I keep telling my students that writing in their own free time is a great idea. That putting thoughts to paper (or keyboard) is not only a really usable skill, but also helps you to think through issues and clarify things mentally. Reflection is where I am able to take a thought that is good and turn it into something better - something unique and special. I came into this school year hoping to have a greater focus on my own reflection through this blog and hoping to push my students to greater reflection through journals that were donated to my classroom. While my students have been using their journals (and many of them actually liking it!), I have not been so successful.
I went to a (un)conference yesterday called EdCampKC. I discovered it initially on twitter via its hashtag, #EdCampKC and came to learn that it is unique. Educators, both administrators and teachers, come together for a day of conversation and learning. You show up in the morning, and where there usually is a schedule of sessions for you to pick from, you are confronted with a blank spreadsheet. It is up to the attendees of the conference to create sessions in the morning and write their session into one of the blank spots! Once the day begins, you get to choose which session to attend, sometimes with very little idea of what you about to attend. While this sounds a little scary to commit to 45 minutes of mystery, this is where the uniqueness (may I say brilliance?) of the conference avails itself. You are encourage to vote with your feet, a phrase which means that conference attendees are welcome to get up and leave a session if they do not find it useful or find it to be different from what they expected! How crazy is this?! But it works.
I enjoyed all of the sessions that I attended, even the ones that I ended up leaving early. There was some frustration throughout the day because the Nelson Atkins did not have the bandwidth to handle all 300 participants being very active online, and this hurt some of the sessions that needed internet to function. But regardless, I found myself surrounded by teachers and administrators who get it. And more importantly, these people want to talk about what they do and share their secrets. I have found that the best educators are never shy about sharing their work. They know that it may be good or bad on a given day, but they understand their work to be a process that is ever-evolving. They accept and appreciate the struggles as a means to a very important end.
This aspect of #EdCampKC is what makes it special and fulfilling. I came away of the conference with ideas that I want to use in class. I also came away feeling refreshed and recharged. I needed yesterday in the worst possible way. I have felt tired. I have felt annoyed. I have felt a little bit isolated at my school recently. Yesterday helped me to feel connected to others who are working down the same path.
More thoughts to come on #EdCampKC soon. Thanks for reading.