OLA's Super Conference is just a few days away, but this weekend, in between the marathon hours sitting in front of the computer working on report cards (yes, I do report cards), I learned a lot from a conference I didn't even attend.
Educon was held in Philadelphia and many of the people that I follow on Twitter were tweeting about their experiences there. I retweeted many of the insightful ones (like having a day where you share moments when you did not succeed, or a good article quoted by Dr. Ross Todd about inquiry-based learning integrating technology). I looked up the hashtag (#educon) and read even more summaries, commentaries, and ahas! A parent attended and was upset by a comment someone said about the level of dialogue "back at school" to be dull compared to the conversations at Educon - they shared this on Twitter too. It reminded me of a couple of conversations I've had recently with school staff that have been "educon-level" for me.
That article Dr. Todd mentioned referred to grade 9s using flip cameras to record their readers theatre. Our grade K-2 team, as part of their inquiry learning PD, received flip cameras for them to use in the classroom, and one of the (talented, fantastic) grade 1-2 teachers sent me a private link to her flip videos, where a grade 2 filmed a math group activity and took it upon herself to ask her peers probing questions about the task they were doing. It was so cool to listen, even cooler for her to share the video with me, and super-cool for us to have that email discussion about the significance of the videos, what they showed, etc. (I'm a little sad that teacher-librarians don't get to be part of this K-2 PD, especially since inquiry learning was a big part of my MEd Teacher-Librarianship training > *waves hands in air* "hello folks, over here, we want in too, we do inquiry too!" - but thankfully the participating teachers are so eager to talk about what they are learning that I get a bit of a taste of it.)
I stayed until after 6:00 p.m. at school talking with the kindergarten teachers about inquiry and assessment. I was hooking up their brand new Ladibugg document cameras and they were spilling with ideas of ways they could use this new piece of technology in their classrooms. I asked them loads of questions about how they translate some of their video evidence into marks and assessment, and when you sense that it's time to move on to a new topic of interest, and they were happy to tell me their struggles and successes. One teacher was very frank about his philosophical/pedagogical shift from mastery learning/providing the basics to a more constructive approach.
My eager fellow colleagues, combined with all the information and ideas I learned over the weekend from the participants at Educon (and for those who are my IRL friends - you better share some more deets!), have enriched my personal PD. Don't get me wrong - I still enjoy attending a conference in person (especially one where I get to travel to new and exciting places), but learning opportunities abound all over the place!