Yesterday I got up around 4:10am and left the house at 5:00am to drive 3 hours north to join in on Edcamp Twin Cities. I have been to three Edcamps before, all in Iowa, and this was my first one in another state with educators I have never met in person.
Many would be curious as to why I would do all of this on a day when I could have been relaxing at home or outside. Two words; GROWTH MINDSET. I feel that you have to keep pushing yourself to get better and to grow as an educator. By traveling up to Burnsville to participate in this great learning experience, with many teachers I had only met on Twitter, I was going to push myself to keep trying to grow and grow. I was going to experience different perspectives and ideas that would help me to get better and allow me to make changes so that I am truly doing what I can to help others.
Edcamps are the ultimate selfish learning experience because you get to choose what you learn and who you learn it from. The participants decide the topics and who will facilitate or lead the discussions, there are no vendors or speakers brought in to guide the day, it is PD by teachers and for teachers. (and any educator for that matter) I finally decided to facilitate a discussion because I really wanted to learn what others thought and had done about the idea of flipping professional development. While I suggested the topic and had my name put down as the facilitator, this was not a conversation that I was going to dominate. I wanted to see what others were doing and how it was working for them. I would not be disappointed as some great educators were sharing out ideas and methods that would help me to get better.
I was very fortunate to meet some great administrators (Brad Gustafson @GustafsonBrad, Bill Adams @JWPBulldog, and Mark French @PrincipalFrench to name a few) that helped me greatly by discussing what they were doing and why they were doing it. There were so many great teachers and administrators there sharing ideas about how we can get schools to a better place for students. The beauty is that these discussions were not contained to just the 50 minutes for each session as we continued talking during lunch and connected through Twitter so these conversations can continue on well past the last session of the day. Which, if you needed another reason to be an educator on Twitter, there it is right there. I am able to now continue sharing and collaborating with great educators from another state without having to leave my school or office.
The whole drive home, remember I had 3 lovely hours, I was thinking about what would be my next step, what would I change or implement to keep growing. I know there is still a lot I can do to help the staff at my school in my role as technology integrationist as we continue to grow in order to meet the needs of our students. Our schools can not look like they did 30 years ago or even 10 years ago for many, we are facing every increasing challenges and a completely different landscape but there are many things we can do to improve. Technology can help us as we are better able to differentiate and meet the wide variety of needs of students in our classrooms. We as educators can connect and help each other out in ways not possible before, we can connect classrooms across the country to create learning experiences for our students that will help them truly learn.
I used to hang a sign in my classroom, one which I may need to remake and put in my office, that said “Failure is an option, but failure to learn is not.” Failure is a major component to the learning process but too often people forget that it is what we do after a failure that matters most. What do we learn and what do we change. Even after a success we should be thinking about how we could have been better. We need to be in a constant mindset of improvement and growth. Every day offers us an opportunity to improve and even if we fail at that, tomorrow is always another day to get better. True failure only happens when we stop improving and settle for “good enough”.
Edcamps are a big way that I keep myself in a Growth Mindset, how do you it?