What’s my Possible?

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Last week I participated in my first Ignite session as a speaker. It was a very inspiring night with a host of wonderful ideas being shared. This blog post is what I presented over 5 minutes (20 slides set at 15 seconds each).

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I used to live in Kitsilano and while I was there the phenomenon of speed dating was emerging. Short conversations, people looking for connection but not the whole night commitment of a full date if it wasn’t the right fit. You just had to wait a few minutes for the bell to ring for the next round of dating. I never had a chance to actually do speed dating but…

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It got me thinking, I wished Pro-D was more like speed dating. I wish Pro-D had less commitment – away from that whole day, one idea philosophy because come on, we have all been there, an hour in and wishing that we were somewhere else. This applies equally to dating and Pro-D experiences.

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Then I met this man, Sir Ken and his learning revolution. I had a wickedly inspiring 19 minute relationship with Sir Ken that struck a chord, planted the seed of an idea and took me on a journey into a series of short-term relationships. I was speed dating!

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From the TEDTalks I watched I was gathering “ideas worth spreading” that impacted my views on education and life. I was fascinated by not only the ideas, but by the presentation of those ideas and this led me to changing the way I had students share ideas and present their learning in the classroom.

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 7.27.14 AMEventually I wanted more and an idea for organizing a TEDx event began to grow. I knew you could hold them so I began to explore my options. Would it be a class of students? Held in a gym? Just students? Adults and students? Ed related? Lots of questions and lots of….

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and that’s the perfect place to be. I often show my students a blank piece of paper at the beginning of the year and ask them what it is. They cautiously put up their hands and respond “paper”. Literally yes, but more importantly it is a possibility – their possibility. I can be whatever they want it to be.

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And so for me, once I had the idea my paper began to fill and EdCamp Delta was a big part of this. What a great event for commitment phobics! A series of short sessions that run over the course of a day with the understanding that you can just walk out of the session if you’re finding it isn’t a good match.

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While at EdCamp I began a few conversations, but the TSN Turning Point was when I shared my idea with Cari Wilson. The conversation began a connection because Cari was in. She was hooked and wanted to be part of the journey. I had “picked up” a partner while professionally speed dating!

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This speed dating was quickly turning into a series of committed relationships before I knew what was happening. Within a month our team of Cari, Brooke and Garth was formed and we took TEDxWestVancouverED from idea to event in 6 months. It was glorious!

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May 13, 2013 TEDxWestVancouverED came to life. Our goal was to share ideas on how educators were rethinking education in classrooms and schools. West Van is an innovative district and we wanted the stories and ideas to be known so we could further plant seeds of innovation here and beyond.

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We have exposed people to different ideas and celebrated what is possible, provocative and inspiring in public education because let’s face it, sometimes public education gets a raw deal in how it is perceived. TEDx is as much about inspiring others, as it is about showcasing all that is good in public education.

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Being smart and provocative isn’t enough though. Just like with dating, people want to be made to feel special and so for us, the event space is as important as the ideas. For that reason we have connected with a host of partners to ensure all those who come feel valued and feel like the professionals they are.

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And hey, if there is an idea you that you like and you want to see it again, you can “stalk” it for years to come. We have over 90,000 views of our videos and they have been shown all over the world. We create a one day event but it isn’t about just that one day, our ideas have the power to spread for years to come.

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TEDxWestVancouverED is about connection:

Connecting ideas being shared to some of your own;

Connecting to ideas you haven’t even considered;

Connecting to other Participants and expanding your network;

Connecting to personal stories;

Connecting to the possible.

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This year’s theme is Going Beyond as are “refreshing” our approach to Rethinking Education. So stories of Going Beyond classroom walls, Going Beyond conventional wisdom, Going Beyond current mindsets, and Beyond expectations. As organizers we are also pushing ourselves to Go Beyond our comfort zone!

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We have over 16 diverse speakers delivering 4, 8, 12, and 18 minute talks. Boston, Oregon, Edmonton, West Van, Great Van – aboriginal issues, entrepreneurship, competition, apps, inquiry, making and making a difference – these are some of the stories to be shared. Along with the answer to “what is success?”

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Conversation, Connection and Possibility. These have been the ingredients of our success in moving a small idea into a big reality. It’s also what sparks and Ignites innovation in schools and should be what’s fostered in student learning.

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Come be inspired on September 26. Speed date some ideas that may be absolutely new, or nurture the seed of an idea you already have. Come join Cari, Garth, Chris, Jo-Anne and myself and create a lasting relationship with one of more ideas.

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So, what’s possible?

I don’t really know but what I do know is that Sir Ken was right. An hour can feel like 5 minutes and when it does there is no better place to be. It is where you are at your best so ask yourself, what are you doing when that feeling happens and why aren’t you doing it more?

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By the time TEDxWestVancouverED ends this year that blank piece of paper will completely full. On September 27 I’lll wake up in the morning, pull out another blank piece and we will begin another journey into the possible.

Thank you.

TEDxWestVancouverED tickets will go on sale this week. Watch our Facebook and Twitter accounts for announcements!


  1. Lovely post Craig. Speed-dating – (unfortunately) never tried it but in the edtech world we have something similar – speed-geeking. Basically sharing great ideas and useful tools to do with integrating tech in the classroom.

  2. Wow. What an inspiring way to share your recent pro-d experiences. You’ve certainly ignited me to get a bit more proactive! And I hope to be at the next tedxwestvan and I’ll admit that not going to this years is one of my two big pro-d regrets from this year. Great sharing what your possible has been, is, and will be!!

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