This past Saturday I participated in one of the five #edcampiowa locations here in Bettendorf, Iowa.
This was my first EdCamp experience. I was not sure what to expect, but I came excited and pumped up. I will not lie, I did put together some slides to present. I know this goes against the mindset of EdCamp, but I could not resist. I just had to wrap my mind around some thoughts and organize material. I knew not to use the slides, but I was up early at 4:15 like I do everyday and pieced together three presentations.
When I arrived I was excited to meet new people. I chatted with some people at the Tweet Up the night before and came in contact with some really great people who I had not met before. One educator was actually a sub for me when I had my first child during my first year of teaching. It was so cool to connect and talk about that time. It seems like forever ago, but really only ten years.
I put in for one presentation where I shared Student Voice – No Fluff Stuff. I wanted to reach out and hear from others about student voice. I want to get away from the fabricated answers and get to the core of student voice and really implement it. Amazing at how great this is starting to shape up. I connected with some educators that wanted to know more. I feel proud that people are interested in what we are doing.
As I started out the day I noticed two of my amazing students show up. I did not know they signed up nor did I know they were going to come to EdCamp. It was so perfect because I feel that my job as an educator and leader was complete at that moment. As I have worked so hard to empower students and their role in education I reached the peak as these students no longer ask permission. Instead, they gave up their Saturday on their own willpower to attend an education conference. Not only that, but they stood up and provided a session to present. I have never been more proud!
In addition to speaking and sharing about student voice, I really became a huge fan of Garnet Hillman who spoke on Standards Based Grading. @garnet_hillman I could have sat and picked her brain all day. She was really dynamic. She really forced me to think about a lot of things. I did not get much of a chance to share some of my thoughts, but the conversation was so good it was better off without me. I do have all my thoughts recorded into my Evernote which I am sure will appear on this site soon. Just getting a chance to hear her speak on her system not only opened my eyes to some things, but made my PLN that much more rich.
I also jumped into the session with Mark Pisel @mpise12 who works at Bettendorf High School. He spoke about the projects he operates in his marketing classes. He shared about the amazing journey taking place with the Random Acts of Kindness project. He is doing things that not too many people are doing. It was great to see him share out and hopefully get others thinking about stepping up the expectations of learning with social media.
I did jump out of this session when my superintendent snagged me to jump in another session about project based learning and finding our passion. I jumped in and spoke about our #BettPassion project. During this session I learned about an amazing thing going on called Big Idea Group that Trace Pickering @tracepick spoke about. I was super excited to hear about this and really want to make this happen in our area as well. This is the vision I have for education.
After a lunch and meeting new people I jumped into a Google+ session. It was good to hear things again and be able to chime in as needed. It was great to see all levels of educators wanting to learn. It was a reminder that I am doing right things by working hard to stay on top of things to enhance education. As many have stated it is not about the tools, but how we can network and collaborate to enhance learning.
The last session I joined was the one ran by my two students. They only had one person attend, but he was awesome. He was so interested in students helping with our project tuning process, how to develop projects, and how we are transforming our building to project based learning. The girls did outstanding and all those who missed this session really missed out. It was a great conversation and I walked away with an idea that is just burning my brain right now that I cannot wait to develop. It is all based on this phrase “project pathways”. Yes, a post is coming seeking feedback, but in the closing minutes of EdCamp I have a new idea just festering my brain and that is exciting!
It was a great day. Much different from all other conferences. Talking with several students at school Monday morning as well as the two who came to EdCamp I think we would love to host our own EdCamp style conference but operate by students. Students share what they are doing to pave the way in education. Edcamp style to foster and promote real student voice. It has gathered my interest and I would love to develop a conference like this. I think it has great potential to not only connect educators, but students and schools into a unified front.
Thanks to Jimmy Casas, Matt Degner, and Colin Wikan for putting together a great event. I know there were many more involved in the operation, but it was a great day of learning and I look forward to next year.