I have just finished an unbelievable experience and am going to try to get all my thoughts down so that I can somehow share the impact that this trip had on me. This post may seem random to those outside of #kinderchat, but what it all boils down to is RELATIONSHIPS MATTER. #edcampkinder was a destination-specific EdCamp where 10 of the teachers from #kinderchat met in Las Vegas for four days of an “unconference” of Professional Development. Our meetings spanned the entire time we were in Vegas, but instead of being in a conference room, they had multiple locations…the airport, the hotel lobby, the street as we walked around the city, the pool, the restaurants we ate in and everywhere in-between. It was a four day, intensive conversation that had started on twitter and finally resulted some very special personal time.

The relationships that we had started online got so much stronger from the face to face time we had this week. As a group, we had tried to find a location that was central to everyone, and as inexpensive as possible. There were 10 of us attending in real life, and so many more educators Skyping or FaceTiming in to collaborate that the reach of #edcampkinder went global, as far reaching as Indonesia!

Real-life attendees of #edcampkinder were:

Michelle Hiebert @MauiMickey (BC)…that would be me!

Stacey Garrioch @Garrioch (BC)…my traveling companion and partner in crime! It was wonderful to share this experience with you and I can’t wait to get our classes together in real life after we connect them through twitter and #skypeplay.

Heidi Echternacht @hechternacht (New Jersey)…#kinderchat co-founder and my kindred spirit! Thank you for setting things in motion to have this unbelievable meeting of the #kinderchat minds. What an amazing thing that you and Amy have created. I loved that we PD’d in the pool!!

Amy Murray @happycampergirl (Alberta)…#kinderchat co-founder and queen of #kindersnark! Hey, we had shade at the pool! Your introspective, thoughtful comments always make me think and your #kindersnark makes me laugh.

Matt Gomez @Matt_Gomez (Texas)…Amy’s #kindertwin and Jon’s #kinderbro…king of the QR code, #teamnoglitter, #inappropriatechat and inspirational friend. Real men DO teach kindergarten!

Jon Fines @Mr_Fines (Montana)…Matt’s #kinderbro…your kind, gentle spirit was evident in every word you spoke. Your surprise attendance was WONDER-ful!

Mardelle Sauerborn @learningmurd (BC)…#fiercemurd, queen of #skypeplay, you ROCK! I really hope that we will be able to see each other again sooner than later. BC isn’t that big, is it?

Karen Lirenman @LirenmanLearns (BC)…I told you that #kinderchat would accept you from #1stchat with open arms! I am so sorry your flight was delayed, but glad that we could FaceTime you in to join us. I will see you again soon, I’m sure.

Marya Fonsh-Mielinski @Havalah (Massachusetts)…it was so great to get to know you and hear all about your school situation. Know that you are not alone and that your #kinderchat family are your support system!

Tasha Cowdy @tashacowdy (Japan)…I don’t even know where to begin. The fact that you came all the way from Japan to meet with us face to face just blew me away. It was truly AWESOME! I loved collaborating with you this year and I cannot wait to see where this next school year takes us.

Virtual attendees via FaceTime or Skype were:

Patty Johnson @tori1074 (New York)
Melva Herman @mrsmelva (Saskatchewan)
Erin Rocklewitz @erocklewitz (Wisconsin)
Sarah Jane Soltau-Heller @soltauheller (BC)
Patricia McNichol @pattymcn (Virginia)
Karen Lirenman @LirenmanLearns (in WA…stuck at the airport waiting to join us)
Jason Graham @jasongraham99 (Indonesia)…thanks for being my virtual #edcampkinder partner. It was great to see you and hear your voice!

I recommend you follow each one of these incredible educators if you don’t already. They inspire me…they challenge me…they make me a better teacher. I just wish they had all been able to be with us in person to celebrate the wonderful projects and connections we had made this year.

Random thoughts about #edcampkinder:

-Our “keynote” address came in the form of Lisa Murphy (@ooeygooeylady) who joined us for a drink and inspired us to keep doing what we’re doing. As an internationally known speaker and advocate for play in kindergarten (a big part of the #kinderchat philosophy), it was incredible to speak with her in a small group setting rather than in a conference hall of 700+ attendees.

-One of the fun things that happened to tie us back into the Twitterverse was when we “hired” a principal for our school of #kinderchat teachers, and it was neat to tweet to @ChrisWejr that he was our choice. Chris has been a huge supporter of #kinderchat and #edcampkinder and was instrumental in getting @Garrioch and I hooked up as a local partnership. Stacey was my travel companion and I couldn’t have asked for better. To think that we booked this trip after only meeting face to face once before (in the presence of my 21students and 2 TA’s, no less…) still boggles my mind. That we trusted and liked each other enough to travel together to meet other people we had never met in person speaks to the strength of the relationships already formed on twitter.

-Personally, it was incredible to be able to meet @tashacowdy in person, as we had been collaborating all year in our Kindergarten Around the World project. We were partnered by @happycampergirl to build a relationship between our two classes. We had tweeted, sent videos and photos to each other, exchanged Christmas cards and Valentine’s Day/White Day cards, wrote autobiographies for each other, drew pictures, skyped and finally collaborated on a piece of fiction that we published on iBooks. Our students became friends on opposite sides of the world, and they truly cared about each other. It was so powerful to see Tasha face to face and celebrate that wonderful connection in person! I look forward to continuing that collaboration with her, and also adding in @jasongraham99’s Grade 1 class to the mix. Who knows where our new collaboration will take us? I am sure that whatever direction our students’ interests and inquiries lead, it will be very exciting!

Each person I connected with in Vegas gave me something to think about. The only regret I have is that we didn’t have more time. Like summer camp, the days flew by and it was all over too quickly. There are still conversations unfinished, new things to learn about teaching and each other. I will cherish each and every conversation I had. The days were so fluid, the conversations ebbed and flowed in an unbelievably natural way and I look forward to the planning of #edcampkinder2013!

7 thoughts on “#edcampkinder

  1. Michelle, I am so glad you encouraged me to attend #edcampkinder. So many incredible people in one place at the same time. I’m very thankful. I also love your reflection. 🙂

  2. Pingback: The New Shape of Teaching and Learning | heidi echternacht

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