Saturday, December 19, 2015

Origin Story Part One, The #2PencilChat

Saturday, September 19, 2015

My pal Kristin and I left oh so early in the morning to leave for EdCamp Citrus. It was the site of my first EdCamp a year before, and I was excited to return. The thing was, though, I was beat. Between the new school year and a new apartment, I'd been burning candles at all sorts of ends. I unsigned myself up for leading a discussion, and I was just not in good spirits for most of the morning. Lunch helped. Good conversation helped, and by the afternoon, I was my usual happy self.

For me, though, the best part of the day was in the parking lot before leaving. I was chatting with friends about the sheer number of Twitter chats out there. My pal Tammy said, "I mean what's next? The #2PencilChat?" We all laughed. And then it popped in my head, "Tammy, that's genius! It's already got a hashtag." As I wrapped my brain around that sentence, I thought it could be a chat that talks about the tech that we've had for ages.

When you get a bunch of teachers together, especially the connected ones - the bloggers, the Twitterers, the conference goers - you have a lot of talk about digital tech. Gadgets, apps, websites, gamification platforms - the flashy stuff gets a lot of mention. But when we do that we're sending a message that a new app is the way to get that illusive Innovative (or whatever scale point your district uses) on your evaluation. And it's not the apps, it's the teaching, it's the mindset, it's ways that keep your students engaged. And it's not just the digital. Don't get me wrong here. I'm writing this on my laptop, and within my reach, are a ton of digital devices that I love so much. You don't throw your stove away when you buy a microwave, though, and you don't toss out your screwdrivers when you buy a cordless drill. That's what the #2PencilChat could be about.

After that weekend, I talked with people, they seemed to love the idea. I made posters and posted them to Twitter. I picked a date (about a month later), and hustled to get people on board. The first chat happened on October 27, and from that date, the chat has quickly grown to be a weekly meeting of some of the most creative people I know. We've shared ideas about using different materials(Sharpies, cardboard), techniques (sketchnoting), and concepts (play, gratitude).

Since then, Tuesdays have been more special to me! There are so many people that have helped to make it great, but I want to thank a few for specific reasons. Stacey Lindes has archived the chat each week on Storify for us, even when she's not able to make it in time. Amber McCormick and Dianne Doersch have both done a lovely job designing our question cards. And there are so many more people - it would be insulting to just list a few, so I invite you to check out the Archives of the #2PencilChat. In it, you'll see brilliant ideas from so many people!

So that's it, it started with a road trip with one of my favorite people, and a joke from another of my favorite people. What it's spawned, for me, is new friendships and great conversations with a whole new pile of favorite people. If you're at all like me, quit worrying about if it will work, and go out and start something based on a joke. If it doesn't work, you learn and you'll start something better next time. If it does, though, you'll hold magic for a while! And you'll learn, and you'll still go on to start something awesome next time.

Speaking of next time, soon, I'll share the origin of Teacher Playdate!
In the meantime, visit the #2PencilChat website, or tune in on Twitter, every Tuesday at 7pm est!

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