Education is full of talk, but those words can be cheap and often fail to deliver. I myself can dazzle and woo a crowd with a few keystrokes and a thesaurus, but it’s the action of showing others (or even showing yourself), that holds the real power. This weekend in Philadelphia at EduCon 2.3, people showed me what matters.
I was surrounded by lovers of learning and they had no problem exuding the fact in everything they did. I listened to educators speak of their passion for students and saw them learning everywhere they were: in sessions, at the hotel, during dinner, or over a beer. I witnessed people getting fired up over their love (or hate) for MLA citation and term papers. I saw the actions of a group of individuals that care deeply about education and the students it is meant to empower. They were passionate, and passion matters.
My time at the Science Leadership Academy (SLA) demonstrated the power of students and staff that see their school as a learning community. While eating with some SLA staff Thursday night, it was announced that Friday, the first day of EduCon, would be a snow day. Chris Lehmann told us that emails and Facebook messages were pouring in from the students that still wanted to come. SLA is a family and they weren’t going to let some snow prevent them from showing off what they have worked so hard to create. During the weekend those students came alive as they ran the show and showed us how they work together to learn. The staff and students work hard and will anything for those in their community, because community matters.
I have met some of my closest and dearest friends through Twitter. I even found a brother along the way (we’re not technically related, but don’t get bogged down by the details). I love learning, but it has a more significant impact when I am learning in the midst of others that I know care about me and the success of my students. I saw groups of people all over SLA that cared about each other and took on the responsibility of supporting each other in the task of becoming better educators. I spent some wonderful time with my friends as other did the same, because friendships matter.
I fail to remember the last time I had such a great time learning with a group. The weekend was full of conversations that challenged me, made me think, and kept me smiling. During a session by Dean Shareski and Darren Kuropatwa, we were give the task of creating a photo or film trick in 25 minutes. We grabbed our phones and laptops and got to work. We had so much fun taking on that challenge and learning with each other. The nights were filled with bowling (Who knew Beth Still was secretly a pro?), karaoke, great conversations, and laughter. I had the chance to learn who these educators were beyond the classroom. I care for these people even more deeply now. The weekend was was a lot of fun, and fun matters.
What We Do Matters
Hundreds of educators from all over the world came to Philadelphia for a weekend, many on their own dime, to become better educators. Hundreds more spent their weekend joining us online. SLA students spent a snow day and their weekend putting on an education conference and providing an environment where we could learn and socialize. We had opportunities to share our expertise, learn more about our craft, and challenge our thinking. We did it, because in the end, we know it’s our students that will benefit, and that is why what we do matters.
photo: Alvin Trusty (Flickr, Creative Commons)