We have many moments of quiet in my home, there are only two of us and two dogs so quiet is not hard to achieve, but then all of a sudden the ProjectMIST Skype chat starts beeping, beeping non stop, beeping at 12:04am on a school night. Oops, I need to point out that I do encourage students that they should be sleeping at this time, but when young people are passionate and they are focussed on their work there is no stopping their learning and the time they choose to learn. This last week has been just that, a week of noise, noise that is productive, conversations that go on into the night. The conversations vary, ranging from working out how to tweak things for the ProjectMIST server, problem solving around the launcher, considerations for the new spawn to the inner workings of personal servers. It is truly exciting and inspirational to see. In fact, when I am feeling a bit ho hum about things this is the one thing that puts a smile on my face. Seeing young people working together, supporting each other’s learning and just being, tinkering, playing and getting excited about their thing – Minecraft.
We are really lucky at ProjectMIST as we have one person who has been with us from the start and is always there, even at 12:04am. At this time of the day I am in bed asleep and the computer is asleep too, but Jo Kay is wide awake supporting the students where I can’t. Her support is extremely appreciated by the students and they demonstrate this through building replicas of her avatar on their own servers, one young man did this just the other night when she helped him out after he locked himself out of his server. This student has now just been accepted onto Massively @ Jokaydia Minecraft Guild and he is really excited to be able to build, learn and explore with others from all parts of the world.
Sometimes I feel like a bit of a fraud with this Minecraft stuff, as when I say that Jo Kay helps out where I can’t it is not just about weird times when these students get on Skype to chat. Jo has knowledge that I cannot even think of acquiring with regard to Minecraft especially with regard to building/running a server. She never gives the students the answers straight up, instead she takes them on a journey where they learn for themselves. She never takes over, yet is always there to pick up the pieces when we have a server meltdown (or meltdowns of the human kind). She has taught them so much about supporting a community of learners and what that means in the Minecraft setting. I have learnt so much from her too! For me it has been like team teaching, where the teacher I am working with is my mentor. It is a bit like being on an apprenticeship where I learn something new and different each day. Jo sees things that I miss and due to being respected for her gaming cred (of which I seem to find myself stuck on the newbie setting) the students openly seek out her approval and thoughts.
The other thing that really works having a partnership with someone who is not a teacher within our school, but who is well known for her skill and expertise in this area is that students share differently. The other night part of the conversation drifted to the past ProjectMIST server admins. In this discussion a student shared that they wanted to be just like one of our past server admins. Not sure they would have ever mentioned that to me. But how cool is it that I get to hear about it later – it made my day! It made me feel so proud of my students, to know that they are respected and looked up to by the younger ones in my class.To know that they are having a positive impact on each other.
Little note: Student who was up at 12:04am working on Minecraft now has strategies in place to ensure he is going to bed early on a school night – he came up with them himself :)
Photos by Mr Mancho.