EdcampTO

I attended EdcampTO this past weekend, my first Edcamp experience.  In this challenging political climate, it was such a great way to re-energize and re-connect with folks who are passionate about learning and education. 

Things I really liked about Edcamp:

  • Not an exclusive audience, we had parents, business people, higher education representatives, public and privately funded education stakeholders.
  • The grassroots approach to developing the agenda
  • The passion for learning by all those in attendance
  • Connections to other learners through twitter
  • The explicit understanding that we were all reflective learners and intend to share our thoughts, reflections and big questions in an online context

For the past four years I have had the luxury of being surrounded by reflective, connected learners in my work environment in addition to my personal learning network.  This year I am back in a school where my colleagues have a very diverse understanding and approach to their own learning, so the Edcamp experience feeds my need.

Best of all, this learning experience reaffirmed my own understanding that learning both online and offline is really all about the relationships.  Thanks to Edcamp I was immersed in the best of both worlds.

I know that this won’t be my last Edcamp so  I’m looking forward to Edcamp Waterloo, Peel and Hamilton!

Collaboration 2.0

I am preparing for the OLA Superconference. As I try to gather my thoughts about Professional Learning Networks I find I have a lot of ambiguity in my own thinking so I can only imagine how educators might find this concept overwhelming.

Teachers just want to do the right thing, they are learners, planners, schedulers, sometimes confessors to students and colleagues alike. Time disappears quickly in a day scheduled away by lessons, bells and curriculum, so outside of the box thinking is a challenge, but much needed.

Enter the concept of The Learning Commons. Makes sense for all TL’s in this day and age to embrace this idea and move this forward. It sounds so easy, so sensible and so doable. So what are the challenges? The “ya buts”? I can think of so many myself and I’m sure TL’s all over Canada can do the same. However, in order for learning and education to keep up with the 21stC speed of learning there really is no other option.

Having a powerful professional learning network is really nothing new to effective teachers, teacher librarians and learners. We embrace this through our work in PLC’s in our schools. The web allows us to move this learning beyond the institutional walls and turns us into global learners. This is learning in this day and age. It is learning that our youth assume is the norm. How do we engage our school districts, our various teaching federations and our site based administrators in this conversation? It’s a big task but one we really need to take on.

It’s all about relationships…..

Today we started out with the TLCP cycle in the secondary panel and concluded with a presentation about the Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy.  Both important topics in leadership to ensure student success but really focused on two different areas of student well being.  The TLCP focused on improving the literacy levels of students and ensuring their success academically but the Equity and Inclusive strategy discussion focused on the social and emotional well being of all students.  Both have student well being at the heart of their goals and both are entirely dependant upon relationship building and understanding every person’s personal narrative.

It seems to me this is a recurring theme…..Michael Fullan speaks about the importance of building relationships when we hope to move educators forward towards a new model of thinking in the 21st century.  The leadership framework has a big section about relationship building and developing capacity of staff.  In fact he has a chapter entitled in his article “Leading in a Culture of Change”  entitled “Relationships, relationships, relationships!”  Obviously, the focus on effective leadership is on people.  Makes sense in a people organization.  However, the idea of balancing Instructional leadership, managerial responsibilities, relationship building, my own professional learning and keeping abreast of legal issues, policy updates and changes is quite daunting.

I know that we are all responsible and accountable for our actions as educators, but I worry about balancing this responsibility with personal life.  I’m not afraid of challenging work but I worry about letting the job consume me.  My colleagues refer to teaching as the “job that never stops”  if that is the case in a classroom, how can it not be intensified as an administrator?