Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Fueling the Leaders

Yesterday I got back from spending a day and a half at Emory University free of charge thanks to the Gates Foundation and the Edcamp Foundation. Edcamp Organizers Summit was an amazing opportunity for those of us that have been on the planning committees for local Edcamps. It was an honor and a privilege to represent Chattanooga's Edcamp Gigcity.

I'll be honest, a month ago when I said yes to the event I was so excited but as the dates approached and the summer was slipping away, I begrudgingly got in my car to make the two hour trek to Atlanta for the event. My excitement level had waned but my commitment was there. (The irony was not lost on my that I was much like the 30% of our ticket holders that don't show up on the day of the free edcamp due to multiple reasons). After getting to the lovely Emory Conference Center and checking into their hotel, I starting making connections with many people in my professional learning network and realized this was a plus for the event. As I met new edcamp leaders from all over the south I found myself growing with excitement. The event was fabulous! We spent Tuesday morning in true edcamp fashion learning what we wanted to learn to make edcamps better or growing our educational practices.

Sometimes as educational leaders we get run down. Edcamps are hard work and I actually serve with a team of amazing educators that share the workload! In the midst of Edcamp Gigcity I always feel like I am there to serve and personal learning actually takes a backseat as I'm making sure the dynamics of the event are going well. After about the first hour of Edcamp Summit I realized it was relaxing. I realized I was being fueled. I realized I was benefiting from this unconference. It felt like a worthy use of my time!

I'm kind of stingy with anything that takes time away from my personal life but the older I get and more passionate I get as an educator, those worlds seem to be meshing more! I am thankful for being given the opportunity to sit around tables with amazing minds to discuss how do we make our edcamp experiences better. I am thankful for the new connections I made at this event. I am thankful that the Edcamp Foundation created this event for us weary, outliers that want to see professional education opportunities become MORE MEANINGFUL OPPORTUNITIES FOR POSITIVELY CHANGING THE ACADEMIC WORLD FOR OUR STUDENTS.

I am encouraged. I am proud of what we have done thus far with Edcamp Gigcity and due to the excitement of Edcamp Organizers Summit I am ready to tackle another year of providing innovative options and thought patterns in my area. Thank you Hadley Ferguson and Kim Savick for what became an empowering two days for me!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hey teachers, leave us kids alone!...or not?

It's happening again. A new phenomenon has hit the technology gaming market and immediately educators are looking for ways to incorporate it into the classroom. Pokémon Go is what I'm talking about. It follows behind Minecraft and social media crazes like Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.

This post may seem judgmental but hear me out; I do see true educational possibilities with some of the above-mentioned but the question remains "must everything be brought into the classroom just because students are attracted to it?"

I can already hear some of my favorite naysaying technology friends responding "you're right, but really we don't need any technology in the classroom for learning to take place! It's more of a distraction than a help." I can also hear Technology Educators saying "students are playing anyway, why don't we embrace it and teach them good digital citizenship using it? It's OK if learning is fun."

I find myself straddling this fence often. I see the benefit of social media and gaming but I also know that a classroom that is always taught in a lecture manner will often flounder when adding technology because Professor Willow will always be there calling easily distractible students to go Pokémon hunting when classroom dynamics seem boring.

I'm all about technology being purposefully used. My concern is that often the glitz and glamour of a new app lures educators into creating lesson plans around the technology instead of enhancing a great lesson. Do I think we could loosen our control strings a bit to meet students where they are? Probably... but I also feel there are so many teachers purposefully and intentionally using technology to help students create, consume, curate and connect on a regular basis without all the latest fads, GIFs, and MEMES. 

Maybe, just maybe there is value in letting kids have their own domains without it being educationalized. I'm still sitting on the fence in regards to some of these things but I find myself pondering closer to the side of let's just leave it alone. Perhaps I'm showing my age...ding dang it! (Insert sad emoticon here if that was acceptable in the educational arena).

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Caustic People and Reactions - "Rising Above the Muck"

Next Monday (July 18) I have the privilege to be a guest on the #leadwithgiants Twitter chat at 7pm ET. Our topic for that date is "Rising Above the Muck." There are often times we find ourselves disenchanted with life, more specifically to this chat- our work life. The question often begs asking "am I the problem?" 

This past school year I dealt with some major pain issues that caused my level of tolerance to dramatically decrease. I became someone that wasn't me- I was a grumpy, finger pointing, emotionally drained employee. I'm normally an encourager and try to see the positive sides of things (at least that's what I feel like I'm normally like), as the year was winding down I had to take a hard look at myself to realign myself to a more positive outlook.

But I also learned that my usual less negative outlook also makes me more passive. While I do not want to be the person I was last year, I realized that I also need to stand up stronger for injustices at times. My hope is that our Twitter chat questions will help us all rise above the muck of hard relationships, disenchantment, and inner turmoil.