Do I have to Leave? #EdCampNJ

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I have been looking forward to EdCamp New Jersey for quite a while. In fact, I was looking forward to this day since I left EdCamp Leadership. As the day drew near, I learned that I was going to have the opportunity to share with and learn from so many incredible educators (and a few spectacular parents in @artlaflamme and @gwenpescatore). I had thought nothing could quite compare to the excitement of my first EdCamp, especially in the pristine setting of University of Pennsylvania. I was wrong.

EdCamp NJ was even better than advertised. I came in hoping to maybe present once, but honestly to try to soak things up and absorb as much as possible. Instead I found myself (courtesy of Voxer) right in the middle of leading two sessions!

I learned so many things today. I want to share some quick highlights.
Session 1: Velcro Lessons: Making $%!# Stick- The incredible rapping ELA teacher… and what it ultimately comes down to, is being yourself, being personal, and being different. Kids remember people who care, that are honest, and a little different. If they remember you, what you are doing might just stick with them.

Session 2: There Are No Wrong Answers in Math w/ @shahlock Manan Shah. So many people have Math anxiety. He explains “wrong answers” in this way- You did it right, in your sphere, your language. When you step outside that sphere, the rest of us still don’t get it. If you find this uniform language of math, we can all understand what you are saying in your calculations.

Session 3: Making Your Reality PD with @drspikecook @bradcurrie and @spsantilli – The most memorable moment here was the story of Louisiana educator Paula Naugle who shared how becoming connected reinvigorated her career after 30 years. Paula is an incredible example for everyone. If she can explore with a growth mindset and reignite her passion, I have hope for any teacher who still loves kids.

Session 4: Schoolburger Building a Better School with Great Ingredients. The most interesting portion of this to me was about how we address policy. The most incredible policy document our country has is the U.S. Constitution. It is intentionally vague. It is open ended to allow for growth and change. Our school policies tend to be reactive, dealing with how to address something that went wrong. We need to be the policy writers, we need to create the examples from an open-ended, growth mind-set perspective to show the power of yes rather than the safety and limitations of no.

This is just a snapshot of incredible learning. A piece of an incredible puzzle of inspiration. While I was happy to get home to see my family, I was having such a great time with my edufamily that it was hard to leave. I wishing I could come back tomorrow.

I do know one thing- I cannot wait for #EdCampSoJersey in March! http://www.edcampsouthjersey.com

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Voxer, Velcro, and Marilyn Monroe for #EdCampNJ

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A few weeks ago as a means to foster connection and build excitement among some fellow educators for EdCampNJ, Chris Duane formed a group on Voxer. The result has been nothing short of magical. Many people are starting to use Voxer and it is a fun and exciting way to connect. Many groups are straight forward: discuss an educational topic, keep it short, share your voice, and move on. My favorite Voxer groups are quite the opposite.

In our EdCamp NJ group we are having a conversation as if we were already at EdCamp hanging out in the morning before sessions. We have gone from one fun, sometimes outrageous discussion to another, but from it we have come up with a session we really think will be spectacular.

Tomorrow at EdCampNJ a few of us will be facilitating the discussion on Velcro Lessons. (Some ingenious invention that helps learning “stick”) This concept is in the works and includes things as far fetched as a unicorn pulling a giant educate, to a music and mic drops. It has included a dance video (my apologies in advance) and maybe even a surprise visit from Marilyn Monroe! All of this has come from the power of incredible collaboration and sharing that is available when you share on Voxer!

We hope you will find your way to our session, it will surely be one that sticks!

Traditionally Speaking

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Just like a family, every school has its traditions. Some are incredible, some are seemingly pointless, and others seem downright strange. At Thanksgiving we focus on tradition because it always seems to be a holiday laced with it.

I am wondering how different schools view tradition. Sometimes I see traditions as part of the fabric of the school community. Other times they seem like they need to be updated and improved to achieve their original purpose (if anyone remembers the original purpose.)

What makes a tradition sacred and untouchable?
How do we make changes to those that need changing?
These are just some of the topics we will explore Thursday 11-20-14 at 10est. when we start talking about traditions!