This weekend, I had the opportunity to attend my first Tweet-Up, EdCamp and Smackdown. With this being my first, my mind is on overload (I'm sure more blog posts will follow). If someone were to ask me what stands out in my mind most from this weekend, it would have to be the conversations and connections that I made through edcamp. Because although there were sessions that people volunteered to present, they were much different than the traditional "sit and get" type of professional development that many of us have been involved in (forced into) for much of our careers. What made it different was that although there was a presenter, that person wasn't there to impart just their knowledge; they were there to facilitate a conversation on topic. Yes, they were experienced professionals that had background knowledge of and a passion for their proposed topic. However, they encouraged (and at times, sometimes pulled) a conversation out of everyone else in the room. Once people started talking and asking questions, not just of the presenter but one another, that was when the real learning began to happen. People began to connect and find other educators that they wanted to continue the conversation with after the time in that session was completed.
Isn't that what we as teachers should being doing in our classrooms everyday? When a class begins, we are the content experts. We know the curriculum. We know not just what needs to be mastered by the students but the time frame in which it must be completed. We should be guiding them into these conversations not just with us, but with each other. Some of the most profound moments for me at EdCamp were when two or more of the participants started a dialogue where they asked for ideas and solutions to challenges that they were facing in the classroom.
I'm excited about the connections that I've made this weekend, not just because I feel like I've found like-minded educators to share, talk, and problem solve with, but I feel like I've built some real relationships that are going to challenge me to further question what I'm doing in the classroom. They are going to push me to continue to grow, which will directly impact the learning that my students will engage in for the future.
This brought to mind something that one of my fifth graders said one time in a Moodle post with her peers from across the country. They asked her how we (as a class) came up with such clever ideas for our recent edition of The Coast to Coast Chronicles, she said, "Well, twenty-five brains are better than one. We just start the ball rolling and we all jump in and add to it until we come up with something fantastic."
I think she nailed this thought expertly. When we return to school, I'm determined that I will continue to foster these conversations and connections that my students have inside and outside of the classroom with their peers. After all, all of these connections and conversations really are all about them.