I am not gonna lie. It felt awkward sitting upstairs in a pub with about 15 others, laptops out and open, participating almost silently in a virtual chat. The quiet was purposeful. We were reflecting on reflecting and writing about it.
But we weren't just online with each other (which would have added strange and unusual to the awkwardness). We were chatting and writing and sharing with others from all over the world. We would have been quiet at home doing the same thing but we were in a social gathering place meant to foster face to face discussion.
Did this make a difference? As a matter of fact, all of us had done the same type of chatting weekly on #engchat and various other Twitter chats throughout the week. But this time some of us were physically together for the process and it just felt strange.
The group, both in the room and around the world, was led masterfully by Bud Hunt (@BudtheTeacher). He moved the discussion along online but also managed the process of those of us in the room through distractions, comments, late arrivals and more. It was great to watch and was further evidence to me of the importance and value of observing fellow teachers in action.
Except that this was a pub. But that didn't matter to Bud and because of that, it didn't matter to any of us in attendance either and probably wasn't noticed by those who were participating virtually. It was a great experience.
If Bud can pull it off in a pub, I can work to get my students (all male) to sit and write and reflect without awkwardness or distraction. If Bud can turn a pub (moments before Open Mic Night was to begin) into a classroom, I sure as heck should be able to turn my classroom into a similar place of reflection.