EdCampSTL – My First Brush With an UNconference

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TRUTH:  True learning comes when you want (feel you NEED) to learn something.

TRUTH:  Collaboration takes your places you never dreamed you could go on your own.

TRUTH:  Satisfaction comes from stretching yourself, pushing boundaries, and coming away invigorated.

Today was my first EdCamp.  Apparently, they occur all over the country in large cities.  Chicago had one today, too, and the official Dallas EdCamp Twitter member checked in online.  The best part about an EdCamp?  It’s an UNconference.

An unconference at it’s beginning is just a place with meeting spaces – some are smaller and more intimate for smaller conversations, some are larger to accommodate large audiences.  There is tech support, coffee and bagels, and a roster of people who have signed up (for FREE!) to attend.  That’s it.  No keynote speaker, no multi-page handout of breakout sessions with their descriptions.  No formality of sign-up sheets and stuck-in-the-boring-meetings.

Attendees check in, have an hour or so to mingle, and (most importantly) sign up to conduct the sessions.

Signing Up to Facilitate/Present

That means (gulp!) that if no one is willing to present something they are proud of or wanting to share, then there won’t be any sessions.

Fortunately, plenty of people signed up to present.  After much internal struggle, I, too, signed up.  I figured that if I weren’t going to expand out of my comfort zone of just watching, my experience would be lacking.  And what an experience it turned out to be!  We had a great discussion of what schools will have to look like as they evolve to meet the needs of the students, the teachers, and the community.

We started with literacy.  What will it mean to be ‘literate’ in 1, 5, or 10 years?  What is the future of textbooks?  That, of course, led to a discussion on authentic lessons, what the purpose of schools will be (training for jobs?  college prep?  education as a requirement for citizenship in a democracy?).  As with all discussions, the end point was not where I expected it to be, but it was the journey that mattered.

Thanks to all who participated in my session, more thanks to the organizers of EdCampSTL, and for everyone else, I hope you are able to attend an UNconference soon.

TRUTH: Professional Development should be inspirational and meaningful on a personal level – just like education.



6 comments on “EdCampSTL – My First Brush With an UNconference

  1. Your session set the tone for me yesterday. I love using technology in the classroom, but there are much bigger and more important issues we need to address as a body as well. I spent all day talking to others about issues that are not necessarily tech related, but are student learning related. I think the longest tech discussion I heard yesterday was the discussion of ebooks (and that wasn’t about the tech, but about the pedagogy!) Thanks for offering yourself up first, it was my session of the day.

    • Nick Cusumano @edtech4theatre.com says:

      Your session was an inspiration to me. So often when educators go to conferences, we only attend conferences organized by subject area or positions. What a great mix of educators, we had in the session. Librarians, principals, elementary secondary teachers, business people with a passion for education discussing what it means to be a Bold school. Thank you again for reminding about why I became a teacher and providing a view of a brand new world of education that is emerging.

  2. chris mcgee says:

    Matt, Thank you so much for attending and helping make edcampSTL a success!

  3. Wonderful reflection of the day. I love that many were open to being first time presenters. I think we all have something to share. We also all have topics we want to discuss. Thanks for being BOLD. It was great to meet you at EdCampSTL Matt! I look forward to learning and sharing with you.

  4. matthewweld says:

    William, Nick, Chris, and Stephanie – Your comments hearten me and will push me to do more as I join all of you and the rest of our colleagues in doing what’s ultimately best for our students. Keep in touch!

  5. […] EdCampSTL – My First Brush With an UNconference | Alluding to Grandeur That means (gulp!) […]

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