Sunday, March 23, 2014

Five things I Learned at EdCampOmaha

I just came back from EdCampOmaha and I am still
 processing. EdCamp is an unconference without a program, fees or a hierarchy. You just show up, offer a session and join others. The experience was immersive, so much enthusiasm passion and powerful learning moments that you cannot but feel hopeful about education teachers and the future. Teachers came from as far as Minnesota and Oklahoma but also Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri.

The energy was undeniable and I wish every one of my students was there to experience it. So here are five things I learned or relearned:

1. Democracy in professional development works, to a degree. In EdCamp sessions are arranged on the fly and teachers choose by title. In essence anyone can create a session that anyone can attend. Participation is key. The afternoon crowd also showed that people vote with their feet and choose to come back in smaller numbers.

2. Gamification can be effective without technology. And easier to implement in some ways. Physical badges, leaderboards and other ideas can put a spin on tedious tasks. Thank you Nate Balcom. The session has renewed my interest in gamifying a portion of my classes.

3. It is fun to be a learner and just enjoy. Its been awhile since I've been to a PD conference just to learn and not be in charge, worry about details or prep another presentation. I've been doing so many TechEDGE conferences and presenting in others that I forgot the joy of just being open to new ideas.

4. Some people are so impacted by circumstance and professional isolation that they find it hard to open up to other possibilities. In a few of the conversations I had it became clear that professional isolation in some schools created an environment in which educators find it hard to innovate. They want to, and I guess they came to edcamp to get energized but the isolation was so severe that they actually sucked the energy out of discussions. My heart went out to them.

5. Teachers are focusing on student creation. Student creation is a literacy multiplier and some teachers have figured it out. The teachers I talked with (especially from Bellvue) were on fire saying: "I have been one to one iPads since January, it has transformed my teaching. I cannot go back!" Thank you Brent for an exceptional opportunity.

Great learning with great colleagues! I do have some ideas and concerns but those will come at another post.
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