Monday, July 13, 2015

Reflections on Edcamp Leadership

My school, Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, hosted an Edcamp Leadership in Melbourne, FL today. As I reflect upon hosting today’s Edcamp, I am exhausted, exhilarated, and proud. I participated in some great conversations, learned new things, and got to introduce many educators to one of my favorite forms of professional development. There were many inspiring aspects of the day, but one of the best parts for me was seeing educators from a variety of school environments sharing and learning together.

One of the things I love the most about the Connected Educator community online is that the politically created "divisions" between public, private, and charter school for the most part seem to disappear.  Our Edcamp Leadership participants were a mix of public, private and charter school educators. Many of them had driven long distances to attend the Edcamp - 2-3 hours or more - and paid their own travel costs. Most were not getting any sort of PD credit. They came because they were committed to improving their professional practice.  It was so rewarding to see educators from all around the state, teaching in a variety of education environments, come together to share ideas, resources and best practices. The conversations weren't about politics, religion, competition or money. The conversations were about making education better for ALL kids. Regardless of one's job title, that is education leadership.

One of my goals as a Connected Educator working in an independent school is to break down the stereotypes and barriers that prevent public, private and charter school educators from working together and learning from one another. The politicians certainly don’t make it easy! But I am committed to this effort. Although I currently work in an independent school, and love the school where I am at, I am the product of a public school education. My parents were public school educators and my grandchildren attend our local public schools. I taught in the public schools for 6 ½ years and am a passionate believer in public school education. I want every child to have a quality education, not just those who come from families wealthy enough to pay private school tuition. And I’m a firm believer that every teacher and every school should be judged on their own merits, not lumped into categories of “good” or “bad” based on where they work or how their school is funded.

Becoming a Connected Educator through social media platforms such as Twitter can help break down the stereotypes and misconceptions that educators sometimes have towards those who work in “different” school environments. Shared professional development opportunities such as Edcamps also provide great opportunities for educators to share and learn together. It is so important for educators to make connections with others, whether across a campus, town, state, or country. It can be so easy for us to view educators in alternative school environments as the “other,” and use that as an excuse to stay inside our comfort zone. But leadership comes from stepping outside that comfort zone and having the courage to do something different.

Whatever your role in education – whether you attended and #Edcampldr or were #NotAtEdcampldr - I challenge you to help bridge the public/private/charter/homeschool divide. Build a Personal Learning Network that includes educators from a variety of different backgrounds. Host an Edcamp and invite ALL educators to attend. Collaborate with educators at schools that are different than yours. We can all learn from one another, and so can our students. Let’s focus on professional growth and improving education for all kids, not just the ones in our building. Because doing what’s right for kids is what education leadership is all about!