Do you send out invites to your parties, or do you just hope people hear about them through word of mouth and just show up? Unless you still live at a college frat house, chances are you send out invites. The invitations are an important part to any successful party. Without them, people don't know when, where, or even if there is a party. And it could be the best party ever, but no one would know without the invitations.
Earlier this year, few of my colleagues and I went to a Breakout EDU workshop. It was something we all had a strong interest in, and something that we were excited to try when we got back to school. But then, something terrible happened. We all went back to work the next day, closed our doors, and started teaching in our own self-induced, solitary confinement classrooms. What we were so excited and energized about doing (and something that required communication and collaboration), faded away as quickly as the next day came.
A few weeks went by, and I kept looking at my Breakout EDU kit that was sitting in my room since I had received it from attending the workshop. To be honest, as cool as that black, spy-looking kit looked, it was also a bit intimidating. All those locks with all those Breakout EDU games were a little overwhelming. The box was unlocked and I was still unsure whether I could break out of it or not. Then I started thinking about my colleagues who attended the workshop with me. I sent an quick email, or invitation, asking if they would like to do a Breakout EDU game together with my 6th grade math class. Everyone quickly responded with a, "YES!" That was it. That was all that was needed in order to get this party going. A simple email inviting others to join in. So, we all eagerly got together at the end of the day on Friday of that week, determined which game to do, picked a day to do it the following week, and took our kits home for the weekend to set up. We met briefly Monday to iron out any issues we encountered from the weekend with our kits, and then again at the end of the day Tuesday to get the room set up for our Breakout EDU game the next day. The next day, the day of the Breakout EDU game, we all adjusted our schedules to be there for the party.
Now, a couple of things. First, we made time to meet. It wasn't a hour or even a half hour. We didn't request time from our principal to let us met. We just made time. It was 5 minutes here, 15 minutes there. But that time allowed us to connect and share our ideas, struggles, and excitement. Second, nothing goes the way you plan it out in your head, and this proved true once again in our planning. One of teachers accidentally locked another teacher's directional lock and had forgotten the combination to open it. Things happen, and I am glad this did happen. It allowed us to troubleshoot and problem solve together. It allowed us to come up with a solution so things like this don't happen again. Sounds eerily like a real-world situation and in school, no less! So now, when we share out Breakout EDU experience with other teachers, we can give them some preventative measures so they don't end up making the same mistakes.
We create our own self-induced, solitary confinement classrooms more than we realize. Many teachers meet briefly with colleagues at lunch, at recess, or as they walk in and out of school, and unless we are willing to send out invitations to our colleagues and make time with them, we will continue to be isolated in our classrooms. Teaching can be a lonely profession if we let it, or it can be a profession filled with collaboration, communication, creativity, and cake. So send out invitations. Get some parties going with your colleagues in your classroom. Everyone loves a good party, but you just have to invite them.