I found it … it only took a little over two hours … and I found it!
I did not have my metal detector, but I had even greater tool — curiosity. I wanted something I did not previously have and I wasn’t quite sure exactly what it was either.
For many educators, sometimes we don’t know what we are missing in our teaching repertoire. However, we know we want to get better for the benefit of our students and that takes some form of professional growth. I’ll admit, sometimes limited time is a huge obstacle in finding great professional development and not having the right “moments” of learning with the “right people” intrudes on teacher learning as well.
…and then I went to #EdCampMD
An “unconference” conference in Baltimore offered what I needed and gave me the opportunity to share a few nuggets of my own which I do exceptionally well. The Ed Camp model, coined by a group of dynamic educators in the Philadelphia area, is known for educators coming together and having informal conversations in rooms based on similar needs and wants. Fortunately for me, I had some knowledge on some topics, but I found others who were much smarter than I could ever image and they wanted to share it with me.
Many nights I spend Tweeting out to a number of regular Twitter followers and I feel connected to them, but I have never met them in person. The joke Jared Wastler (@jcwastler) continued to share is many of us only know one another from head to mid-chest as shown in a profile photo. However, during the sessions I managed to build relationships with many of them all while acquiring new ideas, contact information, and increased my network of colleagues who I can call on at anytime.
An argument I got from some of my colleagues prior to #EdCampMD was You are giving your weekend up to go to a conference without sessions known in advanced?.
I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to learn, but I knew a lot of people who were expected to be in attendance and have a lot of respect for them. I got to sit around and pick the brains of some of the best and brightest in the state of Maryland, and we all had a passion to learn something we could take back to our districts to immediately use.
One conversation with a colleague at EdCamp included: I want my teachers to come here and learn as much as possible. If they come back taking risks with their new knowledge other are going to see it and ask where did you learn that idea. Then they’ll get to hear that persons EdCamp experience and it will continue to grow making my teachers even better.
One of my biggest finds from EdCamp included the SmackDown session where individuals were allowed to get up and share one minute about an awesome education tool (i.e., app, book, activity, etc.). Some of the great items I heard were eye opening to some of the tools which I am not using in my classroom.
I got to sit in with a fellow in-county colleague Jon Harper (@Jonharper70bd) and hear about how he creates some of the greatest tearjerker type blogs. It amazed me how simple interactions with his children create these dynamic anecdotes which I often take for grant it in my own daily life. Furthermore, I felt the power of discussion as the group looked at alternative ways to share student artifacts through blogging experiences.
It is breathtaking to hear how many people want to take risk and put their students’ work out there for the world to see.
Another session I attended had EdCamp guru and executive director Hadley Ferguson (@hadleyjf). Hearing the story of how a small group of educators wanted to transform professional development and offer learning opportunities with their greatest resources — current teachers in their area — resonates with me. Speaking with other colleagues in attendance from my district, we all agreed the EdCamp format is too powerful to keep it to ourselves.
Look out in our district … the EdCamp format is coming soon.
Just Do It
All in all, I cannot express it enough, get out to an EdCamp near you soon. Here is a list of them in case you do not know where to find them.