How do I begin to reflect on a day that I have planned for 6 months?
Do I measure it in connections made? Friendships deepened?
Smiles? Hugs? Aha moments? Camaraderie? Ideas shared? Agreeable nods or thoughtful questions?
Yes, I will remember the first nErDcamp Northern New England for all of these things and so much more.
Let's back up a bit. Last summer, I watched with envy as Colby Sharp and his committee hosted the first ever nErDcamp in Battle Creek, Michigan. Through the tweets and live notes, I watched and learned along with them, but it was not the same as actually being there.
About six months ago my dear friend and PLN member Susan Dee asked if I would be interested in being on the planning committee for nErDcamp Northern New England. Everything Susan is involved in is amazing so I jumped at the chance. After two poolside planning sessions with our committee, nErDcampNNE was well under way.
We started out like this....
and ended like this.
For the next several months, we all did our respective tasks, sent more emails, Facebook meaasges and tweets than I care to count and participated in Google Hangout sessions. Before we knew it, Christmas was over and nErDcamp was almost here. The two weeks before the camp were busy and excitedly hectic with final details. It seemed surreal when the day finally arrived.
Committee Member Mary Lou Shuster stuffing 200 goody bags.
Along with some of our loyal, nerdy friends, the committee arrived very early to prepare for our participants. It was so much fun to see old friends and meet new ones as the high school began to buzz with excited nerdies.
Chairperson Susan Dee gives some history and a shout out to Nerdy Book Club.
The morning flew by with fantastic sessions. I attended a session about writing conferences and using Google Docs with educators in grades 4-8 and another about reluctant readers. I was struck by how freely everyone shared their thoughts and questions.
Lynda Mullaly Hunt shares the struggles of reluctant readers.
Then we gave out some of our "golden door prizes". That was a ton of fun. It was also touching to see educators so excited about winning an online course, a professional dvd or a book.
Although we were stuffed from our terrific lunch, and the snow was coming down pretty heavily, the afternoon went very well also. There seemed to be more of a technology emphasis where people wanted to learn more about Twitter and blogging with students. There was also plenty of talk about books!
Authors Julie Falatko, Megan Frazer Blakemore and Lynn Plourde lead a session
about making writing visible.
The die-hards that stayed until the end, despite the 5+ inches of heavy snow that had fallen, were treated to door prizes and LOTS of 'em!
I may not have mentioned this, but nErDcamp was put together on absolutely no budget, none. We relied completely on donations and sponsors for everything from the venue and the morning coffee, to the goody bags and door prizes. I was touched by the generosity of authors, publishers, organizations, companies and individuals. Because of them, we were able to provide a free day of learning for our participants.
As the day wrapped up, everyone I talked to was happy they had come and talked excitedly of next year. If all goes well, nErDcampNNE will be an annual event.
So there is a no-so-brief synopsis of the day. Yes, I learned a lot from the sessions and from my discussions with other nerdies. But what did I really take away?
My big realization was the fact that despite what some may think, many educators WANT to learn new things and improve their practice. However, they want to learn what THEY need to learn. Too often our professional development is a one-size-doesn't-fit-all type of development and teachers have little or no say in their own learning. nErDcampers were thankful for the opportunity to have long conversations, ask important questions, examine their own practice, and take charge of their own learning.
This was an important day for me and my professional learning. I am continually inspired by the expertise and enthusiasm of educators in my ever-expanding professional learning network.
Susan and I just before "kick-off".
Her nerdiness knows no bounds!
Many, many thanks to the amazing nErDcampNNE committee:
Jenn Felt, Kate Sullivan, Chris Pirkl, your truly, Justin Stygles
Cathy Potter, Susan Dee, Mary Lou Shuster
A group of nerdies who constantly inspire
me to be a better teacher!