Monday, June 17, 2013

Our Year in Review

Hello Friends!
Wow! Well years fly by and this one has been no different! Though online years somehow seem much longer than IRL years somehow- how is that exactly? Anyway, lets take some time to think back and reflect on all that we have done this year.....

Our two biggest points of new business on Kinderchat this year were launching the rotating Rainbow Moderators and starting a second chat time for our European/African time zone friends. Both were huge structural endeavors we undertook to help us grow both in reach and in developing leadership.

The rotating Rainbow Moderators worked beautifully. Everyone stepped up to the plate and brought more to the table than Amy and I ever could each week. Your topics were fresh, relevant, exciting and always showcased the profession and expertise of teaching and learning. If you could, please take a minute to add a word of personal Thanks to the many who offered their time this year to lead us through topics, greet everyone at the chat and prepare questions, links and references throughout the chat.

Next year, we will be freshening up the topics, so be on the lookout this summer for the updates along with the application form to be a Moderator! Shy? Don't be! It's a great way to build skills and make friends!

The next point of business was launching the Kinderchat 2: Electric Avenue! :D We still don't have a catchy name to distinguish the additional chat, but we are working on it! I have to say starting a whole second chat time was more than I bargained for, but well worth the hard work. We decided to start this chat time as we had one dedicated Kinderchat-ter who would wake up at 2AM in England to talk with us at our regular chat time. As we have always had a global perspective and outreach on Kinderchat, we decided to start a second chat time so that friends wouldn't have to set alarm clocks in the middle of the night to know us! Kinderchat 2 launched in September of 2012.

The time difference proved tricky right from the start as it had me racing back from car duty to get to the 8:30PM London time start time- which is 3:30 in the afternoon for me! I've since found my mojo in thinking it's actually the perfect time- tea time!

I never expected such a large learning curve with the second chat offering. First off, it was a little lonely. All the "regular" Kinderchat-ters were in school. In the very beginning, I think there were one or two times I was filling plenty of "dead-air" and ever so grateful when @TeacherMeg and @Fr_Immersion98 popped in. Finding "Early Years and Reception Teachers" was hard. And then I had to learn to speak not only French, but Portugese, Swedish and Bulgarian. Realizing I had to learn 400 languages made me feel better about my Americanism of only knowing one, and we soon were learning to weave google translate into the chat.

I say "we" because at some point @blamehound found us, or we found her, I'm not sure! :D She was lovely, FAB and fun and quickly became my partner in crime. She has rallied Reception and Early Years teachers from all over England to come to the #Kinderchat. I am ever so grateful for her hard work, her laughter and her spirit of "knowing" what the Kinderchat is all about. Our classes quickly became buddies online as well, as Nicola quickly got us trading "Bertie Bear" among England, US and Canadian classrooms.

Other big news was the launching of "The Campfire" Webinar Series with Mardelle aka @learningmurd as a way to showcase our guests. We featured a wonderful array of speakers and experts in the field of teaching and early learning, namely: Katie Keier on Writing, Jonathan Mugan on Early Learning, Karen Wohlwend on Play Based Learning, Kathy Cassidy on Global Learning and Integrating Technology, and everyone's favorite, Lisa Murphy aka OoeyGooeyLady, fielded questions on Early Childhood and had everyone just busting out laughing around the Campfire. Congratulations to Mardelle Sauerborn on this fantastic project! We can't wait to see you at the Campfire again in September!

Back in January, Amy had us blogging like crazy as we faced the NaBlaPoMo Blog Challenge. I'm still tired from that- I'm not sure how she did it! (I promise I will finish pinning everyone who blogged on our Blog Challenge Pinterest board yet this summer!) It was a fantastic experience as we heard from so many incredible folks who work with Young Children. The experience of writing about our work is such a critical piece of reflection and practice, it must stay central to the job of teaching and learning with Young Children. Amy's leadership and focus on writing is simply put, inspiring. Congratulations to her as she moves out of the classroom full-time and into a full-time leadership position at her school.

We can't leave out talking about MATT! Wow! He sure skyrocketed this year! He hosted PBS Kids on the hashtag and led a massive team of fabulous moderators for our Tech topics. Congratulations to him on his speaking gigs and the launch of his blog and be sure to CHECK OUT THE AMAZING SYMBALOO MIXES! Over 45+K! that's THOUSAND! 45+ THOUSAND downloads. He and Michelle Hiebert aka @MauiMickey and @Fr_Immersion98 had classrooms all over the world dancing, reading, doing math, playing and speaking French with the wonderful array of Symbaloo mixes they made for #Kinderchat. The children LOVED them and it is an INVALUABLE tool for any and EVERY classroom.

On a sad and scary note, our community faced challenges as we cried together after the Newton shootings. I know each one of us looked at our classrooms and kids differently after that. We found support and strength from each other. We continue to offer that support and strength to our own @MegUnger as she needs us as she leads her child through cancer and @HulseAnnMarie as she leads her daughter through diabetes. Meg found out this news shortly after she and @MauiMickey ran a wonderfully successful #EdCampKinder in Abbotsford for teachers in their local district. #TeamLiam and #TeamTeagan are in our hearts and minds Meg and Ann-Marie, as you make this journey.

Wow- It's strange at how you think you aren't doing enough and then you look and say "WOW!" that's actually a ton for one year! So Kinderchat, hold onto your hats, or toques or whatever ya got- we are flying high! :D

Have a fantastic summer and see you all in September! Be on the lookout for blogging challenges throughout the summer! Our second chat time will continue though mid-July as their school year is longer, so join us if you like! As always, the hashtag will be hoppin'!