EdCamp or Bust.. Educators on a Mission…

In the early days of “California of Bust”, on the back of wagons heading West, the message was clear: Bigger things awaited them, and they were determined to get there, one way or another. This message seems to me to be the perfect fit for the nature of EdCamps. If you have never been a part of one, you might not fully understand this analogy, so let me explain.

Educators have long since the beginning of time been required to take part in professional development opportunities in order to stay current on educational practices. Most often choices are limited, if at all, and one simply goes through the motions, not intentionally, but by circumstance. How much learning takes place in those inservice opportunities?  What percentage of take away is truly applied in the classroom in the days that follow?  As educators we know that engaging our audience is at the core of growth and learning, and so some pretty smart people in education sat down and redefined what PD should look like… And out of that ….EdCamp was born!

EdCamps are the “unconference” for a a reason… They have no agenda, no planned presenters, no real plan of action. It is simply educators coming together to network, share ,and decide WHAT they want to learn, and WHO in that room can lead the discussion. The agenda for the day is set as attendees come together and find they have something they can share. The best part of it all… EdCamps are planned by people like you and me…. Not districts or educational content developers.

Last spring I myself took on Co- Chairing #PadCampDallas with Venita Jones (@vcjtx). #PadCamp is simply a spin off of the EdCamp philosophy, focused specifically on using tablets and handheld devices in the classroom. I won’t lie, it was a lot of work planning such an event, but at 8 am on Saturday March 24th, I looked around, and found myself surrounded by a group of truly dedicated professionals. These educators gave up their Saturday to learn… willingly… with no PD prodding by their districts or administration. They came because they had a tablet, and they wanted to know the best ways to engage their students with it…  Amazing to say the least.

So where does that leave us in this EdCamp or Bust analogy? Well look around.. there is undoubtedly one happening in a city near you this year. EdCamptAtl is my next stop. On September 8th, I have a feeling I am going to look around Woodward Academy and have that same moment I had back in March. I am going to be proud I am part of a profession that gives their all for the betterment of our students, determined to find the best ways to engage these learners of the 21st century.  Hope to see you there… EdCamp or Bust!

The Essential Question: So You Aren’t Going To Teach?

So with only 7 instructional days left in my general education teaching experience here in Texas, I have obviously been quite busy job hunting and looking for the path that I am destined to go down next. I have taught Pre-K, 3rd, and 4th, with ESL and SpEd time in between. That comes to a grand total of 9 years of teaching in the classroom. Where did the time go? Well it went to defining me as an educator. It went to growing and becoming someone with a vision for the future, and a dedication to getting there. It was well spent time indeed. So ultimately every question asked when I say I am moving to Georgia is, “Do you have a teaching job yet?”. Each time, I explain I do not have a position yet, but that I am applying only for non teaching positions in EdTech, VirtualEd, Professional Development, and HigherEd. That leads to puzzled looks, and more questions about WHY I don’t want to teach. I assume most expect me to go into the hard times of education :  Low pay, more expectations, changing standards, but that is certainly not my answer. My answer is simple… It is time to move on and find my next challenge. It would be easy to stay in the classroom in some ways. I certainly know how to teach, and have a decent track record over the years 🙂 It is comfortable…. and we all know comfortable is good! For me, it is about pushing myself into something I haven’t done before. It is about getting experience in education that doesn’t involve going into my cozy classroom each day. I really am excited about being pushed to learn something different.

A fortune cookie I got last week said it all: One learns most by teaching others.  That can be read a million different ways… but for me, it was the message I have been thinking about for a while. When I lead an inservice, small teacher group, or just meet with a teacher on the fly- what I love is showing them something they have never seen before and the ways it can serve them in teaching their students. When they start to use it, and tell you how much they love it… well that makes it that much more rewarding! That is exactly what I want to do. I want to be mentoring students, teachers, admins, districts, and random lovers of learning. That doesn’t have to take place from 7:30-3:30 M-F.

So no, I don’t plan on teaching in the elementary classroom in the fall. I plan on making sure I am contributing to education in the 21st century in some way or another…  While I sadly won’t be at ISTE this year, I will be frequenting EdCampAtl, GaETC, and AuthorSpeak2012. I will be working with other educators in these three venues, and making sure I still am teaching someone along the way. The best part about all of those… Lots of people will be teaching me too!  Hope to see you at at least one of those! 🙂