Yesterday, I want to my very first edcamp and the first edcamp that has been offered in Calgary. It was a very cool experience to see over 250 teachers gathered in one place from every discipline with one common interest, students. No matter if we were scientists, or artists, secondary or elementary yesterday all that mattered was the fact that we are educators and that is really cool.
The day began with a Keynote presented by Dr. Ron Glasberg, Communication and Culture Professor at the University of Calgary. He talked about “Teaching our Students Innocence”. With this he used a Wizard of Oz analogy. Like the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Dorothy and the Lion, we need to teach our students Compassion, Creativity, Conciseness of Conscience and Courage. I appreciated Dr. Glasberg’s approach and philosophy of education as someone who is clearly very passionate about teaching.
The first session I went to was titled “BYOD” with Karen Pegler, Calgary Board of Education. BYOD is an acronym used for “Bring Your Own Device”. In this session several educators came together to discuss the concept of having students bring their own devices to school to promote their learning. There was a nice mix of teachers who were there to find out more about how this can be implemented and those who have already done so and seen success. 21st century learners are so connected through technology that we as teachers definitely need to be accepting and integrate this into our lessons, to promote learning. There is no point in using something that is just for show, or doesn’t increase students understanding. If used correctly, I think that technology can certainly increase student engagement and therefore promoting student learning.
Second, I went to a session titled “Open and Connected Learning” with Alec Couros (@courosa), University of Regina. The purpose of this session was to discuss how connected students (and teachers) are as 21st century learners. Whether we want to be or not, we are creating a digital footprint of ourselves and if we aren’t, someone is doing it for us. I took away two key messages from this session, (1) We need to educate our students about the vast wealth of knowledge that is available to them through the internet, while also teaching them how to decipher what is good information and how to connect with the right people to get the answers they are looking for, (2) Digital Citizenship, our students need to understand that what ever they put on the internet is there for life, it will affect them in the future and they need to be smart about their digital presence.
Finally, I was very fortunate to facilitate a session titled “Beginning your Teaching Career in an Age of Transformation”. The idea of this session was to allow teachers and students teachers to come together and talk about their experiences. We discussed ways to effectively receive and use information we are given in our evaluations as both student teachers and when working as teachers towards a continuous contract. With respect to evaluation, we came to the conclusion that it is best to be open-minded and thoughtfully consider the feedback that is being given so that we can effectively determine how this can fit our teaching style and our lessons to make us better educators. We then went on to discuss how the theory we are learning in class can be translated into the classroom. Most importantly how we can continue to teach authentically even when the going gets tough. One of the first year teachers said she has found it challenging with making the transition from student teacher to teacher to continue to remember that authentic learning should be our focus regardless of other demands. From the discussion, I think it’s important for new teachers to remember to continually engage in conversations with colleagues as we are all there to collaborate with one another for the betterment of our students.
I find myself extremely fortunate to have been able to take part in such a rewarding day. I look forward to going back next year!
Until next time,