Monday, April 28, 2014

Hosting EdCamp TLC: A True Labor of Love

Wow! The time has come for Karen's and my culminating activity for CTA's Teacher Leadership Cohort project. We had been spending almost a year building professional development in our districts. We had been focusing on the needs of our teachers and educators to create, lead, connect, and build their confidence in their teaching methods. We had been given (and continue to be given) countless opportunities to share with not only educators in our districts, but to educators across the state. We have truly been blessed to share, learn, and connect our knowledge with others.

So, after months of preparations and road blocks, EdCamp TLC finally arrived. 

I have been to several EdCamps before, and I hoped that EdCamp TLC would meet the expectations I had in my own mind: that educators will come together to share, collaborate, learn, and connect. 

Thanks to all of our sponsors!
I got up incredibly early and arrived at Teacher's College of San Joaquin to begin set up. Karen and I had all the essentials, coffee and breakfast items, as well as the "swag bags" and giveaways ready. 

As 8:30AM rolled around, attendees began showing. We checked them in, added them to Class Dojo for our giveaways. Excitement was building! But would it be the EdCamp, Karen and I envisioned?

As attendees checked in, grabbed breakfast, we encouraged them to add ideas to the session board. Anything that they were interested in, curious about, wanted to share, etc. As many had never experienced an EdCamp before (just one!), Karen and I did add to the session board to jump start the process. Before long, attendees were chatting, connecting, and adding their thoughts and interests to the session board.

Session board

Things were falling together!

Session building had begun! I love the organic process of EdCamps. Participants are truly in charge of their professional growth and the sessions created did reflect that. We had topics ranging from Smart Tech, Social Media and PD, webpage design, Genius Hour, Math Web Tools, Web 2.0, Remind101, Flipped Class, Edmodo, iPad Apps (Doceri, Educreations, etc.), GAFE Certification, and Blogging/Writing Technologies. It was truly exciting to see such a list created by teachers and for teachers! What a day of learning we had ahead of us!

Rooms began to buzz once sessions began. Although many were brand new to the EdCamp experience, all were excited to learn. Discussions began to flow, the sharing of knowledge grew, and excitement continued to build. We may have been a small group, but we were mighty and eager!

As the day drew to a close, we had one more activity to connect all participants: the one, the only "Things that SUCK"! I love "Things that SUCK"! I was first introduced to this concept at my very first EdCamp SV North. "Things that SUCK" is simply, it is a discussion, a debate, and/or a conversation on topics that affect those in the room. This activity can be done for staff meetings, education, non-education (I am getting my husband to do this in his business office!), even with your students! It is a powerful way to see just how others think and share their points of view in a wonderful and fun way. Bill Selak shares more on recreating this activity here.

Many of our participants agreed on quite a bit of topics, however, the most "controversial" was on "cute classrooms"! Who knew! Thanks to David Theriault for that topic! But, as always, it was fun, fair, and another way to share and connect with passionate educators.

The overall goal was to connect and inspire. I met a great bunch of educators that continually want to learn and grow in their profession. Educators who are willing to move out of their comfort zone to gain new heights.

I think Karen and I did just that. As we later learned that Michael Saunders blogged his about his experience at EdCamp TLC. What did he discover? 

 And now, Michael wants to create an EdCamp in his area (I am so THERE!). 

Did we accomplish our goal? I think so. Just like we need to encourage and model collaboration with our students, Sir Ken Robinson reminds us what education and learning is all about. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

A needed TLC: A journey towards a second calling

The journey of teaching this 2013-2014 year has been quite unexpected. I have had experiences that I never thought I would reach. Connected with the most inspirational educators across the country. And perhaps found an additional calling within the teaching realm. All of this was made a reality through the CTA Teacher Leadership Cohort CTA (TLC).

Through CTA's TLC, I have been given the platform to expand on other passions, inspiring teachers to embrace technology. It has been a whirlwind of #EduAwesome! I have met so many people, learned so much from the participants and Karen (my techie soul mate), and continue learning more about myself as a learner and educator. I suppose all I needed was a little "TLC".

I have always loved sharing knowledge. Whether it was discussing novels with my seventh graders, using manipulatives with kindergartners for adding and subtracting, or showing students how to use technology as more than simply gaming and social media. Even on my site, I have always been talking with colleagues about technology in the classroom or techniques I use to reach my students. I had no idea that I could take that even further.

I have blogged before about the joys of inspiring teachers. It first started with the creation of the Tech Think Tank with the infallible Karen Taylor; then blossomed into creating workshops on the integration of technology, Common Core, hosting a Twitter chat, and so much more that lately I have been teaching teachers my second calling?

I know, teaching is teaching, right? Well, it hasn't always felt that way to me. Believe it or not, I have always been extremely timid about sharing with anything with colleagues. The first presentation I had ever given to teachers was completely nerve wracking. Sure, once I started and my passion came through to my participants and eased my fear, but that fear was (and still is in many ways) still there. I know what does work in my classroom, but will others see the value in what I am sharing?

I think through TLC, being a SMART Exemplary Educator, Google Certified Teacher, and the power of Twitter has built my confidence. Through conversations (or chats) others have sought me out, connected with me, collaborated, shared, motivated, and inspired me. It has given me the confidence to continue to share with other educators, to share my knowledge, my successes and failures and to be available to any educator that has ever connected with me. 

The joyous part of all of my journey....other educators have connected with me and my ideas! I have received emails and tweets of thanks, of inspiration, of additional ideas, of collaborations, that motivate me and keep me going! 

I am simply excited to where this new found journey and passion for inspiring educators can go! It has opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Possibilities inside and outside of the classroom. The outside is where I never dreamed I could venture.... alas, that is where my road is taking me. My horizons are broader and I get to reach more students and educators alike. All I had to do was follow my passion. 

Your passion cannot be wrong. Your passion will lead you to unexpected, but grand roads! Your passions will open your eyes, fulfill your heart, and bring true happiness to you. It can't be work if it is your passion, right? It's like when I go to school (see what I did there?). I NEVER say I am going to work. Not once since I have been a teacher. Even a substitute for that matter! I have always said that I am going to school. Work implies pain, stress, and things I don't want to do. School is fun for me, not work. My passion has led me here.

It can for you too!

A special thank you to Rafranz Davis, Karen Taylor, and Robert Petitto for your support, belief, and laughs! You each have helped me realize so much about myself, my future, and my passions! Adore each of you!