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#EdCampLA Reflections

EdCampers at the session board.

Have you ever had a week like this? Something awesome happens that gets you excited about life and your general direction. Then you spend the next few days riding the wave of good feelings only to have them rudely interrupted by a slew of unforeseen events that force you out of your usual routine. It’s like you’re enjoying your favorite dessert and then, on the last bite, your tooth is broken. You spend the next week nursing a sore mouth but still thinking about how wonderfully delicious that dessert was. This past week has been  like that. I won’t go into details but my awesome event in this story was EdCampLA and I’m still thinking about how great it was.

I’ve posted about EdCamps before here and you can read even more at the EdCamp Foundation site. Special thanks to the EdCampLA team: Bill Selak (@billselak), Gayle Cole (@ghkcole), Stephen Davis (@rushtheiceberg), Jamie Gravell (@dontworryteach), Jayme Johnson (@jaymej), Lisa Dabbs (@teachingwthsoul), Vicky Sedgwick (@visionsbyvicky) and John Umekubo (@jumekubo). You were awesome! I’m also glad 15 of my talented co-workers from CEE made it out. Thank you for your contributions. And thank you to our amazing school for hosting.

EdCampLA was terrific and it was great seeing so many familiar faces from previous EdCamps, conferences and local schools. A fun activity that has become a regular at conferences for me is matching faces to online personalities. I love having my impressions of people affirmed. So many people in my PLN are constantly posting intelligent things. To see that their “real-life” personalities are just as interesting makes me feel good and reaffirms my belief that what we are doing here is real life, too.

I keep returning to a thought I had during lunch, really the combination of two ideas. The first is that Twitter is a “human filter” you create to get what you want out of the Internet. At any one time your stream has a completely unique feel dependent on who is currently online and active. EdCamps are like face-to-face Twitter. Each one also has its own feel and the mix of ideas that come out of each are wholly unique. You can’t reproduce it. That’s the magic of unconferences. They’re like the salons of the past.

Here are some highlights from EdCampLA. Thanks to everyone who came out and participated. EdCamps are impossible without interested participants who are willing to share.

  • New friends were made. Great things were learned. People were inspired. We ate pizza.
  • I wasn’t able to attend this but Chris Thinnes (@CurtisCFEE) and Catherine Rhee led what sounds like an invigorating session on Public-Private School Partnerships. By the way, if you’re not following Chris on Twitter your stream is lacking.
  • Jo-Ann Fox (@appeducationfox), Jessica Park (@packwoman508), and Karen Foerch (@kfoerch) facilitated discussions on great apps for the classroom and teachers.
  • Bill Selak (@billselak) did not suck in his leading the EdCamp staple session “Things That Suck”. Side note: learn how to lead this session with Bill’s easy instructions. Our admin and faculty, of whom 15 attended EdCampLA, were so stoked on “Things that Suck” that we used it in our last faculty meeting.
  • Another session I wasn’t able to attend but heard so many good things about was Dave Burgess’ (@burgessdave) session called “Magic for Teachers”. Some of my coworkers were inspired and talking about it days later.
  • ton of awesome tools were shared at the Slam.
  • Then some blog posts were written. Make sure to check out David Theriault’s (@MrTheriaultFVHSHip-Hop Reflection.

Check out the EdCampLA Wiki for resources from the day and here’s an archive of the tweets.

Peace!

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Posted by on January 20, 2013 in EdCamp, Reflections

 

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Do you EdCamp?

So there’s a quiet revolution happening in professional development. Teachers across the country (and around the world) are turning professional development on its head and making it what they want. It’s a resistance. A resistance to the top-down, high stakes culture that reduces students to numbers. And if that weren’t bad enough, this culture attempts to essentially do the same thing to teachers by way of mandated, and often meaningless, professional development.*

I’ve said this before, but teaching is a creative endeavor. Not because our students are blank canvases or pieces of unshaped clay, but because we create experiences for our kids. The thing is, creative types like to hang out and learn from other creatives. But when does this happen? When do teachers get an opportunity to learn from other professionals outside their own school or district WITHOUT someone else dictating the topic and schedule?

That’s what EdCamps are all about. I’m not going to go into the history of EdCamps. You can get that from the EdCamp Foundation site. But take this example from EdCampOCLA last year:

An attendee, we’ll call her Em, wanted to learn about Edmodo. She had heard about it before and heard that teachers were using it in their classrooms to provide students with a private online space to interact, submit assignments, and collaborate. So Em took a notecard, wrote “I want to learn more about Edmodo” on it and put it on the session board.  Later at the session, Em got a demonstration and a rich and relaxed discussion from fellow teachers who were using Edmodo. Em left with something she could use in her class the next week.

Now multiply that by the thousands of passionate educators attending EdCamps around the world. Awesome, no?

And don’t think that EdCamps are only about technology. I’ve spoken to some friends who are really excited about sharing what they are doing in their classrooms, would like some guidance on lesson planning, or are just looking forward to meeting other educators.

So if you’re anywhere near Los Angeles, or feel like taking a trip, we’d love to have you at EdCampLA on January 12th. It’s free and I guarantee you’ll have a rich experience. Register at www.edcampla.org. If not, find an EdCamp in your area or start one yourself!

 

*Of course there are exceptions. Many schools are actively resisting sucking the creativity out of teaching and reducing students to test scores.

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2012 in EdCamp, Professional Development

 
 
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