Networking for Educators!
Yesterday I attended my first edcamp Oshkosh and what an amazing experience. But it wasn't just attending the sessions at the edcamp that made me take stock of my journey as an educator. As I get to sit here with the momentary peace and tranquility of a new day, I am flooded with so many examples of why yesterday was a powerful experience in my career.
While yesterday was the first time I attended an edcamp at Oshkosh, it wasn't the first one I have participated in. I want to pause for a second because I chose the word participate rather than attend because edcamps are different than conferences. Edcamps allow you to be engaged in the conversation because their typically isn't a single expert controlling the conversation. In edcamps all are invited to share, question, discuss and contribute their expertise.
So beyond the participation aspect, what made yesterday so special? It was the people I met, interacted with, and that fact that I felt like I was making a positive difference in the field of education. Well let's start at the beginning, I have struggled with not feeling connected for years, especially juggling the expectations of teaching, coaching, and then family. I needed help to improve my teaching and through a chance encounter I found it. And that is what brought me to edcamp Oshkosh yesterday.
About a year ago, while looking for course resources, I came across Reuben Hoffman's website, an incredible site for content and technology resources. I contacted him and through the course of conversations he encouraged me to get on Twitter, check out the educational chats, and connect with Dave Burgess, the author of Teach Like A Pirate. If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you know that I followed his advice and am now a huge supporter of the ideas of TLAP.
This brings me to the edcamp yesterday. I attended a session on TLAP with Andrea Kornowski @andreakornowski. She is an amazing science teacher who has a great sense of humor even though she aims most of her jokes at my expense. Andrea and I ended up facilitating this session and it is here that I had my first really cool moment of professional development. It was my epiphany moment if you will. The conversation started out with teachers sharing their connection to the ideas of TLAP and lessons they have used in their classrooms. Then two teachers walked in who had never heard of TLAP and weren't on Twitter yet. It was this conversation that impacted me so much yesterday. As a group we introduced the ideas of the book but more importantly, the collective, collaborative efforts of educators who support each other via Twitter. I gave them a quick tutorial on Twitter showing them how to navigate and connect. I shared with them my story of getting connected and so many examples of how those connections have impacted my teaching and my connection with colleagues and most importantly my students. They left that session and decided to go to the next session on Twitter for Beginners.
I saw one of the teachers later that day, and he told me he had his account set up and was ready to go. But more importantly, he was excited about sharing resources. During our initial conversation we discussed the sharing of lessons, ideas, and feedback that comes through a connected PLN. Before he left, he wanted to make sure he shared some examples of things he used in his classroom that he thought would be useful to me. That action on his part made me take notice. As teachers we want to share our knowledge with others, we want to help others grow and get better. The other revelation of that interaction is that he was a lot like me a little over a year ago. I had never heard of Twitter as an educational tool. I never knew edcamps existed. I was struggling to be the effective teacher I wanted to become.
Today I am a connected educator who has become part of an amazing PLN. I was able to meet some of those members face to face yesterday, and add new people as well. I met Kelly Moehn in our TLAP session and Oliver Schinkten for the first time face to face. It is an incredible experience to meet people who you have only previously talked to on social media. The in living color is so much better. The energy and passion that shines through is incredible. I added some new members to my list of PLN as well, and look forward to learning and growing with them.
The edcamp was an awesome experience, but my day of learning didn't end there. I had sent a Tweet out earlier in the week looking for some ideas for ipad apps. I was fortunate to get a number or responses, but one stood out. Victoria Olson @MsVictoriaOlson asked if I wanted to do a GHO to talk about the apps. If you don't know Victoria, she is an amazingly passionate, positive and driven educator. I have seen her grow so much as an educator. She has become a well respected presenter and amazing source of technology information. She is also a big reason why I started blogging. Last summer she wrote about why teachers should blog and well you can blame her for having to read all of my random ramblings. Our conversation was enlightening. I was amazed not only at how many apps and technology resources she was able to share with me, but how many different ideas she had for implementation. I have pages of notes from our conversation.
My day of learning is almost done. After putting my kids to bed, I got on Twitter and found #SBLCHAT standards based learning chat. I found myself drawn to the conversation about grading, expectations, and motivation. I was intrigued by the group of educators looking at transforming the grading system, measuring students by their progress and growth and finding different systems of measurement than grades. It was a powerful conversation that I look forward to joining again.
I know this post is like a diary entry, but what connects all of these events for me is both the technology and the people. If I didn't have the technology to find Reuben Hoffman's website I wouldn't have taken my first steps on this journey. If it wasn't for the people who I connected with through the technology I wouldn't have continued on this path. What I have learned about myself is that I am no longer alone in this journey. I have an amazing PLN! I am a follower of some great educational leaders, and I am becoming an educational leader in my own way.
So I shared this post earlier today, then had a great conversation tonight with some educators about the power of Twitter and the impact it can make on our lives. Finally got home and had a DM from Andrea Kornowski who I mentioned earlier, who shared the video below that sums up the idea of Twitter, collaboration and the amazing educators who want to connect to revolutionize education! Thanks Andrea and all who are in my PLN!