didn’t have to be a milestone day like that day back in 2007 was, and expecting a day like that would surely ruin whatever it was I was going to take from the experience.  Yes, there were some amazing thinkers and doers in the room, but one can’t expect osmotic learning to occur.  The ideas were flying around and I was doing my best to capture them in my notes and in my thoughts; however, it’s what comes next that will prove to be the biggest difference from TEDxNYED: the changes I bring about.

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7 thoughts on “Wherever you go, there you are.

  1. Patrick, I enjoyed catching up with George, too, for many of the same reasons you state. For some of us, this day wasn’t meant to be transformative. We’ve been transformed. Yet, I do need to continue to connect with and hear from people who are of like minds. I often feel alone at my school, so spending the day hearing from well-known, articulate people at TEDxNYED helps me remember why I am on this journey. I felt supported and inspired. It was great to meet you in person, too!

    1. Susan,

      I concur with you here; the day wasn’t necessarily aimed at changing the minds of any of the participants, but rather, as Chris points out, to expand them and let them run with the ideas presented. Personally, I think I entered the day with unrealistic expectations, much like the expectations I entered with in the day I described in 2007. In hindsight, that’s unfair to what the day was.

      Dan Meyer’s description of the day from the perspective of both a presenter and a participant was right on. Marrying the high ideas of some of the presenters to the daily realities is a very tall order, and one reserved for those of us who sometimes feel like we are on islands in the districts we work in. Regardless, it was great to meet you in person, and to share the experience.

    2. @Susan. Thank you for your support. That is exactly what we were shooting for. As you have seen in my posts, we will improve the model to address the concerns but at the end of the day we will never be able to make everyone happy.

      @Patrick. Indeed. When you look at something what happened at TEDxNYED for many it will be what you do with the ideas when you return home. I look forward to what you and others come up with. At the same time, for others this was their introduction to those ideas and they will need time to process what they saw. Hopefully both world can lead to some successful advances in our world of education. Thanks for your comments and being a part of TEDxNYED.

  2. Bingo.

    And on some level, if we’re talking about empowering learners and such, why are we, as learners, expecting this magical-thinking moment where someone else transforms us. All the ideas we heard on Saturday are expandable… and every one who spoke has expanded upon them in one arena or another. With luck, what the day (and what any really good TED talk) should do is push us to research more, think harder, and find the relevant actions for ourselves.

    1. Chris,

      Well said. That’s my huge sticking point right now–I’m knee deep in some redesign and trying to figure out where these larger ideas fit in the daily business of schooling and thinking about school is the work that we must do to make these ideas valid.

  3. Hey Patrick,

    It was definitely great catching up with you during the conference and at the after-party as well. It’s rare that I get the chance to attend these types of events. The best part of attending an educational event like this is meeting up with other like-minded educators. Susan and I had the chance to talk for ten minutes and we planned a possible poetry project for the spring. It’s these real face to face meetings that make these events worthwhile.

    Many of the ideas I heard will be percolating in my head for weeks to come.

    George Mayo

    1. George,

      Glad to see that we both found our trains! I agree, it’s going to take some time for these ideas to grow some legs and find their way into my practice at a realistic level. Looking forward to seeing some great things from you in the near future.

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