Monday, February 16, 2015

Don't believe me just watch #cuerockstar #pennpanthers

I spent the last three days in Petaluma at the first #cuerockstar camp of 2015. This is my sixth rockstar in 3 years and we were lucky to be hosted by Amy Fadeji at her amazing school. The whole rockstar thing aside I could have spent three days walking around her school and taking in all of the little things. 

And all the time I was learning. Having fun. Getting fired up! Just watching the Twitter feed during the weekend was awesome- all of the sharing and connecting happening. 

After driving home last night, I watched the tweets for #caedchat as educators discussed the topic of professional development. Questions about what makes it great, the best format, the length of sessions, and even the conference location.

Thinking back on this weekend, we had two venues- a cool building downtown Petaluma for the night time Pecha Kucha event (think 6-ish minute keynotes), and Amy's elementary school. Both just right. Casual. A little crazy. Pecha Kuchas are a unique pre-party that only happens at the shorter rockstar events. Scary, but I love it!

Our Friday night event started with snacks and we were excited to get the Pecha Kuchas started at 6:00. Only one problem... half of our faculty were still on the road and stuck in traffic below the Golden Gate Bridge. With an ETA of 6:45.

We decided to just get started around 6:10 and hoped they would show up in time. I was still getting tweets and texts from the faculty about being late. "Don't worry," I said. "We'll see you when you get here." Around 6:40, horns honked outside. Our final two had arrived. What did the late arrivals do? Sit down? Relax? 

No way. 

They stepped up to the front, plugged in their computers and dove in. It all worked out. 

Mike Fenton said to me "I guess the vibe of this rockstar thing is different." Yes, yes it is. But it works. Why?

It has three things.

Purpose. Passion. And a plan.

What about presenters? Nope. We have people. Leading learning. For free. 
Rules? Nope. Those were broken all weekend. By design.
A fancy conference place? Nope. Just a rad elementary school with the right feel.


Start with the why. It's not about tech tools. Or Google. It's about connecting people. Inspiring leaders and learners. Telling your school's story-- on Twitter, with a photograph, or with a piece of wood and some zip ties. It's about critical thinking and reading and writing and learning. 

It's about getting people to dance with you literally and figuratively.

Just add an Uptown Funk dance video and Jenny Derby and you have a lunchtime dance party! First followers matter.

Take Michael Fenton. Math Teacher. First time rockstar faculty. This guy decided to change his whole session for Sunday, asked the audience what they wanted to learn, and ripped his shirt off in the shred session. Freaking AWESOME. He revamped his whole day at Lagunitas. The night before. 
Seriously- he reflected on his teaching and made changes that he implemented the next day. In front of 100 strangers.
Right before he ripped his shirt off. 

A plan.
The rockstar recipe is no secret. Start late. End early. Two hour sessions- time to learn and play. Two hour lunch- time to connect and reflect. Small group. Hands on. Collaborating. Creating. Communicating. Everyone is a learner. Everyone is a leader. Everyone- even the faculty. This camp, our faculty included principals, an assistant superintendent, coaches, teachers, and a director of innovation. Many first time faculty. Their most important job? Modeling risk-taking. Doing stuff that's scary. Learning on the fly.

How awesome would it be if we brought these ideas back to our classrooms? To our schools? 

I can't wait to see the tweets rolling out over the next few weeks and months as their story unfolds.

Don't believe me-- just WATCH! #uptownfunk


  1. Thank you for the impromptu morning session yesterday! The "no rules" rule certainly applied when we showed up in the am :)

    1. Thank you for coming! It was great to work with you! Looking forward to your blogs :) Enjoy your day!