A Room with a (Digital) View. Exploring the #JoyFE #IdeasRoom

In October 2021, I attended my first #IdeasRoom on Zoom. I discovered the #IdeasRoom on Twitter as a result of submitting a poem to the #JoyFE magazine. The #IdeasRoom was more than just an #IdeasRoom. It is a part of #JoyFE – “Joyful Education💛 was founded by Stefanie Wilkinson and Lou Mycroft in the summer of 2020, following the momentum experienced in Covid-lockdown around the need for change in education. It is the enterprise arm of the non-profit movement and constellation, #JoyFE💛” (Joyful Education, 2021).

(Mars maths, 2021)

#IdeasRooms draw on the thinking of Nancy Kline and the idea of the thinking environment (Kline, 2020). What was really interesting was that “Nancy Kline purports that the quality of everything we do depends on the quality of the thinking we do first” (Hey Teach, 2021). I attended a presentation entitled JoyFE More than a hashtag at the OER Domains 21 conference in April 2021 delivered by Sammy White.

(White, 2021)

What is a room? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a room can be defined as “a part of the inside of a building that is separated from other parts by walls, floor, and ceiling” (Cambridge Dictionary, 2021). What is an #IdeasRoom? They are “…a one-hour, virtual space where efficient thinking happens, in an environment of encouragement, attention and ease. Everyone is welcome to join the #JoyFE💛 public Ideas Room at 8pm every Wednesday…” (Joyful Educatiom, 2021). It is possible to join an #IdeasRoom by sending a direct message to the @JoyfulFE Twitter account for the Zoom joining instructions.

“I have taken part in an ideas room more than 100 times and each time I have left feeling refreshed, ‘with my brain on fire’, inspired to do more. But this is a different kind of ‘more’. It is often an idea, turned into a project, that has been enriched by many other beautiful minds since its proposal in the first round of the #ideasroom”

(Mars Maths, 2021)

When you join the #IdeasRoom, it is important to use the camera. Participants share who they are and how they are. This is followed by identifying an idea that each participant has been thinking about. The ideas are shared in the chat and there is an opportunity to vote on the idea to discuss. Participants then go into breakout rooms where the main idea is discussed. Questions such as “What is live for you?” are asked and answered. When participants rejoin the main room, there is an opportunity to share ideas, praise others and reflect on how to embed ideas discussed in our own context.

“There is something beautiful about having a sense of purpose that guides you to send positive messages out into the world”

(Mycroft & wilkinson, 2021)

It was undoubtedly the case that I felt better after participating in the #IdeasRoom. It felt like I was able to listen in a constructive way and focus in a meaningful capacity. Sammy White identified generative listening in her presentation (White, 2021). One of my initial thoughts was to share the #IdeasRoom with the RAU and suggest using the approach with staff and students alike. If CPD was framed in this way, as a #ThinkingEnvironment, then perhaps it would be more joyful.

(@LouMycroft, 2021)

Benefits of #IdeasRooms:

  1. Inclusive environments
  2. No exclusive ownership
  3. Bring about positive change
  4. Opportunity to listen to others and be listened to
  5. Opportunity to focus
  6. Open environment
  7. Accessible environment
  8. Collaborative environment
  9. “Common feedback from people who attend the IdeasRoom include a refreshed outlook, excitement about the future, optimistic creative thinking and a buzz about feeling connected” (Joyful Education, n.d.).
  10. No hosts, just shared task-based facilitators (White, 2021)
  11. In the last three #Ideasrooms I attended, the facilitator stressed how “role, rank and ego” can be left out of the room. This can be a refreshing opportunity to enjoy ideas in a collaborative capacity.

In Sammy White’s presentation, a reference is made to floo powder from the Harry Potter films. An additional Harry Potter reference struck me as being relevant to #IdeasRooms – the Room of Requirement. If the wand chooses the wizard, then the room chooses the participants?

“The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter”

Mr. Ollivander, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

Lou Mycroft (@LouMycroft) facilitated the #IdeasRoom. She shared how time seemed to slow down in the room and I could definitely relate to this. In the OER Domains 21 presentation, she also discussed how #JoyFE was like “rhizomatic professional practice” and was similar to Rhizo14 (Mycroft, in White2021). “Communities of practice” are not new (Lave & Wenger, 1991: p89). However, #JoyFE is more than a community. As a collaborative community, perhaps the facilitators are like the “Keepers of Hope” (hooks, 2003: p105).

In future, perhaps Zoom Rooms could help to facilitate #IdeasRooms. Despite the fact that I do not work in FE, the #IdeasRoom is an inclusive #ThinkingEnvironment to bring all educators together. Perhaps we can from #JoyFE to simply #JoyE.

Bibliography

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Mars Maths (n.d.) Why turning up to an #ideasroom without an idea, is a good idea. https://www.marsmaths.com Education Blog. [blog] 27 February. Available at: https://www.marsmaths.com/why-turning-up-to-an-ideasroom-without-an-idea-is-a-good-idea [Accessed 17 October 2021]

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Mycroft, L [@LouMycroft] (2021, 13th October BEAUTIFUL CHILLED OUT #IDEASROOM WITH @ARCHANA68547279 @CHRISAFRIN @PIPMAC6 @AMBERTAYSMI #STEPOUTOFTIME EVERY FORTNIGHT #IDEASROOM FOLLOWS STRETCH AND RELAX CLASS TOO! I ALWAYS HAVE THE BEST NIGHT’S SLEEP AND WAKE UP BUZZING [Tweet]. Twitter. Available at: https://twitter.com/LouMycroft/status/1448379463960571908

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