These last few weeks has been a strange time for everyone, as we move into a new normal our sense of what is important has changed. Despite this being a difficult time, it has also allowed us time to reflect, to learn, to make new connections and to try new skills. When not in school or sorting online learning, I have been immersing myself in Twitter. Living on my own, I have found my online family has had a great importance and support to me - people have shared not just resources but thoughts, moments (sad and happy) and their hopes for the future. I have tried to create a small community through hashtags such as #NotGoingAnywhereApril, and one of my favourite times of the week is #TwitterMovieNight.
It was on one of my walks to the shops that I was thinking about Twitter and Primary Rocks, and how this situation has seen cancellation of conferences everywhere. One of the best things about these conferences is the connections that are made, the buzz and enthusiasm that being at something like Primary Rocks brings to those who attend. It makes us go back to work on the Monday with a renewed vigour and a head full of ideas.
It was while thinking about this that #BrewEdIsolation came to mind. I had been talking to Ed Finch quite a bit and I had seen a platform called StreamYard used effectively by Mark Anderson for his weekly chat show. Why can’t we use this new technology to live stream an educational event over a day? Invite guests to speak and model it around the #BrewEd idea of not just enjoying the presentations, but interacting, challenging and also enjoying a drink or two in the comfort of your own home.
I got home and messaged Ed with my idea, and #BrewEdIsolation was created. What has been wonderful about the day is that it not only allowed people to see some amazing speakers sharing some wonderful ideas but it allowed people to connect again, it gave them a renewed interest in teaching and it helped many people with their wellbeing. It also bought out the great side of #EduTwitter, with people like Colin Grimes creating a website for the day and Ben Brown spending an eternity cutting and slicing the original video into chunks and creating a YouTube channel. Not to mention the people that gave up their time to present and those that watched, engaged and shared their comments and thoughts. Amazing!
So, onto our next project: that difficult second album. What can we do to build upon the excellent first #BrewEdIsolation? We knew that the tech worked, so why not go global?
For #GlobalBrewEdIsolation, we want to hear from educators all over the world. We want to hear about their passions, their problems, their thoughts. We want to be able to bring educators to #GlobalBrewEdIsolation that you couldn’t get in your local #BrewEd (not without it costing a fortune). So Ed and I have drawn up a list of fantastic global educators that we are contacting, and I am already excited about the names that have agreed to speak. It will give our conference a global flavour, it will allow you to hear and experience educators that you may not have heard before and it will hopefully help you to create more connections, this time of the global variety.
Now what do we do for the third album? #UniverseBrewEdIsolation?
Community thoughts on #BrewEdIsolation:
“It wasn’t the circumstances under which I thought I’d be attending my first ever #BrewEd. The legendary sing-a-longs and chances to meet and bond with the like minded of #EduTwitter was a huge draw - and the opportunity to hear incredible professionals’ takes on education, making me think and challenge my practise. Speaking in a room full of people would have been bad enough - but at least I could have caught the sympathetic glances, smiles of polite encouragement, and the unspoken support of everyone urging you to do well.
“Speaking online, with no-one to look at other than my reflection in the monitor screen was worse - was I speaking for no-one to hear? Were people judging my dated spare room decor and lack of visible bookshelves? How was my very personal story coming across? Speaking about my inner feelings has never been something I’ve found easy. Naming my emotions to myself behind the simplistic language of ‘angry - sad - happy’ is extremely new. Trying to put across to anyone else how broken and alone I felt articulate, without crying, and trying to put a positive, inspiring slant on it was my own personal Everest.
“Afterwards, I felt such a release. Reading back the comments made me weep. I was on such a high that I couldn’t really sleep that night, waking to beam with pride. Would I attend #BrewEd again? YES. Would I tell my story again? YES YES YES!” - Lucy Flower
“My first BrewEd event! I nodded, smiled, laughed, made new connections and learned loads. Just what I needed! The whole team did so well, and I’m now working out how I can offer a live event like this to our school communities. - John Taylor
“What happens when everyone is in lockdown? #BrewEdIsolation. #BrewEdIsolation for me was a fantastic opportunity to learn from a wide spectrum of educators on so many different topics. As a presenter, the nerves were there. Would the technology fail? Did what I have to share resonate with others, or would it be relevant to their context?
“I have to say I have taken so much from the day and being able to watch back the sessions has allowed me to understand more clearly what was shared in that marathon of an event. The online format gave the familiar format of a Twitter educhat an extra dimension. Graham as host made both the viewer and the presenter feel at ease, and the lunchtime entertainment from Graham and Ed was enjoyed by the whole family. In fact through the day as I followed on, my family were also listening in and engaging, particularly my son looking out for his Lego creation appearing to a wider audience. Looking forward to the next BrewEd.” - Mark Boylan