Today was a fantastic day of learning at EdCamp Hamilton. I have no doubt that my thinking and learning from today will make it into multiple blog posts, as I continue to reflect. This first post though was inspired by a blog post reply from a Grade 12 student that attended EdCamp today. Labika is a student that I’ve gotten to know through Twitter. She attends a local high school, and a number of her teachers are ones that I learn from on Twitter. She’s a very mature and thoughtful student that continually reminds me about the importance of student voice in education.
Just after lunch today, we had a conversation in the hallway. She was telling me some of her thinking about learning environments and sharing online. She raised some great points and interesting questions, and I asked her if she shared these thoughts in the sessions. Labika mentioned that at first it was intimidating to be in a room full of adults, and over time, she felt more comfortable and shared more. It wasn’t long after this conversation that we gathered back in the Drama Room for the Smackdown: coordinated by Sue Dunlop. Sue lined up some people to share, and then others were encouraged to chime in. I happened to be sitting beside Labika and behind one of her teachers, Melinda. Labika really wanted Melinda to share about Kahoot, and when she didn’t, we both encouraged Labika to do so. At the very last minute, Labika agreed. It was wonderful to see this student standing up in front of a group of adults and confidently sharing her thinking about a tool used in the classroom: speaking about the benefits that she saw from a student perspective. In my blog post comment to Labika, I mentioned how glad I was that she stood up and shared her thinking during the Smackdown. This is when she replied with,
The truth is that Sue Dunlop encouraged me a lot today. Last year, I spent the whole EdCamp behind the registration table. I tweeted a ton and joined in on many conversations online, but I didn’t go to the sessions and get involved. This year, Sue gave me a “gentle nudge” to leave the chair, go, listen, and chime in. And while I jokingly tweeted proof from the first session that I followed Sue’s advice, I have to say that I’m really glad that I did.
I learned a lot today. I listened a lot today. I thought a lot today. And I feel inspired to make some additional changes now and try some new things that I hadn’t considered before (check out future blog posts for more on this).
While I may have been able to learn some of these new ideas through the tweet stream, Sue’s push coupled with many friendly faces in the sessions, helped me jump into conversations that I may not have jumped into before and ask questions that I may have been reluctant to ask before. My one word for this year was getting “uncomfortable,” and I think today I needed someone to encourage me to do just that. Thanks Sue for being that person!
I didn’t make it to every session, but I made it to 3 out of 4. I was actually only going to go to two, but I overheard a great conversation about mental health and online sharing in the courtyard, and I got brave and went out to join in. Attending an Edcamp and going to sessions may not seem like a big accomplishment to many, but for me, this was hard, and I can definitely connect with Labika’s feelings today. She was not alone. But she found her voice today, and I’m really glad that I also found mine.
Sometimes no matter how old we are, or what our life experiences may be, we need “our people” to help us find our voices. I’ve had many “people” over the years — a number of which were at EdCamp Hamilton today — that help me do just that. I hope that everybody at today’s EdCamp found their “voice,” as we do need these varied ones — from students to parents to educators to administrators to community members – to help us move forward in education. Who are your “people?” How did they help you find your voice? and/or How did you help others find theirs?