Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The edchat topic from yesterday was all about passion and how do we encourage it in teachers. I hadn't had the opportunity to really participate in an edchat discussion lately (and if you haven't I highly recommend it), and this question in particular resonated with me. One of the reasons that I love my job, is that I am not only allowed but encouraged to engage in activities I am passionate about. I think what the heart of our discussion was the lack of freedom and the stifling of creativity that teachers feel in their schools. That all to often teachers try new things that don't go smoothly and give up. Tom Whitby counteracts with this that we should embrace failure and learn from them. That it is this challenge that we should be embracing. This immediately brought to mind a completely unrelated experience:

Imagine Bethany as a teenage softball player, she is good, but lacks confidence. She can hit home runs, but the minute the count isn't in her favor, she crumbles. With two strikes down, her Dad yells from the crowd, "You hit like a girl." In her head, she yells back, "What is that supposed to mean?!?!" as she hits a home run.

Now, my Dad wasn't trying to put me down for being a girl (in fact he is one of my biggest fans) but he knew I needed to get mad. That if I was just fighting with myself I would lose, but that if I had something to push against I would demand to be heard.

I'm lucky, I am in a situation where I can do what I love and advocate for change in the education world. But I'm not in the trenches, I'm not fighting it every day. But I have been there, and maybe Tom is right we need to be "undaunted by failures. In fact, a passionate teacher should be spurred on by defeats."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Educon 2.2

I promised myself I wouldn't read or post any blogs until I posted on my Educon 2.2 experience. So with my Google Reader Feed exploding, I am finally writing about my experience. And Educon 2.2 is definitely more about experience than anything else. There is something about being in that building and meeting everyone Face-to- face that is beyond anything I have experienced in a long time in education. But let me back track - what is Educon?

Educon is the brain child of the principal of The Science Leadership Academy (SLA), Chris Lehman, in Philadelphia. SLA is a charter school associated with The Franklin Inst and is an example (to me at least) of how charter school's can change the way we think about education. Educon 2.2 takes the best part of a conference - the conversations and focuses on them. It reminds me of how we say that edtech is about "Content not Tools."

Friday started with a very insightful personal tour from one of the students at SLA. Muhammad was so excited to show me around his school, and what he was passionate about. To me that is the best testimony you can have of any school - kids excited to share what they are doing and happy to be there. And isn't that excitement, that enthusiasm we have for school - don't we want our students to have that as well?

I had an incredible time at the rest of the conference discussing "What is Creativity?" or "What can we learn about learning from Play?" and even "How to stump Education Lawyers" but what it came down to me was the conversations I had with other both in and out of sessions. My Dad used to tell me how important it was to "network," and I never really believed him until I started creating and cultivating my own PLN. And what I've discovered is that these in-person connections at places like Educon make my online connections much more richer.

In the end - I think it is my interaction with people, especially Muhammad that I will take back with me. I believe my friend Jason said it best when he says,
What will you do tomorrow in your schools to help those around you ‘defy gravity? Will you merely return to school re-energized by meeting many of your PLN face-to-face looking to improve what you do? Clearly, that is one reason we attend a conference like EduCon but what about those around you? Will you reach out to the folks in your department, down the hall, even in a neighboring school across the district or in your state?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ignite Raleigh 2: I survived

So one of the drawbacks of winning the Ignite Raleigh 2 voting is that you actually have to present, in front of people that you don't know (turns out there were 700 of them)! Now most of my job involves pushing faculty and students outside of their comfort zone, but it has been a long time since I felt like such an outsider. Now don't get me wrong I teach and present for a living, but my audience members are normally either 1) Captive, i.e. students or 2) Educators that want to hear what I have to say. Last Wednesday I felt like a Freshman on The Debate team, geeky, but not geeky enough.

Now don't get me wrong, I am extremely grateful to have been apart of Ignite Raleigh 2, and my fellow speakers were fantastic, but they all seemed to know each other. It was more like crashing a reunion of social media experts, and to top that off they made me go first! However, the advantage of going first is that 1) I got it over with quickly and 2) I got to enjoy all the other presentations - which were almost all extraordinary.

Some of my favorites included:

NerdGirls Unite! Fact: Women Don’t Have to Be Lame by Charlotte Moore

I was completely impressed with Charlotte's confidence as much as her subject matter. As a "Nerd Girl" myself, I was excited to hear what she had to say and thought she did an excellent job.

Mayberry Modernism – Why the Triangle is America’s Hotspot for Way Cool Houses by George Smart

Did you know that Raleigh has the third largest concentration of Modernist houses? I didn't and now I totally want to buy one! George did an excellent job of telling a story about our area that was both interesting a compelling.

13 Reasons Women Should Take Up Boxing by Lisa Creech Bledsoe
Lisa aka (@glowbird) was one of the first people I followed on Twitter that was from Raleigh and not in education. I have always enjoyed her tweets and was interested to meet her in person. She was really nice to me back stage and a genuinely kind person - that is not afraid to beat you up in the ring. I may just have to take up boxing!

Overall, I really did enjoy my experience, but I'm not sure I would do it again. I'm appreciative of everyone that gave me their support and to the group of friends that showed up in person. We had a small edutweetup prior to the show where I got a chance to meet and talk with @PCSTech, @kellyhines, @msstewart , @cliffims, @ericcole, @keithledford among others. I am very appreciate to them for taking my mind off of the rest of the evening.

I hope to post the video soon. Right now the Ustream channel doesn't have the first two presenters. But you can watch it here just the same.