Saturday, February 26, 2011

NT Camp Burlington (#14inFeb)

Today, the education unconference movement made its Massachusetts debut with NTCamp held at Burlington High School. Although the crowd was small, I learned much and had great conversations.

First, like any conference that comes out of my twitter PLN, it was great to see so many familiar faces: Patrick Larkin, Andy Marcinek, Lyn Hilt, Eric Juli, Dan Callahan, Kathy Brophy, Elizabeth Peterson, Karen Janowski.

Second, it was great to meet a few new teachers who are really passionate about teaching and improving their craft.

I started the day by sitting on a Connected Principals panel with Patrick, Lyn, and Eric. We talked about social media and administrators connecting with new teachers. I think this was my first panel discussion. During most of the panel discussions that I have witnessed, it seems that every member of the panel feels compelled to weigh in on every question - even if they have nothing new to add. I decided not to do that. Since there were only a few questions, I made sure to sit out for one. I could have said something (I always have something to say). I just didn’t.

Once the panel ended it was time for the first session. I chose a session about lesson planning. It was led by a fifth year teacher and his teammate who has been teaching for only a few weeks. We had a great discussion about planning and teaching and students. I found it hard to resist the urge to try to answer every question, and there were two new teachers there who hardly spoke at first. Finally, someone asked one of them a direct question. These two teachers had a lot to say and a lot to ask. I stopped talking (for a while, at least).

I knew that I’d be able to start talking again when the second session started because I signed up to lead it. I chose to have a discussion about classroom management. I framed the initial part of the discussion with the following three words: engagement, procedures, and respect. I will write a blog post about this really soon. Anyway, after talking about this for a few minutes, the conversation began to shift into the realities of discipline in an urban, poor, ninth grade class filled with immigrants. We were out of my comfort zone and area of “expertise.” The conversation was fantastic, though. Turns out, it was the same two new teachers from the first session. These are two to watch, filled with ideas and passion.

Lunch followed and was long and conversation filled. Tasty food, too.

For the third session, I chose a conversation about the three ways to get people on board with social media in schools. Very interesting conversation with a variety of opinions in a small group. I think the two new teachers from the morning were stalking me.

The last session a smackdown. There were three resources mentioned that I am interested in exploring:

All told, it was a fun day. Like all edcamp-type events, I learned. Most important though, I connected.