Over 14,000 educators across the state of California gathered for the first California Teachers Summit taking place at 33 colleges and universities. In an effort to empower those in attendance, part of the day was designed to bring the Edcamp unconference model in and allow voice and choice.
You may be wondering why I was involved if I’m not a California teacher. Well, my friends in the Bay Area have already adopted me…AND the Edcamp Foundation asked me to help. How could I say no to a trip to Bakersfield at the end of July?
Friday was truly a special day for the 500+ attendees at CSU Bakersfield because I got to introduce them to Edcamp. The CSU Bakersfield staff were a little anxious about the two hour chunk of time that had no set schedule, but I promised them that they could trust me to help guide everyone and to also trust the process. Sure, there were people that were uncomfortable. There were also skeptics. But I saw a session board grow in front of my eyes in five minutes and I knew that they were ready. With the reminder to contribute to the conversation, use the rule of two feet, and a little luck…they were sent on their way. As I walked the campus making my way into a variety of sessions, I could feel the energy. It was electrifying. It was invigorating. People were sharing, taking notes, and learning.
As we ended our time, there were takeaways shared through a Padlet. The overwhelming majority of comments were positive and reflected the same energy that I witnessed. As the day drew to a close, all attendees were once again asked to reflect on their day and share their thoughts with the group. Several people highlighted choice of learning, getting the opportunity to learn from others, sharing best practices, and building community. It is through the California Teacher Summit and the Edcamp unconference that these highlights came to be. Because, we are better together.
There are over 14,000 educators that experienced a little slice of an Edcamp; And for that, my heart is happy.
December of my senior year in high school, I gave into the voices and tried to end my life. I was behind the wheel of my dad’s car and a dark road spread out in front of me. Tears stained my face and I was set on making the pain end. 5 miles from my house, I tried to run the car off the road into a power pole. I truly believe that God stopped me before it was too late and I was able to pull the car back onto the road. It was in this moment that I recognized my depression and asked for help.
This event seems so long ago, and yet it’s not. There have been other dark places since. But I know that it gets better. I know that depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts still exist in my life. There are days that they show their faces and I retreat into myself. My extroverted self withdraws and wants nothing to do with anything or anyone.
Depression is real and can pull you under like the strongest riptide imaginable. Educators are not exempt from it. No one is. But talking about it is the first step. The more we talk about mental health as a whole, the more honest we can be. These candid conversations could mean more than we even know. I share my story among other educators that want to openly discuss mental health issues and support Project Semicolon through #semicolonEDU
My story isn’t over.
HOW IT WORKS
In the words of Nick Provenzano… I want people to ask us about this punctuation mark on our wrists so we can share our story. The more people know about mental health issues, the more we can get rid of the stigma. The more we get rid of that stigma, the more people will feel comfortable sharing their stories. We need students to feel comfortable sharing these feelings with their teachers and we need teachers to better understand mental health so they can support these students and their colleagues. It is not a fun conversation, but it is one we need to have if we want to help people and possibly save lives. There is something all of you can do to show your support.
I would love to see pictures across the Internet from all of my PLN on Tuesday, July 14th with a Semicolon drawn (or tattooed if you are up to it) on your body to show support for all of the educators dealing with mental health issues. Use the tag #semicolonEDU to show your support on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Let’s show the world that we can come together and fight mental health stigmas by showing our support for one another. I know we can do it. Read Nick’s full #semicolonEDU post here and read Joe’s story here
The past few weeks have afforded me the opportunity to attend several great conferences where I was able to learn, connect, and share. It’s so refreshing to be able to do all of those things. Which made me question why it was so great to be able to do ALL three and not one over the other.
Learning: I love learning because I never want to stop soaking up all the knowledge and goodness of this world.
Connecting: I love connecting because my social being craves interactions with others. Tell me your dreams, your ideas, or your mistakes. I will share mine. We can learn from one another and develop deeper relationships.
Sharing: I love sharing because this world can already be such a selfish place, so I want to give back to those that shared with me and beyond. Much like Dean Shareski has said, it is our moral imperative to share. We can learn so much from sharing, so let’s do it.
I am thankful for the friends and colleagues that allowed me to learn, connect, and share at SETDA, ISTE, and Sugar Valley Tech Summit. I continue to grow as an educator, leader, and person because of you.
Conversations in my workplace and among my peers from other state departments have me thinking a lot about silos lately. They seem to be literal and figurative these days. We want more collaboration in our own workplaces, among different teams, and between PK-12 schools, service agencies, postsecondary, and business/industry. Yet we remain siloed and silent.
We claim to be working together…and some of us are. There have become great models of collaborative relationships that are mutually beneficial and support students. Which is why we are all here, right? Yet, we have so much more to do.
It was such a great experience to partake in the Instructional Improvement System workgroup with the Education Information Management Advisory Consortium through CCSSO. It is my hope that the conversations that took place, carry on, and move in a forward progression to be able to work with one another. It makes me giddy at the thought…states working together to share valuable resources. We would model the very thing we’re asking our schools and students to do.
I envision siloed and silent no more. I promise to try to make this happen.
February 4th, 2015 was the last time I sat down to blog and reflect through writing. I started off strong this year…and yet here I am 57 days after my last post. So what went wrong?
I can blame time. I can blame not wanting to write. But if I’m being honest, it’s because I’m not reflecting or even taking the time to reflect. And there have been some amazing things that have happened in 57 days. No, really.
Highlights would include: completing my first Whole30, not stopping, and committing to a Whole100; speaking at my first international conference in Mexico where my Spanish quickly returned; celebrating the 10th anniversary of the YP Summit with some of Omaha’s best Young Professionals and learning some great things in the process; enjoying the 5th anniversary of EdcampOmaha with our highest number of attendees; and finally joining Bellevue Public Schools’ first student authors showcasing their published iBooks for the NeBooks Project.
These are big events, folks. And I let them slip by without taking the opportunity to process things learned, seen, felt, or heard. For that, I am sad. It is in this process that learnings become concrete and memories become very tangible pictures. I am not reflecting, and therefore I am not allowing myself to grow.
It is my hope to change this. I want to grow. For me, that starts with reflecting.
When Josh and I started thinking about things we wanted to do for EdcampOmaha’s 5th anniversary, we thought about swag. Naturally. Come on, we’re teachers that still like a solid shirt that we can proudly wear and talk about. We have certainly been able to do that with the past two EdcampOmaha shirts. They have been logos that we are proud to wear in an effort to spread the word about EdcampOmaha and the Edcamp movement, as well as recognize the educators that have been a part of EdcampOmaha.
It is in that same spirit that we wanted to include Greater Omaha’s new campaign “We Don’t Coast“. This campaign gets at why it is we are Omaha. We chose to be in the center. We Don’t Coast.
So when it comes down to bringing these two powerful movements together…
EdcampOmaha … We Don’t Coast. We Empower Educators.
This is a bold statement that captures the spirit of EdcampOmaha and Edcamps in general. We believe teacher-driven learning can change professional development. It is about choice and empowerment. We hope you choose to join us for this learning opportunity at EdcampOmaha on March 21. Registration is open: edcampomaha.wikispaces.com
#youredustory Week 4 prompt: What is the best thing you do in your classroom/school/district/job?
I struggled with writing this last week. There were so many other things on my mind and I couldn’t narrow my focus. I love my job as the eLearning Specialist & School Library Liaison. It is certainly not a classroom teacher role. In fact, sometimes I can’t even tell you what it all is.
Last week, NDE employees were invited to an open meeting to discuss “projects, people, processes”, as part of some work that the Commissioner is doing after reading Ken Miller’s The Extreme Government Makeover. Those that attended, worked in small groups to list the responsibilities of our specific roles and the barriers we face. Our responsibilities varied, but our barriers were all pretty much the same. When it was my turn to talk about my responsibilities, the one word that kept coming up was relationships. I don’t “do” relationships, per se. But developing relationships has been my greatest priority and responsibility.
Relationships play a vital role in my job. They have allowed me to work with almost every team at the department in some capacity. They have allowed me to take part in conversations with key stakeholders across the state. They have allowed me to participate in dozens of trainings, workshops, and in-services at the educational service unit (ESU), post-secondary, and school district levels. They have provided me the ability to still get into the classroom when I just need to be around kids again. They have led me to where I am. These relationships have helped me develop this role into something that didn’t even exist 20 months ago.
My relationships have challenged me. Allowed me to take risks. Encouraged me. Allowed me to be a voice. Helped me see my potential. And do it all for Nebraska educators and students.
How are you developing relationships? With your students? With your colleagues? Beyond your school? I challenge you to look at the relationships in your professional and personal life. What do you see?