Friday, February 5, 2016

Connecting Educators to Break Down Silos: Inviting Readers & Colleagues to Sign Up & Join the "Grassroots" Movement

On February 23-24, Seth Burgess of Lausanne Collegiate School and I will be traveling to Los Angeles to present at the 2016 OESIS gathering. We'll be hosting a workshop on gamification (like we did in Boston last fall; go here to see more...), but we'll also be sitting on a panel discussing "English Teachers and Innovative Practices" AND we'll be giving an Ignite Keynote address on "Breaking Down the Silo Mentality: A Grassroots Movement." It's going to be a busy few days, and we're so excited about it. (You can go here to see the conference program.)
Come see our "Ignite Keynote" Feb. 23, 8:00-9:15am, at OESIS LA 2016
A lot of what we'll be sharing in our keynote is an extension of what I reflected on (in a more theoretical manner) in a previous post (which can be found here). We as educators sometimes feel limited or isolated by the parameters of curriculum, departmental territories, the geographic separation of campuses, or assessment models that are too tied to grade averages, which makes it difficult for a teacher to take risks, try something new, or simply experiment with an idea. So how can we make that more possible? How can we make connections with fellow educators who, like us, want to break out of such silos by bringing together our classrooms, departments, campuses, etc., for purposes of attempting to do something differently? It's hard to break free of the silo mentality alone: we need each other, and my story is a perfect example (watch the vid. below if you have 25mins; it's not necessary for the point of the post, however...):

Of course Seth and I met on similar terms (much like the story told in the above video). We were two teachers at a conference who were both interested in breaking out of certain silos, in this case our classrooms and campuses, and our willingness to collaborate pushed both of us to try something totally different when we successfully gamified our English classes for the first time (go here for links to read more about it.)  As Seth and I prepare to deliver our talk on this very topic, I've decided to set up a Google Form (here), and the idea is that any educator, at OESIS or elsewhere, can fill in his or her info (name, place or work, position, contact info., and what "silo" they want to break out of) such that the information entered will be displayed publicly for other educators to see. That way we can start the process of breaking down silos one collaboration at a time by connecting with each other to plan projects outside the area that makes us feel so limited (campus, department, assessment models, etc.). If you go to the link for the Google Form, you'll see an embedded spreadsheet presentation with people's information located just below the form. Anyone who fills out the form will have his or her information displayed there as well, and I suggest that one think of it as an arrival/departure board like that found in airports where one can look for the possible connection, the potential "line of flight," that makes breaking out of the silo in question all the more feasible.  Who on the spreadsheet is the right connection for you and your idea? Take a look, and once people begin to provide their info., identify the person whose interests match your own. Maybe you're looking for someone who's of a similar department but wants to connect with classrooms at other campuses. Maybe you're looking a for a history teacher to collaborate on your art project? The possibilities are quite expansive, so go here, check it out, and fill in your info. so we can connect our classrooms, our curricula, and most excitingly our students to break down the walls of today so we can explore the "rhizomatic" landscapes of tomorrow.

Join the grassroots movement!

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