think B I G. think G R E A T.
My colleagues and I had a wonderful opportunity to attend the NAISAC13 conference on March 1st, thanks to the leadership of my school who funded our trip. It was a fantastic day to travel down town to Philly with the people I work so closely with. I was also very impressed that all of our admins and some of our board members came (some who are past and present parents). A day like this rarely happens, but it happened :-).
So lately, my trips to the Philadelphia Convention Center has been tied to conferences. Seeing massive crowds of educators and edu related people mean vis-a-vis meetings with teachers from my PLN or people whom I will connect with and learn from. But what was different about my experiences on March 1-2 was that these days were dedicated to independent schools and teachers.
It was my very first time attending the NAIS conference. I loved meeting teachers from independent schools around our country and having conversations about our classroom experiences. I attended sessions that pushed my thinking. I really enjoyed morning general session given by Dr. Tererai Trent, and the closing session by Dr. Cathy Davidson. Both women, graceful and displaying strong leadership, guided us to “be the champion of quality education” (Tererai) and to “move from critical thinking to creative contribution” (Davidson). I am inspired!
But something stuck out like a sore thumb to this music teacher.
Creativity and arts education are two important focus areas many independent schools are known for. If many (maybe all) independent schools are offering plethora of arts offerings to build a well-rounded student body, then why aren’t we seeing many arts related folks presenting and sharing their ideas?
Don’t misunderstand me. I really appreciated listening to students from Girard College and Baldwin School sing their hearts out before the morning and afternoon general sessions. The performances were inspirational and these moments remind us once more how music enriches our lives. And who can forget the graphic recordings by Five Elements? The recognition of the arts is not in question here, but rather, the presentation by the arts practioners is. What could be the reason for the big void? Lack of funding for IS (independent school) arts teachers to attend the NAIS conference? Not enough interest from the IS arts teachers for NAIS? Who can answer these questions?
I did, however, learned a great deal from a handful of sessions I attended in between the two general sessions I mentioned above. I listened to smart and inspiring IS teachers and thinkers who shared their practices. I want to think big now and hope to learn from many arts teachers when I attend future NAIS conferences. I wished that I had more time with people who came to NAIS! Luckily, the following day would be one of the most special learning day.
think T O G E T H E R at edcampIS: Saturday, 3/2.
I was very fortunate to work with the people above to organize edcampIS for 3/2 (absentia Jac de Haan). All of the communication and planning happened online (Google hangout, Google Doc, and emails). A handful of us had met through edcampPhilly or Educon, but most of hadn’t met until the morning of. It was an amazing way to plan for such an exciting day. It was invigorating to be with people who were excited to work to make this day of learning the best day for those who were trekking from NAIS conference to John Huntsman Hall of Wharton School (University Pennsylvania). Over 150 independent school and public school teachers from nearby tri-state areas registered to join us.
Edcamp is the BEST f2f free professional development. People who want to sacrifice a Saturday to learn from other teachers register and show up. And those teachers who have attended edcamps before come thinking about a session they might want to moderate.
- 112 teachers and administrators were in attendance! Wow!
- 21 posted sessions. Some of NAIS conference presenters also presented at edcampIS! I wished I had time to attend all of the sessions.
- John M. Huntsman Hall of the Wharton School of Business is a beautiful building. We were very fortunate to use the rooms there and have tech support from U of Penn!
- Arts colleagues, Dina and Evan, came and we shared our stories of collaboration and arts advocacy around our school community during the second session. I am so proud to work with them!
- 12 amazing sponsors donated money for breakfast and gifted cool prizes, and swags. They are so generous!
- Organizing team – did I mention they were great to work with? Everyone contributed to ensure the day ran smoothly.
- Learners who came (attendees): Having conversations make us connect to inspiring teachers in a great learning community. There were many conversations and connections made. It’s good to know that I’m not alone. Exchanging ideas and learning from seasoned and new teachers is such a privilege. The edcamp was designed for this kind of exchange in a pretty relaxed and fun atmosphere.
If you attended edcampIS, thank you! You made it great!
If planning opportunity for an edcamp comes your way, take it! Recruit many teachers as possible to work with you. You won’t regret it!
Now, where can I find an edcampArts?
- Teachers Unplugged – An unconference inside a conference (edtechpower.blogspot.com)
- #NAISAC13 here I come! (lorricarroll.wordpress.com)
- Reflections on #NAISAC13 – Part II. The message was clear. Now we must act. (andylammers.wordpress.com)
- @EdcampIS ’13 in Philly! (singimagination.wordpress.com)