So, if you know me, I will often try to wrap my head around something by laying out the entire history of education, the systematic change we are undergoing as a society in tandem with my three week journey of an Edu-Tri-athalon all in one mega blog post that just seems to go on and on! (Yes! Yikes! I’ve got one going right now waiting to be published! :D)
But the #Kinderchat, this I just can’t intellectualize. #EdcampKinder: when I even type the words, the tears start flowing. That’s telling me all I need to know. (No! I’m NOT A SAP!) 😀 It tells me my heart is right here. It tells me I have no choice. “You had me at hello.”
Two years of work. Two years of pouring my time, energy, giving it my all in every way I possibly could to foster this little community. To spark connections, create systems, not to mention be there EVERY WEEK! Of course I didn’t do any of this alone, my trusty compadre @happycampergirl there right alongside of me as well as the amazing group of educators we call #Kinderchat shaping me and my professional direction. For me, its always a questioning and then re-questioning of myself, my motives, my perspective, my direction. An endless cycle of reflection and action.
So here we were. In Las Vegas, no less. Ten of us. Ten people who paid their own money- THEIR OWN MONEY. To come and meet each other. We had t-shirts, we had “Dessert in the Desert”. We met, we laughed, I cried.
I cried because here we were. An online community in real life. It felt remotely strange at first and yet all at the same time, completely normal. Was this real? What were we doing at the conference table in the middle of Las Vegas? How bossy should I be or not be? Had we already said everything in over two years of online conversation?
We had agreed on meetings from 4-6 each day no matter what. So we were all finally there, sitting at a big circle table. Long pause. Looking at each other. Slightly uncomfortable. For about exactly what was probably one minute but seemed like five. Oh God, I’m sweating, will this work out? This trip was for me, to see, in short, were we as a group, something real? in it for the long haul? how authentic were the connections? was the passion and purpose there?
Then, just like that- the skype in session started. “Hey, let’s call so and so!” someone said. “Ok!” Suddenly a massively chaotic skype-in session started. People talking to rectangular picture frames in the corner. People holding up the picture frames so the picture frames could talk to one another. People passing the talking picture frames around in a circle. It was a wonderful, distracting successful disaster. Oh God, are we never going to get to talk I wondered? Yes, if I was not a pray-er before #Kinderchat I certainly am now 😀 Do I clap my hands and insist on meeting? We can’t lose this chance to talk! But I just let go. Wait. Listen. Listen.
Soon the skyping ended and Melisssa Sheldon from the I Teach K conference made her way over to the table. A very special Thanks to her and I Teach K btw for allowing us to use that space that day and to be a part of their conference. Suddenly we were filled with stories and the sharing of the projects that we have all been working on throughout the last year came pouring out onto the table. It flowed. The conversation that came out of that hour was more passionate, focused, diverse, innovative and respectful than I may have ever heard.
That tone stayed with us over almost four full days. I can’t quite explain what was there but there was a softness, an affinity, a level of authentic respect, necessary tension, suspense and genuine interest in one another that prevailed. In short, a friendship.
Stacey kept me laughing with her telling her husband, “Ok, honey, I’m going to Las Vegas for four days to meet up with some people I met over the internet, okay?” 😀 It still makes me laugh! Tasha had decided to come and make a holiday out of it, coming all the way from Japan to spend five days in conversation with people she had never met before. Mardelle and Marya brought their husbands and they were immediately welcomed and accepted as part of the group. Everyone took some degree of risk to come and see what this was all about. That’s engagement. That’s investment. That’s passion.
I heard a for-profit person say “free isn’t sustainable” once. Maybe. Maybe we will die out one day. I know, I know, for-profits uniquely live on for an eternity. 😀 But for now, at least for now and for the last two years, #Kinderchat is lighting a fire. A big fire. One that burns brightly. One that has lots of wood cut and stacked for the winter. One with passion, purpose, and remarkable PEOPLE at the helm. One that has a community around it, cooking, talking, learning, laughing, sharing, throwing glitter at each other. No, the #Kinderchat not going anywhere for quite awhile. The #Kinderchat is here to stay.