EdCamp Philly reflection 1

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

On Friday night, I was considering sleeping in and skipping EdCamp Philly completely. I’m secure. I can be honest. It would require waking up at work time and putting on some respectable clothes. Then Dan Callahan told me that I could wear jeans and a t-shirt. I’m not quite sure if that was the turning point, but it was part of the turning–so much easier to get out of bed when it involves sensible clothing.

photo: Betty Jane Neary

Let me cut to the chase–EdCamp was well worth the effort and alarm clocks (plural). I will get to the sessions in my next post but I thought that I would share a few survey thoughts. Obvious kudos to the organizing team and participants. The UNconference was well run and the attendees played by the rules of engagement and, honestly, demanded that this was the type of conference that they would want to attend. Connections were made–folks with whom I am sure to become longtime friends. Many of us scanned each room looking to see who else cared enough to attend; who else was fighting for their professional lives.

I presented on Expertise and–like many other presenters–never got to the end because the attendees had other questions and other ideas for the session. Not a problem. My only regret is, now knowing what to expect, that I would like to have decided upon my topic upon arrival as a few people had done. In the words of W. S. Burroughs, “Nothing like adding a modicum of challenge and danger to everyday life.” Now I know what to do next time.

Closing for now to say that these types of get-togethers are critical. How many times we have all felt alone in our zeal. In our love or hatred of technology, we have not found a sympathetic ear or understanding response. In our desire to learn and develop, we have been willing to be wrong and in the minority simply to produce quality conversation to no avail. In a metropolitan area of millions, there were attendees in the hundreds. Few of us were from the same school or even the same district. Such a great success this was, but we cannot allow the next one to come and go so easily. We must become activists and evangelists–fools for learning. What would we be willing to do and how far is too far if it means that our selves, our colleagues, and more importantly our students would benefit. Can you draw that line in the sand?

The excitement will wear off. The conversations will become less frequent. That is, unless we make decisions today about our behavior. Bringing this back to Expertise: What will you do in terms of improving in your own domain? From whom will you seek mentoring? To whom will you provide mentoring? How will get get practice in your area?

Make decisions. Make them soon. Stick to them.  More to come.

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