Blog: EDTalks Kick-off Event: Kidblog + Immigrant Students

EDTalks participants

Last night I spent the evening at our first-ever EDTalks. EDTalks was an idea our Community Engagement team came up with to help Twin Cities professionals get more interested and engaged in public education issues. A team of five terrific partners—which also includes the Citizen’s League, DRIVE Emerging Leaders of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber, Twin Cities Public Television and Young Education Professionals of the Twin Cities—worked hard to plan our kick-off event.

EDTalks had a very different feel than the forums we’ve hosted in the past.  The lounge-y atmosphere of Honey (below Ginger Hop in Northeast Minneapolis) made for a relaxed vibe very conducive to socializing, and the charisma of our emcee—Jay Gabler of the Twin Cities Daily Planet—got the audience laughing and helped give comedic coherence to the whole event.  Our goal was to promote discussion of education amongst those don’t usually come to more formal gatherings, and in that we definitely succeeded.  

Matt Hardy, founder of Kidblog, and Uriel Rosales Tlatenchi, board chair of NAVIGATE, each shared a very compelling story. Matt described his journey from the early-Internet world of the classroom—where he lugged home piles of student notebooks every night—to his founding of Kidblog, an innovative cloud-based platform that allows students to write—and more importantly, publish—their work.  Matt’s point about the lack of emphasis on publishing in traditional writing classes really hit me.  I loved to write when I was younger (and still do) and did my assignments because they were, well, assignments. But imagine how much more exciting it might have been to share my work with a wider audience than just my teachers and parents. Check out the video of Matt's presentation.

Uriel told a fascinating story about his journey from his family’s farm in Mexico across the U.S. border when he was just nine years-old. He described how he never actually articulated the fact that he was an undocumented student until he was rushed to the ER during an acute asthma attack, and had to explain his story to the nurse.  Uriel made a strong case for getting rid of the term “illegal immigrant” and for more training for educators who interact with undocumented students who may or may not want to share their entire life story.

What sticks with me most about last night was how much fun I had both planning and attending the event. As an organizer of the event, it didn’t feel stressful or overwhelming and I was actually able to kick back with my Diet Coke and hummus platter and enjoy the evening.  Partly this was due to the gracious hospitality of our hosts at Honey who took care of everything, but it was also because the team of folks who came together to create this event were both extremely competent and a lot of fun to work with.  I’m excited to start doing it all over again as we plan for our next EDTalks in February!