Sunday, October 20, 2013

Connected Educators, Twitter and The Edscape Conference

Getting connected...

I joined the Twitterverse about two years ago.  Like many educators I talk to now (not presently connected online), I had many misconceptions about the use of Twitter, and plenty of doubts about what it could do for me as a professional. I really didn't think that being connected on Twitter could, or would change me as an educator. I felt that I was connected to other educators in my area, and particularly in my own district, I maintained membership in professional organizations, and read current research; I figured that was enough. I was wrong, really, really wrong.

I could never have imagined the positive impact that being connected to other educators on Twitter would have on me professionally. The people I have connected with inspire and challenge me, and my thinking about education just about daily.  The discussions about current trends in education, best practices, the education reform agenda, leadership and learning, are nothing short of amazing.  Witnessing the dedication and thoughtful reflection of so many other educators energizes me, and compels me to reflect more deeply on my own practices, and beliefs about teaching and learning.

I began the way so many of us do, by lurking.  I did some homework, and looked for some of the key players, and began following who they followed.  I took some of the "Who to Follow" suggestions from Twitter, and then I lurked.  I tried to pick up on some of the nuances of Twitter and the Twitter etiquette.  I started slow.  I followed chats, and began to retweet comments or questions that struck me.  Then I began to contribute.  It didn't take long for me to realize how this social media tool could be transformative, and a real game changer. Connecting to other educators on Twitter has done nothing short of changing my professional life.

If it wasn't for Twitter and being a connected educator....

  • I would have not learned about George Couros (@gcouros) and the amazing work he does around innovation. Let alone have the opportunity to meet him. 
  • I would have never believed that I could participate in professional development in my pjs, while sipping coffee on a Saturday morning. Thank you to #satchat and its founders @bcurrie5, @wkrakower and @ScottRRocco. 
  • I would not have realized how many of us are seeking out answers to common questions, looking for best practices and how universal some things really are. Shout out to one of the first chats I participated in regularly #CollabEd and the co-moderators @askteacherzcom and @JamieArmin.
  • I would have never met so many talented people, and imagined connecting in the ways that we do virtually.
  • My class would not be connected to the global community in the way that we are now. Check out our class Twitter account @LuceClassPage.
  • I would have never learned about Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal) and the amazing work he is doing in New Jersey or the exceptional conference he and his team organizes each year (#edscape)
This list could go on and on, but I would like to instead spend a little time today focusing on the Edscape Conference that took place yesterday.

The power of #edscape

The Edscape Conference is orchestrated by Eric Sheninger, principal of New Milford High School and a dedicated, connected educator.  He and his team organize the conference around innovative teaching and learning.  It is an opportunity for educators, with a wide variety of backgrounds and professional responsibilities, to gather and share on a wide variety of topics related to teaching and learning. For many of us, it also becomes an opportunity to meet in-person the people we are connecting with online each week. The conference is held on a Saturday at the New Milford High School campus and is supported by a number of corporate sponsors.  This year's conference drew, and connected about 400 educators from 11 states, and Canada. You can learn more about the specifics of the conference here:

The feeling yesterday at the conference was electric. By no exaggeration, this was hands-down the best professional development day I have ever had - period. I am struggling to put into words just how powerful this conference is and the impact that it will have on so many teachers and students. It really is something that needs to be seen to be believed.  If you would like to see some of the learning and reflection that came out of the presentations be sure to check out the backchannel (the real-time online conversation about the presentation topic/speaker) by using #edscape.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank publicly Eric Sheninger, his team (which by the way includes some of his students!) and the corporate sponsors for their hard work and dedication to this effort. Thank you for the opportunity to learn, to share, to grow as a professional. xo