Professional Development Opinion

Professional Learning From Coast To Coast

By Starr Sackstein — July 14, 2015 2 min read
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The schedule board was a blank grid when we arrived early today. I’m early for everything, even in the summer on my own time.

Learning at any time when it’s chosen by the learner is worthwhile and therefore is worthy of excitement.

I’ve been planning to attend the #edcampldr in the Hamptons for a long time and I even got one of my colleagues from work to attend with me. I always count that as an added bonus when I can share awesome new learning experiences with people I respect and admire.

Today was no different.

Full of lots of great networking and learning, the day did not disappoint. Starting with kick off with #NYedchat and a light breakfast, gatherers signed the board to set up the schedule. For folks who don’t know, edcamps are “unconferences” as they are largely unplanned until the day of the event.

With a great variety of sessions, choosing the right ones is always a challenge. There were only three sessions which was definitely a good amount. Not too much or too little. All three sessions I attended offered something valuable.

One challenge I faced was deciding whether or not to present. Lately, I’ve been front and center too often and sometimes, it is really nice just to listen and take in so that it isn’t about me and my message. I’m so glad I was quiet today. I was able to take in far more than I would have if I decided to present.

My first session was called “Teacher Peer Observations” and it was about setting up structures to help teachers observe their peers to improve the learning environment in the school community. The presenter had a great humor and addressed many important issues that will directly help me in the fall. The questions that were presented were fair and thoughtful.

Second session, I co-facilitated (but took a back seat) on “Creating Innovative Cultures” based on an Edutopia article “5 Ways Creativity Fuels Innovative (and Joyful) School Cultures”. The room was full with administrators and a couple of teachers who shared amazing ideas for generating an authentic growth mindset using genius hours and social media to share their school’s story. As I listened to the administrators share how they support staff, I was feeling inspired by their commitment.

Lunch was a great time for networking and sharing ideas about earlier sessions and meet new friends.

The last session was a fun on called “Rocks or Sucks” and it challenges ideas about educational issues. Through a Google hang out we collaborated with the Boston #edcampldr as we shared our ideas about topics like homework, Common Core, network filters, high stakes testing, textbooks and tenure. It is always fascinating to hear where other teachers stand and why. This session was the hardest to stay quiet through, but I enjoyed listening to my peers share their ideas.

By the smack down at the end of the day, it was a tremendously satisfying feeling knowing that we are all better together.

From this learning high, I prepare to head out to the west coast to ECET2 in Seattle. It is here where I will reconnect with some new friends and learn about being a teacher coach.

These learning experiences remind me of what school should be like for students. Kids should be completely engaged in their learning, start to finish, that’s the most valuable kind of learning there is.

What have you learned this summer? Do you have anything planned? Please share

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