One of the tenants of the Edscape Conference is the focus on the work of practitioners. The selection of the keynote, as well as the majority of the sessions, places an emphasis on innovative work taking place in schools across the country and beyond. It is my feeling that in a time when the national rhetoric is quite negative towards education, nothing is more inspiring and uplifting than focusing on the innovative and impactful work being done by passionate educators. My only regret with Edscape is that I did not get to sit in on any sessions or engage attendees in as many conversations that I would have liked. I guess this comes with the territory when hosting a conference at your school. However, I have been digesting feedback that I have received either through email, in person, or the #Edscape hashtag and would just like to point out a few highlights from the event. Below are some identifiable characteristics that I believe portray the success and impact of Edscape:
- NMHS Students – I could not have been more proud of my students and how they represented my school. Attendee after attendee commented how helpful, respectful, and enthusiastic they were. Next year I will look for even more ways to get my students involved with Edscape.
- The Learning – Edscape is all about professional learning. This occurred during sessions, over conversations in lunch, in the hallways between sessions, and afterwards at the networking reception held at Jersey Boys Grill. Each session focused on applicable takeaways that educators could implement upon their return to their schools. What was even more powerful though was the learning that took place during conversations on professional practice and through the connections that were made throughout the day. Many attendees expressed the need to a two-day conference going forward as there were too many quality sessions that they wanted to attend. You can check out all of the sessions that were offered HERE.
- Facility – I love my school building and numerous attendees echoed this. The original building where the majority of the sessions were held was built in 1928 and you can see that from the architecture. We continue to work on transforming learning spaces with the money that we have. At NMHS we had adequate technology available, charging stations that our students regularly use, and superior WiFi (ask any attendee). At our max we had over 650 devices connected to the open WiFi and not one issue. There were so many complimentary comments about the charging stations, WiFi, grounds, mission statements visible in classrooms, student work displayed on walls, and the larger television that streams announcements when you enter the school. I feel a school is the best place to engage educators in professional learning.
- Attendees – There were close to 400 educators from 11 different states (NJ, RI, NY, CT, PA, MD, AR, MO, OH, VA, TX) as well as Canada. Numerous stakeholder groups were represented such as teachers, assistant principals, principals, curriculum directors, assistant superintendents, board of education members, parents, and members of the NJ Department of Education. I am humbled by the fact that so many attendees and presenters traveled great distances to be at Edscape. What was even rewarding was seeing everyone learning side by side to improve their practices and move the profession forward.
- Global Impact – The keynote by George Couros as well as the Connected Educator panel was streamed live by Teachercast and viewed by over 500 people worldwide. If you have not viewed his keynote you can see a recording of it HERE. The #Edscape hashtag was trending #1 throughout the day on Twitter.
Edscape has and always will be a labor of love for me. The excitement, passion, and innovative work I witness each year are the catalysts needed for change in my opinion. Edscape is not a revolutionary event in itself. It is the ideas and strategies that educators take with them from the event and eventually implement that have the capacity to be revolutionary. On a side note I can’t thank George Couros enough for delivering a keynote that made attendees, laugh, cry, and think. Spending time with him at the Jets game yesterday and introducing him to tailgating was an added bonus.
Lastly, thanks to all of YOU that inspire me each day to put on Edscape. On that note I would love to hear what your major takeaways were from the event this past Saturday. What did we do right and what can we improve? Feel free to leave a link to your Edscape reflection in the comments if you have or plan to write one. Planning for Edscape 2014 for next October is now under way so mark your calendars for Saturday 10/18/14. We will soon be setting a date and then select a keynote (suggestions appreciated). The call for proposals will go out in the spring so stay tuned. If you have any leads on sponsors for next year feel free to secure them on my behalf or send me an email.
Be the change that you wish to see in education!