I am incredibly lucky that I live with a largely like-minded, innovative educator. Our conversations about education occur on a daily basis and could likely fill any Edcamp session. Yet, it's unusual for me to be surrounded by a large number of like minded teachers, who are all interested in using technology to improve instruction in a meaningful way, who recognize that our students aren't the enemy, who want to teach students in a way that will have real learning rather than involving lectures and rote memorization.
Yesterday, I had the amazing opportunity to take part in EdcampSS, an "unconference" in Philadelphia where Social Studies teachers (as well as a few representatives from other disciplines) me to discuss strategies that were important to all of us. Interestingly, many of us already "knew" each other from the Twitterverse, and most attendees are involved in the Twitter chat #sschat.
I attended conferences about Teaching History without a Textbook, Flipping the Social Studies Classroom, Using Evernote, Getting Students to Ask Better questions, and Paperless Classroom. Watching the ways these teachers teach teachers led me to thinking about how awesome it must be to be a student in their classes. Usually, those teaching PD (even those who are current or former teachers) are so boring, it's hard to think of how students are successful in their classrooms, but these are truly engaging and enthusiastic educators.
In addition to participants creating Google Docs, which can all be seen here, Teacher Cast streamed sessions from each room, though it doesn't look like all the feeds are available now. The archive of all the tweets throughout the day can be viewed here.
There was also a Smackdown, where folks shared resources of all kinds that can help improve a Social Studies classroom and Kenneth C Davis gave the keynote AND ran a quiz show. I volunteered for the Quiz Show and was more than astonished to get a question correct. As a prize, he gave all the participants a copy of his new book, signed mine, and shook this geek's hand!
I generally kept quiet, feeling sort of intimidated by so many people I know (and secretly...er, not so secretly... idolize) from Twitter who are such educator rock stars--c'mon, what can a never-gonna-be-teacher-of-the-year offer any of them?--but was really happy and enthused to engage with these folks in conversations. It's refreshing to know that THIS is the state of education in this country, or at least, what education can be if we're not afraid to push the envelope and force our students and ourselves to THINK! It's engaging to know that I'm not only not the wacko I may sometimes seem, but I'm also perhaps not wacko enough in my non-traditional classroom. I am refreshed. I am energized.
I engaged in many, many conversations and am so enthused, my husband and I are figuring out how we can swing an overnight babysitter and a hotel so we can attend EdcampPhilly together. These kinds of events are incredible for any teacher who is feeling all alone in his/her school or district, any teacher who needs a spark to get out of a rut or feeling stale, any teacher who is excited to share.