There is safety in cross-school collaboration.
When you are in a room with other educators and transparency happens, it feels somewhat easier to share the struggles and successes. I'm not sure why. Maybe it feels easier to share failures with outsiders because you realize all these other schools have them too. Sharing with educators in your building risks the fear of judgment, sharing with non-building educators doesn't leave anything hanging over you -- just a thought.
There is beauty in shared learning.
Brainstorming, roundtable discussions where there is the ability to share and ask questions allows for maximum results of information. When I look at the shared notes folders that were set up for edcamp gigcity which can still be accessed at bit.ly/edcampgigcity, I realize just how much learning was going on. Before we broke up for sessions, questions were asked like, "What's augmented reality? PBL? Flipped learning?" Things that I take for granted as an instructional technologist, but quite honestly those questions made me excited for the day -- it meant some teachers were going to have their socks rocked off -- and I'm fairly sure I'm not wrong. Which leads me to the next point...
There is value in blowing someone's mind.
It happens to me as well -- I go to the ISTE conference and feel like I am in "information overload" mode but what happens is that after I self-curate all the amazing things I've learned I come out with a "nugget of wisdom" (or two) to implement. Sometimes conferences/edcamps/professional development days feel like learning through a fire hose, but the value is that within the overwhelming amount of intake, usable information comes forth for future greatness.
There is awesomeness in the fact that EdCamps aren't Tech camps.
I'll be honest, even though I repeated this 27 times because I was pushing it, most teachers thought it was a tech conference at my school. I love EdCamps because they are NOT tech camps, therefore the "techies" aren't the smartest people in every room. Everyone brings value to an EdCamp because the path of learning is based on all those lovely little sticky notes that started the day -- the ones where anyone in the room could say, "I wanna learn this!" EdCamps tend to have many technology-based sessions due to the educators that tend to attend, but it isn't locked into just that. I love this fact because it allows us to learn from everyone in attendance.
There are outstanding educators choosing to better themselves on Saturdays.
On. A. Saturday. Educators that worked all week dealing with the frustrations of "end of year personalities" choose to better their practice. They made the choice to be a part of learning ON A SATURDAY. Do you see the awesomeness of that statement? Yeah -- 136ish educators that care enough about what they do to come to an unconference on a Saturday.
Okay, okay...I may have gone to far with that point, but what I am trying to say is that there are outstanding educators out there in our community and beyond. Everyday on the news we hear the negatives of schools in our area, but I'm here to tell you that I met a ton of teachers and administrators that care about what they do and how they do it. They should be applauded.
There is innovative dreaming for the future of education.
I wrote a recent post about the value of innovation in education -- at EdCamp I saw it firsthand. I saw teachers asking questions, leading discussions, weighing possibilities, and thinking, "what if..." I totally, completely LOVE "what if" thinking educators. I was fairly busy doing behind the scenes stuff during the day but I did get to pop in and out of a few sessions.
I myself have a "what if..." moment I hope to implement next year from listening to what the Sequatchie county school system is doing with a "student tech club." I can't wait to see what people had to say on the exit forms to see what they got from the day as well.
There are determined outstanding educators all around me.
Wowsers. I loved listening to what was going on in the schools represented in those sessions. I was blown away by the intelligence in the rooms. We need to tap into this greatness. We need to visit each other and see what's happening. We need to grow these newfound relationships -- after this EdCamp, our PLN (professional learning network) exploded. We don't need this to be the end, we need edCamp GigCity to be the jump off point for continued greatness and learning. We need to follow each other on Twitter and communicate via educational Twitter chats. We need to follow up with our home schools and make suggestions to those around us to connect with those we met.
There is such great value in breaking down the silos of not only our own rooms but our own schools. One tweet I 100% agree with said, "Build collaborative culture not competitive - opens the doors of learning from each other #edcampgigcity" -@hollowayreader.
This is an opportunity for us -- it is up to us to move forward with it. We talked summer "lunch and learn" networking opportunities that would continue to include private and public educators. This excites me.
There are educational administrators that see the benefit of the EdCamp model.
I was thankful for the attendance and support of various administrators at this event. Educators that see their administrators value EdCamps see the value themselves. Those are the type of principals/administrators that see teachers willing to think outside the box because they feel safe to innovatively think.
My "YES" moment of the day was when the assistant superintendent of Hamilton County schools tweeted "Most significant edu discussion I've had in years #makerspace #edcampgigcity" -@RRSharpe.
He's not even my administrator but to me this was an epiphany moment. He spent the day going from session to session, listening and learning. There was nothing he could really implement in the classroom, but he was supporting the Hamilton County teachers there and listening to their hearts and minds. He got it.
I realize the experience may not have been what everyone was looking for but I woke up this morning tweeting the Chatt Tech Crew about things we could do to make the next one better. What a gloriously wonderful day of collaboration and learning that I now have in my educational toolbox for the future.
This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we've preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer's own.