Okay, so pre-conference, I wrote this blogpost, where I outlined what I hoped to learn from attending #edchatNZ. In it, I specifically listed these learning goals:
- I want to learn more about design thinking and to feed that obsession.
- I want to learn more about breaking down silos and encouraging traditional schools to shift.
- I want to learn more about how to be an effective agent of change.
- I want to learn more about the modern learning environment of Hobsonville Point Schools.
- I want to learn more about being a future-focused educator.
I guess it would be fair to begin by charting my progress towards these goals.
- I attended Diane Cavallo‘s Design Thinking workshop. It was great to actually experience design thinking firsthand after spending so much time reading and learning about it. I can certainly attest to the fact that it is a challenging process and gets the learning juices flowing. (It was also fun to play with playdough. Oh. I mean prototype.) Steve Mouldey‘s session on creative confidence was awesome for this too. Having to rapidly ideate was an interesting experience. And I just loved hearing his blogposts, which I have been devouring for some time, ‘live’. A real conference highlight for me.
- Mel Moore‘s workshop on breaking down silos was a total eye-opener, as I blogged about previously. It was really brought home to me how easy it is to create a truly cross-curricular course in a matter of mere moments. This ease of this suggests how rich the opportunities are to work like this, and also how closely this mimics real life, as opposed to our utterly artificial discrete subjects.
- I’m not so sure I learnt more about being an effective agent of change. Not because the opportunities weren’t there for me to do so, but that I wasn’t quite in the frame of mind to absorb this. I was, however, hugely supported, and I want to say more about this shortly.
- I was gutted to miss Maurie Abraham‘s guided tour of HPSS – my fault for working off a draft programme instead of the real one! However, I did get to experience a class in session, and having read so many blogposts about the school and having been following so many of the staff on Twitter, I did feel I had a pretty good understanding of the school. Naturally, the spaces are beautiful and flexible. I was struck by the school’s ability to feel huge and intimate at the same time. The carefully designed break out spaces work well here to do this, I think. It’s certainly not about the beanbags (although I made a point of sitting in one!) it’s about the kind of relationships and teaching and learning the spaces allow. I hope to be able to explore these ideas further.
- I think rather than learning more about being a future-focused educator, I learnt that I am one, and I feel affirmed in this from attending #edchatNZ.
But what I think I really gained from #edchatNZ was the sense of comradeship. In her keynote, Danielle talked about being the ‘lone nut’ – a metaphor that has since gone viral in the #edchatNZ community!
But I learned that while I may be a bit of a ‘lone nut’ at my school, thanks to #edchatNZ I am not a lonely nut. Everyone is fighting the good fight to encourage schools to shift their pedagogical practice. For me Maurie highlighted the importance of this message when he commented that we already have 21st Century learners. Now we need the 21st Century teachers to support their learning.
More than meeting my PLN, my #edchatNZ comrades are a support group, fellow Twitter addicts and my champions. I was so amazed that educators on the forefront of the movement like Claire Amos knew who I was – and hugged me (sorry for being geekily star-struck, Claire. Next time I’d like to conduct myself more professionally and construct an actual sentence.) That there were teachers on Twitter who wanted to meet me! And thank me for helping them! (Wow, Kylie Ayson that blew my mind.) That innovative teachers like Alyx Gillett suggested I was one of her edu-heros! (Still think she was just being polite…)
I cannot really believe, looking back, what the #edchatNZ steering committee achieved – in four months, in fortnightly, half hour meetings, never having even met one another: a world-class conference. $20 a ticket. Over 300 delegates. I am so proud to have helped. I am so proud to have made a contribution to my profession.
To not continue fighting the good fight would be to let these passionate educators down. It would be to do a grave disservice to the youth of New Zealand. I feel in my bones and in my head and in my heart that what #edchatNZ promotes is the way education should be headed. Therefore I must continue, even in the face of strong opposition. I will keep dancing.