Sunday, November 30, 2014

Entry into the Edcamp World

After returning my niece to her family following the Thanksgiving holiday, I got home to see tweets from tonight's #nctlchat. The topic for tonight was edcamps. This made me think about my own edcamp experiences.

For quite awhile now, I have watched edcamp tweets from afar. Timing and distance have always presented a barrier when it came to actually attending an edcamp. Finally a couple of weeks ago #edcampwnc was held in Cullowhee. I was so lucky that I got to socialize and learn with some of the awesome members of my PLN. It was also great to meet some new educators. 

To be honest, I did not know what to expect from my edcamp experience. I am such a planner and organizer that the lack of an agenda made me uncomfortable. Oh, how I hate to admit that, but it is the truth. However, the development of the agenda went incredibly smoothly. The organizers used Google Moderator. This was my first time seeing Google Moderator in use. Participants were able to provide possible topic ideas and then vote on those of interest. The top 16 were used to form the agenda. Each time slot featured a topic of interest for me. The ability to just have a conversation with a group of educators was wonderful. It is so rare that educators have the opportunity to do that. 

The implication of edcamps for professional development have yet to be realized in my opinion. I hope we will eventually see administrators embrace similar styles to meet professional development needs. Imagine the day when teachers have the opportunity to share ideas about topics that interest them and have true implications for their work. No more would we be sitting in professional development that either isn't applicable or something we have already mastered.

After experiencing my first edcamp, I encourage you to find an edcamp near you. You will not only learn a lot, but you will also make connections that will extend learning beyond just that day. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Creative Chaos

It is interesting to me that as I work with other teacher librarians, I find myself encouraging them to embrace chaos. I recognize that fear and uncertainty I see in their eyes when I say that. For all librarians order has always been the name of the game, but the game is changing.

Libraries are undergoing an evolution. Makerspaces, flexible learning spaces, authentic learning and so much more has changed the nature of that once quiet, organized space. In order to be the hub of our schools, we have to be on the cutting edge of student learning. In order to do this, many of us have to step out of our comfort zones.

In the first years of my career, I kept that orderly space. However, in later years, I began to let go of the control in some areas. This was the natural by-product of a collaborative project with a teacher. Throughout the project I expended a great deal of energy trying to control the creative chaos that emerged from students that were truly engaged with their learning. In reflecting on the process, I quickly established that there were better ways to expend my energy. Students were engaged, and they were on-task. What was I stressing about? I was the one with the issue, and I needed to let go.

For the next large scale project, I structured things a little differently in order to make the space more functional, but I stopped stressing about the chaos. The chaos was learning and wasn't that the most important thing? That is not to say that those nagging issues didn't pop into my head sometimes, but I got better about pushing them to the deep recesses of my brain.

Begin retraining yourself to embrace the creative chaos around you. You will be amazed at what emerges from the disorder. It has the ability to not only change you but the culture of your school as well.