Reflections on NCCAT FLL Start-up Teams AKA An Open Letter to the Wind…. | NCCAT

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Reflections on NCCAT FLL Start-up Teams AKA An Open Letter to the Wind….

We really appreciate NCCAT participant Collyn Gaffney sending us this piece she wrote about our recent program "LEGO Robotics: A Quick-Start Program for New Robotics Coaches" in Cullowhee. Thanks to her and eveyone who took part!

Beyond fond childhood memories of my brother’s selfishness and the occasional opportunity to design, create, and build when he was away, I have no interest in Legos. Yet, surprisingly enough, life comes full circle, I find myself unwittingly nose-deep in all that is FLL, and there is no escape.

And just as my childhood Lego experience taught me about sharing (or lack-there-of), creativity, curiosity, and frustration, so does my adult Lego experience.

FLL Core Values tell us “We know our coaches and mentors don't have all the answers; we learn together.” This, in a nutshell, is what I learned at NCCAT this week.

Over 3 days, I watched a room of nervous, anxious, timid educators go from “I don’t know and I hope no one notices” to “Oh my gosh! ME, TOO!” Languid exchanges of forced smiles transformed into ardent conversations of educational politics, student struggles, and creative solutions. We slowly moved from “So, where are you from?” into “I KNOW! I KNOW! I have the same problem!”

I met college professors who were more than willing to share their expertise and very inquisitive; “So, what, exactly, is this Common Core thing?” I found experienced, veteran teachers who are still working under the fear that they might be found out they are not the expert.

Which leads me to this: In my childhood, when the Legos were so needlessly hoarded away from me, I was left alone, feeling powerless and abandoned. In my adulthood, with more Legos than I ever thought imaginable, as an educator I often feel powerless and abandoned, still. The difference is now, I have a choice. Instead of isolating myself in the depths of my curriculum and standards, I need to reach out, take the risk, and invite others to play Legos. Re-imagining the possibilities of cooperative, open, and sincere sharing allows for greater designing, creation, and building of all that is - and is to be - NEAAAT.


Collyn Gaffney

NE Academy of Aerospace and Advance Technology

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