Surrey, meet the DEN

“Connecting educators to their greatest resource….each other.”

That’s the core principle under which the Discovery Educator Network operates. The great thing is you never know what or how those connections are facilitated. This past week I was in Vancouver and have been impressed over the past while at the burgeoning online community of passionate, thoughtful educators and was excited to host an Evening of Discovery at a local establishment one evening. I was hoping to introduce some of these teachers to the community of DEN STARs that have been doing great things across Canada. What followed was a great time of sharing and connecting with both those visiting virtually and surprisingly, with those live in Vancouver.

As I’ve done on other occasions, I used Google Hangout to bring in educators from across the country. The challenge doing this in BC, is the time zone. Starting at 7:30 meant that folks in the Maritimes are pushing midnight. Yet three folks stayed up to share their work.

Ian Fogarty. Ian is an award winning science teacher from New Brunswick who has long been doing great work with students. Ian always gets some eyebrows raised when he mentions the 5 SmartBoards in his classroom. Rest assured, Ian is constantly seeking ways to create meaningful, authentic learning for his students. TwitterIan Fogarty

Just south of Ian is Shelly Tulloch. I shared some of her work last week. Shelly was working late on report cards but stayed to share the work she’s doing as part of a STEM school. Shelly’s colleague Craig Boyce was also up but was having microphone issues so he mostly shared via hand written messages that provided some levity. Craig actually stayed up till the evening was nearly over around 1:30 AM local time. TwitterShelly Tulloch and Craig Boyce

Moving west, we landed in Ontario where Brian Harrison shared some of the initiatives as Park Avenue Elementary School where teachers have been using video as assessment tools with iPads. TwitterBrian Harrison

In Ottawa, Julie Joanisse, talked about her students participating in the Global Read Aloud as well as her experience at DENSi where she forged many great connections. Twitter: Julie Joanisse

In Manitoba we caught up with Tammy Einarson who shared about her adventure in Churchill as part of the Polar Bear International partnership with Discovery. She also echoed Julie’s words about the awesomeness of DENsi where I’m hoping we’ll have a number of Canadians applying for this in the new year. Twitter: Tammy Einarson

In Saskatchewan, Kathy Cassidy told a story about the power of connection with her grade 1 and 2 students and a classroom in Australia. Kathy continues to exemplify was a truly connected educator looks like and gives back every chance she gets. TwitterKathy Cassidy

Just north of Kathy is where we met Sarah Thompson. Sarah has been a long time DEN STAR and is one of the most active STARs. She continues to look for new opportunities for her students at her First Nations school. There was an instant connection with the Surrey teachers as many have schools with high numbers of Aboriginal students. I look forward to watching some great connections emerge. TwitterSarah Thompson

Finally we finished our cross Canada tour of DEN STARs in Lethbridge Alberta with Jared Heidinger. Jared is becoming one of my favorite stories because of his unusual idea of a homework chopper. Everyone loves his story. TwitterJared Heidinger

While it was great to hear from the folks on Google Hangout, the conversations that occurred were also very powerful. In fact, it was two teachers who actually share a classroom that were most thankful for the gathering as they said they rarely get to see each other. A district as large as Surrey, means places like twitter become essential for community building. However, nothing beats the power of educators in a room, together sharing classroom practices. We heard some exciting efforts from courses being developed to service projects for the less fortunate to something called the genius hour. I was a quiet observer to the important discussions about possibilities and the pursuit of authentic, meaningful learner. To connect with many of these folks, search the hashtag #sd36learn

It was clear that on this evening I was able to connect them to their greatest resource. I anticipate continued growth of the DEN within Surrey and throughout the Vancouver/British Columbia area. I would love to have more schools and districts host these type of informal events. Let me know if you’re interested.

For anyone who’s heard complaints about teachers and education, I would have loved them to have been in Surrey on Thursday evening. They would have left energized and filled with hope at the quality, passion and thinking of this group of teachers.



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