Last month at Town Hall I gave an auctioneer-style presentation on how building a new unit on activism and advertising with 6th graders was a little like falling in love. Those five minutes on stage were seemingly endless, yet far too brief to contain everything I wanted to tell the world about the amazing work tweens can do when we let their learning get a little unstructured. As I paced around before the show started I thought to myself what I always think before I give a talk: WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO.
For The Seattle Times’ Ignite Education Lab event, this question was especially pressing, because the Ignite format is no joke: five minutes exactly with 20 auto-advancing slides every 15 seconds. Although I had done this before, I was sure I was a little nuts to be back at it.
It’s that little bit nuts that fuels my teaching though. And as I watched the rest of my fellow speakers charm and rally all of us that night five minutes at a time, I realized that the Ignite Ed Lab setup was the perfect format to share all of these “unexpected adventures in learning.” Teachers have stories to tell because working with kids means the material is nonstop. That, mixed with the illogical mix of empathy/idealism/and hyper-organized Type A tendencies this work requires, means we are exactly the kind of people who would volunteer to stand up in front of a room full of people and risk looking ridiculous under inflexible time constraints. We do exactly that every day in the classroom.
The best thing about opening Ignite Ed Lab was that I could breathe for the rest of evening and enjoy the moving/funny/heartbreaking/revolutionary talks from the speakers I shared the stage with that night. I was able to follow up with some of them. Here is what they had to say.
Washington State Teacher Leader, Puget Sound Educational Service District
Math Teacher, Seattle World School which is a public middle and high school primarily serving immigrant and refugee students
Ignite Ed Lab Talk: Getting Radical With Math
Why did you want to be a part of this event? “I watched previous Ignite talks and I wanted to have fun and share part of my passion from my classroom. I thought, hey, I have something to say about Social Justice in math that not everyone has heard.”
Executive Director, 21 Progress which is a nonprofit fostering young leaders and bold ideas
Ignite Ed Lab Talk: Black Eyes, Crossovers and Becoming a Man
Why did you want to be a part of this event? “I did Ignite Ed Lab to meet more educators and community leaders who are committed to innovation and justice because I believe we are stronger when we work together towards a common vision and to advocate for young people who I believe have the insight and will to make a difference when we support them as emerging leaders.”
Evergreen State College’s Distinguished Educator of the Year
Language Arts Teacher, Seattle Public School Catherine Blaine K—8
Ignite Ed Lab Talk: Diversity is uncomfortable! Diversity is awesome!
Why did you want to be a part of this event? “Teaching at times can be an isolating experience. I work at a school now that is pretty isolated. I used to work at a school that was highly collaborative, so this was a way to connect with others in the profession. And I really care about this issue: in times of resegregation, what are tangible ways to get different kinds of people to interact? This speech ups the stakes for me. Since I dedicated a lot of time to it, I feel obliged to do work to make sure action happens.”
Thank you to The Seattle Times Education Lab and Ignite Seattle for celebrating teacher voices and reminding us that the unexpected adventures are the most fun ones to learn from.
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