Sunday, December 20, 2015

Origin Story Part Two - Teacher Play Date 2015

The #2PencilChat started off with a joke. Teacher Play Date started more conventionally - with a couple of Instagram comments at five in the morning, and then a flurry of texts over the next hour.

I was in Orlando for ECET2 Florida. If you haven't heard of it, it's worth looking up, I've enjoyed the ECET2 events almost as much as EdCamps. Anyway, I was there, Friday night, just before bed, thumbing through my Instagram feed. And I see that my pal (the amazing, energetic, and incredibly yes-centric) Jen Williams is in Orlando, too, having dinner with some mutual friends. Well darn! If I'd known, it would've been fun to meet up with them. I commented, and went to sleep soon after. 

Waking up far too early the next morning, I grabbed my phone to check notifications, and see there's a comment on Instagram. Jen had gone home. I replied, and got a text a couple of minutes later:

First: The fact that we are up at
5:30 am on a sat is crazy haha!!!!
Text message 5:29 AM

After a little bit of back and forth about where we were, next came:

We need a fun event before 
FETC!!!! Any thoughts?
Text message 5:32 AM

January is too far away!
Text message 5:32 AM

Um let's create a micro event
that's somewhere in central
Florida in late Nov/early Dec
Text message 5:34 AM

Okay let's do that!!!
Text message 5:34 AM

Perfect idea!
Text message 5:35 AM

Text message 5:35 AM

From there, we texted relentless positivity, each of us tossing out ideas and yesses. Teacher Toy Fair? YES!!! Crayola Experience? YES!!! Teacher Play Date? YES!!! Jen and I kept the ideas coming, and half of the time we were texting the same thing at the same moment. It was a beautiful hour of flow and synchronicity all starting because we'd both woken up at a ridiculous hour. 

By the end of the day, I was tweeting a place holder image online. We'd picked a time and date. Early the next week, Jen had convinced Crayola to lend us space in their cafeteria and free admission for anyone on our guest list and set up the registration on Eventbrite. We both shared the logo I designed, our signup, and our mission relentlessly online. 

The sign ups came FAST. In a very short amount of time, we had a nice guest list, filled with creative educators. More importantly, it was filled with people who know that we all need time to PLAY in our learning process. Teachers need to play to develop the lessons and the systems that keep learning awesome for their students. Students need to play to learn, it's such a sticky, effective way to learn!

The thing about putting this event together is that it seemed so easy, and while I know that it's repeatable, I think the thing about it is that you have two people who love ideas, two yes people, two people with energy and excitement. Whenever Jen would tell me what she'd been doing, I wondered how I got so lucky to work with someone so awesome, but then I'd get texts from her and she was feeling the same excitement and joy.

So my wish to you is that you find collaborators. Hang out with people who are fun. Inspiration comes at some weird times! 


I wanted to share a little about the event itself, this was the story of the origin, but the actual night was so amazing. It was so simple, the teachers present were asked to share something that they did or used to make school more fun. We had robots (Sphero was there, the Ozobots accidentally fell out of the bag at home), Marbotic iPad letters,  a Makey Makey, student crafts, Google Cardboard, Quivervision augmented reality coloring sheets, homemade playdough (colored with spices and food!), text speech Shakespeare (Yolo, Juliet) and more. It was awesome, and the response afterward has been so positive!

Going forward from here, Jen and I want to help others put on Teacher Play Date events in their towns, and hopefully develop a way to help us attend these events and collaborate with the best teachers in the country! In the meantime, we're planning to hold a #TeachPlayFETC meetup, a #TeachPlayStAug event in February, and more!

I'd like to thank everyone who attended. Scroll through the Storify article below. You'll see happy pictures of amazing teachers having fun!

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