Invited, ignited and inspired – that was #dojocon2013

Last January, James Crook asked me if would speak at Dojocon in March. As James never asks for anything without a reason that’s good for everyone in the universe, I couldn’t even consider a ‘no’ answer. And March seemed such a long time away then! (The wily James even gave me a title for the talk – ‘Putting the Children First‘. Mmm…not a title I would have chosen, but I stuck with it, and I think it worked really well in the end).

I headed across country to Drogheda on an unseasonally beautiful Friday afternoon, to an Ignite session in a great location called Brú. This was a great mix of mentors from Coderdojo all over the world, MC’d by Stephen Howell who had terrific intros and outros for each speaker. And the food was really good – twice! And there were no bulletpointed slides. And the speakers were fuelled by passion. And that wonderful moment (Hi Bobby!) when you meet someone IRL that you have only known via Twitter or a blog kept happening – what a feel good factor that generates! I liked the threads that wove through all the presentations – creative thinking, playing to your strengths, variety and challenge; it was like the presenters were reading my thoughts about learning. Any or all of the ‘Ignite’ presenters would be welcome in my classroom anytime – thank you all. bru

My CavanCodedojo cohort of Cara and Catherine and I stayed in the ‘D’, which was comical (and definitely NOT the ‘G’!). We were roomed right above the aftermath of a wedding, and obviously over the smoker’s outdoor retreat to judge by the overheard conversations. We had long conversations of our own discussing the ideas we had gotten at Ignite to add to CavanCoderDojo. (Is there a mentor cloning facility yet? That’s all we need really).

First thing next morning I had to skip off to a meeting of my other tribe, CESI. When I got to Slane Castle for the Saturday conference, lunch and learning were both in full swing. Apart from the incompatibility of Slane stairs and the height of my heels, everything I experienced for the rest of the day was wonderful. What did I love? Here are some things…..

The ‘Green Room’ for presenters – every event should have one; the atmosphere of sharing ideas with honesty and respect; the ‘audience’ at my afternoon session – some of the most receptive people I have ever spoken with; the room in which my session took place – comfy chairs and sofas for the audience, and a view across the river for me; meeting my college-days buddy and life long inspiration Speedie; the helpful and calm Louise (thanks for the technical wizardry); the ergomic program-on-lanyard, what a cool and useful idea; the poster for presenters to take away – awesome idea and very much appreciated (thanks Graham); the way my various tribes seem to be merging these days, all with the same aim of promoting creative thinking for our kids; the inspirational story told by Kimberly Bryant of encouraging young girls of colour into the world of coding; the energy and synergy and positive possibilities for the future; the fun; and the happiness reflected in this picture tweeted by Cara:

Screen shot 2013-05-12 at 15.41.13

I can report that we have begun to develop some of the ideas gathered – our last #cavancoderdojo session was a STEM afternoon of Forensic Science investigation hosted by the 3rd level students in Cavan Institute for our Primary and Secondary level ninjas. We have also joined in at #dojochat which is going to be a great resource for mentors worldwide.

So thanks all #dojocon2013 organising team for the inspiring, thanks Stephen for the igniting, and above all thank you James Crook for the inviting.

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