Wednesday, November 28, 2012

EdCamp Delta Leadership

Last weekend I attended my third edcamp in Delta, British Columbia.   This time around it was a lot different than last January when I attended not having a clue what I was getting myself into.  Instead of walking in terrified, not knowing anyone and wondering if I really had anything to contribute, I walked in confidently excited to spend face to face time with many of my friends from twitter.  I was excited to be at an edcamp again,  in spite of the fact that I was suppose to be working on my report cards.

When I arrived it was a lot like a mini reunion.  It was so great to reconnect with good people, and to welcome other friends to their first edcamp experience.  It was nice to already know so many people and to see my district so well represented from early primary teachers (ie ME!), to intermediate teachers, high school teachers, principals, and even one of our directors of instruction.  It made me proud to be a part of my school district with so many keen educators from Surrey.

In usual edcamp style we each were given four post it notes to choose which topics most interested us.  As probably one of only a very few primary teachers at the end camp it was important for me that there was at least primary elementary topic to choose from so of course I suggested one in advance.   I added my post it notes to it and three other topics that interested me and then I waited for the schedule to be set.

As the schedule was being set I went out of my way to meet some key people I've heard a lot about and was very interested in meeting face to face. I wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity that I had in front of me.  It isn't often that you are in a building with so many incredible educators.  I'm so glad I was brave enough to introduce myself to these people.  I have come a long way.

Anyhow with the schedule finally set I noticed that my primary topic was at the same time as another topic I was interested in hearing more about.  Feeling so strongly that primary teachers need a voice in the edcamp experience, and the fact that I suggested the topic, I went to the room where the primary teachers met.

Now I knew there wouldn't be a lot of people in the room (there were only four  post it notes on the topic suggestion sheet and one of them was mine) so I had no idea if there would be anyone in the room. The others may have decided to attend another session as well.  But thankfully I was not alone when I walked into the room.  In the end there were five of us.

The thing about having a small number of people in a session is that we really had the opportunity to talk. Each and every one of us contributed to our discussion which was great.  We actually went over time as people for the next sessions started to come in.  It was a good session with many ideas being shared.  I also love that I got reacquainted with Tammy and Glennis, two inspiring teachers that I had  met last January at edcamp Delta.

My next two session were good, but not as inspiring as they were the last time I attended. Perhaps it was the sessions I had chosen but more than likely as a primary teacher there was a lot less being offered that applied to me and what I'm doing with my students.  Not a bad thing, just an observation.  Or perhaps because I am  so entrenched in a connected educators world that I've read and spoken with a lot of different educators about so many of the topics being presented. Or perhaps, as a grade one teacher in an environment that allows me very little ability to make changes outside of my own classroom, it is often hard to listen to these incredible leaders doing incredible things.  What ever the reason was, as good as these sessions were they weren't as good as I remember them being  from the last time.

My final session was great. In an informal and "fun" way we had discussions on important topics in education.  We were all involved at what ever level we wanted to be. The topics made us think, and the fact that we had to convince the undecided to choose our side made for some good conversations.  It was a great way to end the day.

So as usual I need to end my blog post with a personal reflection.

First off there has to be a way to get more early primary teachers involved.  I KNOW that there are MANY amazing primary teachers out there with fantastic things to share. And yes many have families which they are raising and ultimately that is the most important job in the world and so I highly respect their decision to be with their families on the weekends instead of attending an edcamp.  But there are teachers and administrators at the higher grade level with families too, yet those levels are well represented.  Why is it that I am often one of a very very small handful of primary teachers attending these ed camps? And yes, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a learning geek, but I'm sure I'm not the only primary teacher that loves to learn and connect.  I need to find a way to change this.  We need more of us speaking and sharing on behalf of our little people. They may be little but they are doing incredible and inspiring things.  Perhaps I need to get involved at the planning level, or I need to be promoting more to my primary teacher friends. I'm not really sure though but this is something that does have to change. Suggestions anyone?

Edcamp is a good reminder that we all have voices and we all have important things to say. I love that we had several high school students involved in the day. I love that there were parents, and people from the community there too. EVERY SINGLE PERSON has an important message and we all need to find a way to share our messages.

But most of all, how do I harness the inspiration I get from attending these type of conferences, and from the discussions I have with such incredible people and actually do something with it.  I have an amazing personal learning network on twitter (which I am thankful for every single day) but how do I take it back to the people I work with on a day to day basis.  Have I gone so over board with my desire to learn that I'm un-motivating (de-motivating?) those I work with on a day to day basis? And why is it that I'm told I inspire others around my district yet I have so much trouble inspiring those I work closest with?  Is this a normal phenomenon that we can inspire those we don't see on a day to day basis, but we have little effect on those we work closest with? Maybe my approach is all wrong? Maybe my school is no longer a good fit for me.  All I know is that it's really hard to be so inspired whether through an edcamp, or a great conference, or a fabulous discussion on line, and then return to my day to day reality.  Something needs to change.

But before I end this blog post I think it is most important to thank edcamp planning crew for organzing a superior day.  I feel blessed that I am able to attend these events and even more blessed that you put them on for us.  If there is another one and I'm able to attend I will. Thank  for providing me with a mind spinning Saturday, and a great distraction from report card writing. As they do every single year, they did get written and handed in before their due date.


  1. Thanks for sharing Karen! Again, I appreciate your thoughtful interpretation of your experience. I am again feeling the loss at having not attended. I am constantly battling the balance between home and school and often feel the loss at both ends. Therefor, I am thankful for the reflections of those who attend and share publicly. I would like to add to your voice in speaking for all the Primary classes out there doing amazing things! Lets continue making waves and sharing our experiences!

    1. Lora, I have and will continue to share my learning with you. I am so glad we met at that fateful Ed Camp last February. So very, very thankful. :-)