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Having held the title of “Community Manager” and been directly involved in this work for a decade, you’d think I’d know more about the topic. The truth is I’ve been searching for a framework, structure or maybe a magic bullet the whole time. By many accounts and metrics, I’ve had success in this role. I can think of all the events, relationships and connections that I’ve made and fostered and feel pretty good. And yet, I still struggle with how to articulate what community really is and how it can be created, designed and how to grow and nurture it.
I suppose it’s much like teaching. Yes, there are many frameworks and strategies that can be useful ways to think about teaching but the reality is, teaching in schools is really about connecting with humans and that is something that comes with uncertainty and variables that are very difficult to control.
My current role with ALP includes a continued pursuit of building and creating community. It’s always a challenge to explain this to those inside the education world, let alone those outside it. I continually reflect on … Read the rest
Team sports have always been appealing to me. Playing hockey, baseball, football and basketball, I relished in what can be accomplished together but also being part of something outside of the competition. As a hockey and basketball player, I took as much pleasure in making a great pass as I did n scoring. Finishing is fun and scoring usually garners more praise and attention and I enjoyed that part but they beauty of two or more people acheiving success is special. Even as a spectator, individual performances are great but when you see people working together that’s beautiful.
Having spent nearly 8 years working around North America and beyond with Discovery Education, I had the privilege of working together with so many great people. I had a great deal of autonomy and did a lot on my own but always felt part of a team working towards a bigger goal. I supported many different people and many people supported me.
When I left Discovery Education in the fall of 2019, I had some decisions to make. I had a number of colleagues who were working as independent consultants and speakers. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that but also … Read the rest
Many people, including myself, have an aversion to the icebreaker. Too often it’s a somewhat disingenuous activity assuming that random people have a desire to connect with other strangers in a confined space when in reality they had no intention of doing anything other than listening to a presentation or at most working with people they already know.
You’ve probably been in that room where it’s just awkward. If you lean towards introversion, these experiences can be painful. If the speaker engages in a long setup of the activity, you either get up to use the restroom or pretend you have an urgent phone call and leave the room. (Confession, I’ve done both)
But when one of the goals of a meeting or gathering is to build community, then it can actually make sense and if done well provide purpose and context to the upcoming work or learning. At this point, it’s not an icebreaker but a learning activity.
I’m currently involved in coaching 4 school divisions in Virginia as a part of a larger initiative called VaLIN or Virginia … Read the rest