My First Creative Coffee Evening was a HIT!!

In summary, creative cultures:

seem to centre on passion, purpose, play and the inherent value of sharing, even if the benefit of doing so isn’t immediately realised.

(INF536 Module 5.3 Course Notes)

And so we were asked to explore creative culture by hosting our own version of a Coffee Morning…

I searched for any local TEACH MEET sessions I could attend and found one (TeachMeet Northish 2014 – no agenda, held at a local private K-12 school, to be held in October).  I signed up for it and after initially thinking “No,  I’ll just observe for the first one”, I had a change of heart (reflecting on my learning from INF530 about PLNs only being as good as the contributions that are made to them), so  thought “Go for it.  I have some good stuff to share that I think people would enjoy hearing”, so volunteered to do a 7 minute presentation.  I am also going to attend the TeachEat at a local pub afterwards recognising that conversations will no doubt continue there, accompanied by good food and wine.

I’m also contemplating registering to be part of our local “Business in Heels” group after reading about them in my local paper last week, as I think it could be valuable to share ideas with women in small businesses in my local community.   It is important to step outside of the 4 walls of our classrooms, outside the walls of our school, outside the education sector, and share ideas ABOUT education with other industries, and bring back ideas from them TO the education sector.   This course is making me see DESIGN IDEAS everywhere I go (I was taking photos at a coffee shop I was at this morning) and taking note of various DESIGN THINKING OPPORTUNITIES I could be a part of…it’s creating a monster!!!

Most creative coffee mornings are started in an ad hoc fashion, with close or existing online contacts of a principal driver

(INF536 Module 5.3 Course Notes).

This was certainly my reality, as I emailed a variety of people I know from different walks of life to a “creative coffee evening” in my home – HSC student, pre-service teacher, 3 of my teaching colleagues (a Yr 6 teacher, ESL teacher and Learning Support teacher), librarian, scientist, musician, church secretary, retired couple, emergency nurse, university student (studying Bachelor of IT).    I really wanted a variety of perspectives from within and beyond the education sector, and also across genders and generations.

I did not go in with a planned agenda, as I wanted to see how the evening would organically evolve, and I must admit this made me feel a bit uncomfortable.  Several of the participants expressed nervousness as they arrived, and asked if there was a set agenda, to which I replied “No”.  I did start the session with the Edinburgh Coffee Morning video on our Apple TV, to give everyone a sense of what a Coffee Morning/Evening was, then I shared a graph about creativity that I was introduced to last year by Dr Yong Zhao at a conference I attended, and then I just asked the question “So what do you think?”

The evening flowed from there.  Several of the participants mentioned how much they enjoyed the evening – one (who was actually fairly quiet throughout the conversations) said she wanted to just stay and keep sharing.  Another one who I saw a few days later once again commented on how much he had enjoyed the evening.  It was very intellectually stimulating talking about job satisfaction and passions and creativity with other people, and hearing how people in different careers were expressing their creativity in their jobs, or alternatively feeling frustrated with bureaucratic hoops they had to jump through that took them away from their core business which is what they are passionate about in the first place (eg. the scientist who spends 2 months each year writing grant applications, taking him away from his research; or the A&E nurse who has to complete form after form to attract funding for patients seen in Emergency, rather than spending more time interacting with the patient as a human rather than a series of conditions).

Some participants had not used Twitter before, so those who had an account helped to sign them up.  Others had an account which they hadn’t used in years.  Here is a sample of some of the twitter conversation from the evening:

I displayed the tweets on our Apple TV using Twitterfall, which proved very entertaining for some of us.

The evening has made me see the value of informally chatting with different people about creativity and personal passions.  The coffee and wine and food helped to add to the informality of the gathering, and I think that was important.   I now look forward to the TeachMeet I have signed up for in October even moreso, and am keen to find some local Coffee Morning that I can attend on a regular basis, to have this type of conversation with people outside of education also.  I want to meet with like-minded people, to learn from them and with them.

One thought on “My First Creative Coffee Evening was a HIT!!

  1. The approach that Graham and I adopted sounded similar to yours. We too started with the Edinburgh Coffee Morning which I think put people at ease. I too had a request for an agenda a few days prior to the meet. We are so used to being immersed in such an organised and corporate world that I suspect hinders creativity somewhat. I think school and work life hinders creativity by being so structured and predictable. So, any attempt to break away from that structure has got to be a positive thing.

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