It was a great day at EdcampLDR yesterday in Philadelphia. Sessions at any conference/unconference can be hit or miss – either engaging, well-facilitated, edgy conversations that push attendees to think about ideas they wouldn’t consider in a normal day, or more traditional stand/deliver conference sessions where an “expert” seems to be pushing their brand. At the end of the day, the sessions I participated in were of the former and not the latter, making the day particularly worthwhile.
I had the opportunity to attend four sessions:
- Edcamp @ your district – asynchronous, personalized, differentiated
- Edcamp for students
- Using Periscope in EDU
- Innovating higher ed
Thanks to the facilitators for guiding rich conversations that led to more takeaways for me than I have at most of the traditional conferences: the possibilities of Edcamp style PD in-district, becoming more conscious of student voice in all aspects of our educational system, how new technologies such as Periscope will disrupt our system (for good or bad), and how we might move higher ed to so that future educators – teachers and leaders – are well-prepared to enter and move forward a re-imagined system of education. All valuable ideas that came to the surface through engaging conversations.
In addition to new ideas, I left the day with two big questions:
- Why weren’t more school leaders in attendance? The event had a healthy attendance of about 150 eager participants, many new to the Edcamp experience. (There were also other sites around the country and across the world talking about many of the same issues.). But where were those with the most influence? More superintendents, even school board members. What does it take to get leadership to these kinds of event to understand the urgency for change?
- Why are leaders still throwing up blocks to change, even if so subtle? “We could never provide every students access to a device; but it’s not a priority of the state department of education; the tech department blocks that.” Aren’t these really just excuses to avoid more challenging conversations? Why can’t you provide a device for each learner or let them bring in their own? Start a conversation if you believe it’s that important. Not a priority for the state department? Make it your priority. Let’s stop waiting to be told what to do – blaze our own path if we think it’s right. We can practice this inside and outside our organizations. Tech department is lock and block? Push back hard and ask for what reason. Maybe there is more context I need to understand within the individual instances I was hearing, but my general takeaway is that as leaders we need to be more aggressive in creating urgency for change, on all levels.
How do we engage more school leaders in PD opportunities that prompt us to think about the urgency to change our system? How can we take a more aggressive approach in creating that urgency both inside and outside our organizations?