As I now have had a few days to process all that went on at #edcampkinder, I am finding that there is much to draw from that four days. My original post about the event was scattered, trying to get the details written down so that I wouldn’t forget them, for fear of losing that “first impression”. Now as I reflect, I find that there is a ripple effect from that experience that I will take with me from here on in. A ripple effect that has made #kinderchat even more important to my professional and personal life.
Most importantly, the ripple effect changes the way I read the #kinderchat tweets. Now I see faces, gestures, mannerisms and most importantly, SMILES. They are not just words on my iPad, they are words attached to real people that I know and have shared experiences with. We have laughed together, eaten together, shared life experiences together and that builds bonds. Sure, we are all early childhood teachers, but the bond goes deeper than that. We are FRIENDS.
Another ripple effect of #edcampkinder will be in my teaching. Already #kinderchat challenged me to question why I do everything I do in my classroom, but now that I have real life relationships with these people, there is another level of commitment to doing the right thing. A sense of honour. A sense of being held accountable that isn’t there just though twitter. I am inspired by these people and I will do my best to question “What would the #kinderchat teachers do?” in every decision I make in my classroom.
To think that I would purposefully go to Las Vegas to spend four days with people I had never met in person still makes me shake my head. What was I thinking? What I do know is that the relationships started on twitter were obviously strong enough and meaningful enough to make me want to go. What I know now, looking back, is that there was already a feeling of camaraderie, a basis of trust, a foundation to build on. Attending a traditional conference does not allow for time to get to know the participants in a deep and meaningful way, but what we experienced was more like a summer camp. It was intense…hilarious…thought-provoking…and wonderful!
Upon returning home, my mom asked me “What did you learn?”…meaning did I make and take anything to use in my classroom, as in a traditional conference. The most important thing I LEARNED was that I have a global network of colleagues with whom I can plan, dream and connect with. What I MADE at #edcampkinder was deep and meaningful relationships with friends…who also happen to be colleagues. Isn’t that far more valuable than a lesson plan?