As always happens when I spend a day of learning and connecting at a conference, my head spends some time processing what I learned. Yesterday was another Saturday, another day that my time was spent learning and engaging in professional development…it was awesome. I spent the day at Edscape, a fabulous day orchestrated by Eric Sheninger that kicked off with an amazing keynote by Josh Stumpenhorst. As my Twitter followers will attest, I couldn’t stop sharing out pieces of what he conveyed about pushing thinking around what we do as educators with, for, and to our students. That was followed up by an impactful talk by Lyn Hilt that again filled my twitter feed with key points to consider on today’s face of in district/school professional development.
The drive home had my brain putting all the pieces together….but there was something different in my mind than just the content and concepts I learned. It is something that I have noticed more and more of late after I attend conferences, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then I just read two great reflections by educators I value, Chris Casal and Starr Sackstein and reflected back to a post I did after EdCampNJ and it clicked. Chris and Starr were sharing what I was feeling. It wasn’t just about the conference, which in and of itself made the day so worthwhile with amazing educators sharing, it was about the connections.
After EdCampNJ and EdCampNYC last fall, I was able to meet in person people I had been connecting with on Twitter, and add a few more to that list. It was truly amazing to meet these people in person….but as the months went on these people went from not just being an occasional connection, to people I truly call friends. I knew the shift began when we all started not just connecting on Twitter, which for most of us is the professional space, but also on Facebook and Instagram. I recall it being kind of funny when it started happening, but these people are amazing and I truly feel lucky to have them in my life. So why does this matter with a conference? It’s the connections that make the day even more impactful.
I used to go in a conference, know no one, quietly go through the day of learning, eat lunch quietly with others who were doing the same, and go home to put all the days thoughts together on my own. Yesterday I got up early to drive eagerly to join Brad Currie, Billy Krakower and Scott Rocco on #satchat. I walked in the door and gave hugs to Starr Sackstein, and even Ross Cooper (he was just glad I brought pizza!) They along with Sandra Paul, Elissa Elliott Malespina, Rob Pennington, Jared Wastler, Chris Casal and Amy Traggianese, along with all the valued educators I mention in this post, became key parts in my day as we talked, tweeted, threw in some snarky fun, and just connected in the live space, as well as the virtual space. We discussed sessions to attend, what we wanted others to share with us from sessions we were not in, and lunch was spent in dialogue of what we had learned so far, what we were attending for the afternoon, what our personal/professional lives were up to. We attended each other’s presentations to engage, to document for the virtual world, and to support each other. At the wrap up we engaged in #selfies just to document our fun and friendships.
All along the day conversations were had about sessions, about the greater extensions of that, about our own professional lives and how we can support each other in that. Twice in the day a simple tweet had the very generous and kind-spirited Kyle Calderwood giving me things! (Susan Bearden he needs another TweechMe pin now!) It was amazing. The impact of being a connected educator means attending conferences is so much more engaging. I can talk with others to process ideas, collaborate on what it all connects to, and discuss ways to bring it home. The day then extends with our tweets, posts, Voxer chats and such as we continue the conversations. It makes a day of learning so much more.
Even at a post conference get together, the conversations were on what we heard, what we saw, what next conference would people be at, what book should they write, what presentation people could do together at another event…it was still about education, learning, students, and what impact we all could continue to make…and make together.
So thank you to all the amazing educators who are part of my PPLN (Personal and Professional Learning Network). You all make me a better educator and make my life that much sweeter.