Reflections from EdCamp Leadership 2014

wordleedlpThis past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Philadelphia PA to attend Edcamp Leadership.  It was a gathering of educators from 10 different states as well as a handful of Ontario educators.  Last year, I attended a similar conference in New Jersey and was excited to interact, once again, with many of the educators whom I follow on Twitter.  This was my fifth EdCamp experience and it proved, once again, to be an opportunity to “listen, learn and share” with like-minded leaders.  As I review my notes, there are several key themes that resonated with me and a few more which caused great, deep and sometimes heated conversation on our 11 hour drive home.

One common thread within each session was the question as to how to connect others to social media.  Tom Whitby succinctly shared that “the worst advocate for being a connected educator is a connected educator”.   If that is true then how will we get our colleagues to see the benefit of using social media to engage their staff, their students and their parent communities?  images (2)

We’ve experienced the same challenges when it comes to sound pedagogy in the area of inquiry based learning, problem solving or comprehensive literacy instruction.  Those who are doing it, can’t imagine a world without it and can’t imagine why others aren’t submerging themselves in this vast array of professional learning and resources.

Another phrase which was shared by Jay Eitner (New Jersery superintendent) was “that being connected flattens hierarchy”.  I have come to find that to be one of the most meaningful advantages of social media.  Within 140 characters, one can easily read the thoughts, views and opinions of others from all walks of education as well as reach out and seek information, resources or clarification.  I’m continually amazed when authors like Todd Whittaker and Dave Burgess reply to a Tweet as if they were the teacher next door. I love that!  Within many organizations, you see the interaction between directors, superintendents and first year teachers ~ all very seamless.  The common goal of professional learning transcends any hierarchy of position, paycheck or personal agenda.

For me Edcamp is a fine blend of new resources (can’t wait to try out Smore, Teachercast and and thought provoking discussions.   At Edcamp Leadership there was a distinct camaraderie between many of the Edcamp Leadership organizing team and some of their inside jokes were lost on us “out of towners”,  but at the end of the day, using social media and various technology tools to have an impact on the learning of others (leaders, teachers, students and parents) was at the heart of each conversation.

It was a privilege to spend a day in Philly with connected, concerned and caring educators.

Have you ever attended an EdCcamp?  If so, what resonated with you?

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School Improvement Networks

< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /> This year, our school board embarked on School Improvement Networks as a method of building capacity and developing best practices at all levels of the organization.  Our school was partnered with three others in our Community of Schools ~ all of varying school populations and school communities.

In working with my colleagues, we wanted to ensure that our sessions were going to be meaningful for the teachers, as we appreciated that time out of the classroom is never ideal as our students do best when their regular teacher is working with them.  We needed to find a common focus that would allow teachers from different schools and teachers with varying levels of understanding of the learning continuum “bond” on a variety of topics.


Keeping the focus of our dialogues on student work, as a springboard for the activities, allowed teachers to share their stories more freely.  Our goal was to “push” the discussion past the story swapping and past the mutual aid stage, to a place where teachers challenged each others’ thinking. Steven Katz’s video ~ “How do Networked Learning Communities work?” was a worthwhile resource to share with all teachers from JK to grade eight. In his discussion, he talks about the importance of building those relationships and ensuring that collaboration is focused.


 In order to facilitate that level of sharing, we needed to ensure that the stage was set for mutual respect and purposeful discussion.  At the end of each session we always asked for teacher feedback and took that into consideration when planning our sessions.  It became evident, through their comments, that teachers wanted time with each other to share work, to share strategies and to network. We developed an online sharing site, “Sharing Success” where staff could post lessons, ideas and strategies.


As an administrative team of presenters, as we reflect on our year long networking sessions, we were pleased with the level of engagement and pleased with the fact that we saw growth in teacher practice at all of our schools. We also know that our own practice improved as we were afforded the opportunity to plan and present together and to work with staff members from different schools.