This last Saturday I was down in Des Moines for what was my 5th Edcamp. I love Edcamps as they are a great opportunity to connect with others and to learn from each other. There are no experts in the room, although some people do have more background knowledge than others, but it is more about what we can learn together. These become great times to model the learning process as we want it where we do not need to be consumers of information from someone else but creators of our own learning.
For those that have never been to an Edcamp, you need to go. They happen usually on Saturdays, are free and the schedule for the day is not created until the participants decide what it will be. The people who attend edcamps are the ones that decide what sessions there will be and what topics will be discussed. It is a great time to vote with your feet as you can easily leave a session that does not fit your needs or wants, our time is too important to be wasted so you have to make sure you end up where you want. There are edcamps that happen all over the place with the next big one in Iowa, Edcamp Iowa, happening in January.
I proposed one session focused on changing professional development, as this is a topic I like to discuss with others to see what others think about how we can make our PD better. I put this in the last group of sessions as there were some others that I really wanted to go to. I started the day with a Twitter 101 session, mostly to help others get started with what I view as the greatest learning tool for a teacher. I always like to help others see how we can use something like Twitter to keep our learning going all the time and that we are not in this alone. Twitter becomes a great chance to connect with others in order to learn and grow.
Mindsets was the topic for the next session that I attended. This was a great discussion focused on how our mindsets can affect us as teachers, and in essence affect our classrooms. There were a lot of great resources shared that will help me as I continue to grow, making sure I am not in a fixed or fossilized mindset. As teachers, we have to make sure we do not get stuck in a fixed mindset as this will affect our ability to improve and adjust our learning environments to best fit the needs of our students. This discussion gave me new questions to think about and address, maybe even in a future blog post.
After session was the Rocks vs Sucks session, which is always a favorite of mine even if I did get cut off a few times, but I am used to it by now. Rocks vs Sucks for those that are not aware, is a great session where different topics are suggested and you position yourself into either a group that thinks it rocks, sucks or are in the middle. You get time to discuss your viewpoint, making sure each group gets an equal amount of time and you also get some rebuttal time. It is important to keep it professional and make sure you follow the time rules so that everyone can get a chance to speak. Topics include homework, internet filtering, professional dress code, and other topics that allow for some great discussions to take place. The discussions are more important than the actual place where you stand.
Finally it was time for the session that I proposed but since not many people came to it, those of us that did had our own little chat that revolved around many topics. It was nice to sit and have a conversation with others, we don’t always get this opportunity during the school day.
As with any learning experience, it is what you take away and the action you take that matters most. The day of learning can be great, new connections are always awesome but there should be some effect from this experience. For me it will come down to how I can affect the mindsets of others and how I can use this to help improve the learning that takes place in our school. I have some new books to read, new people to chat with and a new resource to use in Voxer. (I was talking with some others who talked about a Voxer group I should join and we will see how this becomes a useful tool or not as I use it, definite blog post coming.)
If you do not take action on what you learned, was it really useful to learn it?