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,
This comment of hers really got me thinking. It was then that I sent her this tweet:
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?
Awh Aviva this made me cry.
Such a beautiful blog on how
Amazing today truly was!
I am glad that you have Sue! She sounds like a fantastic person to have around.
This reminds me of a similar experience of when I attended a breakfast last year and refused to give a pledge in front of 250 Ss because I was nervous. However, this year with the support of my volunteering group, the young woman’s advisory council, I felt comfortable to give a pledge in front of 500+ Ss.
It is lovely how we can grow in a year and in a day.
Thanks for your comment, Labika, and for sharing your similar experience. I think that at different times, we all need those people to encourage us to stand up, to share, and/or to try something new. Sue was definitely that person for me yesterday. I was lucky though to have others at EdCamp that are, without a doubt, also “my people” (thanks Kristi (@kkeerybi) and Jo-Ann (@jcorbinh)). They’ve both pushed me outside of my comfort zone and/or encouraged me many times before, and I’m glad that I’ve listened and learned from them. Sometimes we all need “our people.”
Aviva, I’m very glad you stretched way beyond your comfort zone at Edcamp Hamilton. What a wonderful way to be true to your #oneword. And let’s be honest, my nudge wasn’t so gentle, yet you graciously accepted the challenge.
The best thing about Edcamp for me is always the connections! And connecting with you, either online or in person, is always fun.
Thanks for the comment, Sue! I think that your “push” was just the one that I needed to get outside of my comfort zone, stay true to my #oneword, but even more than that, get the most from this EdCamp Hamilton experience. I got to connect with some old friends and make some new ones. I’m glad that you pushed in the way that you did … I definitely need that sometimes! 🙂
It’s always wonderful connecting with you too. Glad that EdCamp Hamilton was such a success. Now I’m looking forward to next year! Maybe I can make it to all four sessions: a new goal. 🙂