Wednesday, November 10, 2010

EdCampKC: A Rather Painful Reflection


I guess it is my turn to reflect on the unconference that was edcampKC. A few weeks before I went I wrote a post about what I wanted to get from the conference. While I really feel that my goals were realistic and that they were met, I was not ready for the let down that has happened this week. 

I really wanted to meet my online friends, and I did and they are wonderful. What I didn't see coming was the letdown from going back to my building where I have no one to share my passion with. I had no idea (although in retrospect I should have) that meeting and conversing with people face to face would mean so much to me. 

A couple years ago a new teacher came into my building. He shared a real interest in how I was using tech in my classroom. He was someone I came to depend on to talk about tech, tools, and how to best leverage learning from them. Unfortunately he only stayed one year. It was a tough transition to go from having someone to share with to being without, I didn't realize how much I missed him until this week. 

I guess what I want to express is that online connections are not a good enough replacement for the relationships we develop off line. I really want to spend more time connecting with those I met on Saturday, but I realize that this simply won't happen anytime soon. It hurts.

I have spent a lot of time and energy trying to create relationships online and to foster others creating their own relationships. I think I need to move some of that effort back to my school district. I also need to find ways to help my students learn the same lesson. There is no more important community than the one you are with every day.

32 comments:

Celia said...

I understand your dilemma. This year a number of fellow colleagues have started blogging/tweeting and the feeling of satisfaction I get when I hear other people talking over the staffroom table about Tweets and blogs is amazing. The face to face cannot be replaced by the on-line. It is truly wonderful when they collide.

Michelle said...

Kyle and I were just talking about post-conference withdrawals. It IS difficult to spend time with people who 'get' you and think along the same lines... even when we don't always agree. I feel this way every time I attend a conference. It's even more difficult after ISTE, because you sometimes spend a week plus with a lot of the same people.

I sat in a faculty meeting tonight feeling defeated. Sometimes, I'm not sure I have it in me to keep pushing and advocating. There are so many things my district does not allow (like student blogging with public access), and it frustrates me to no end.

I don't have any advice or suggestions for you... just know that I'm right there with you.

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Celia, there is nothing like belonging :)

@Michelle Maybe we can start a support group. While I (obviously) don't have the same problems you have, we can still commiserate. :)

Anonymous said...

I am so lucky to have a partner where I work that is just as engaged, committed, and energetic about our goals for our school. I teach the computer classes with the teachers and she is the Tech coordinator who is the support for staff, equipment, etc... I can't imagine going to school every day and feel alone in your vision. But, just keep looking and trying to make those connections. There are others there looking to make those connections too.

KTVee said...

This is REALLY how I feel. I didn't get to make it to edcampKC this year, but it's the passionate people on Twitter that inspire me each week. It's just a letdown to not have it in person each day. I have often dreamt of starting a school with my PLN and it would be called Passion Elementary... where the learning never stops. It's nice to know I'm not alone because many days, well, I feel like I am.

Lee Kolbert said...

Totally agree about Post-Conference Letdown Syndrome. Happens to me every time! Good news is, your PLN is available 24/7 online.

Cybrary Man - Jerry Blumengarten said...

I can fully understand how you feel. Years ago I used to really enjoy going to and presenting at conferences all around the country and meeting passionate educators. Coming back to my school was a real downer with unhappy teachers and those unwilling to change. The best thing is that you have great educators on Twitter to keep you motivated. You also have great opportunities to collaborate with wonderful global educators.

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Anonymous I understand how lucky you are, and I am very jealous. Fortunately my students "get me" and that really helps. Thanks for your comment.

@KTVee I feel for you. I am not sure a school full of us would be a good thing. There are a lot of strong personalities amongst us. ;)

@Lee I don't want to have a syndrome, but it sure is nice to have people that can support me. I just want more. Thanks for the comment.

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Jerry Can you imagine how hard it would be without twitter? I didn't know what I was missing, but now it would kill me to do without it. Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it.

Mark Fox said...

I often wonder if tech passionate people are akin to old widowed ladies who only have a passion for their cats. That is the frustrating thing and I agree with your sentiments entirely. I hope you find your 'techmate' soon.

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Mark I do have a fondness for cats :) I appreciate your thoughts.

TJ Shay said...

This post hit me pretty hard. . . I am lucky to have a person in my school now who sees kids the way I do, but not sure the level of passion for changing the world that I have. One common vision is good.

I remember MANY years of the feeling you describe before I had someone nearer to my soul. I am hoping it changes for you!

The feeling at conferences is greater than I had ever given it credit for...it's so nice to be with kindred spirits who value the same thing you do!

Wm Chamberlain said...

@TJ thanks for the kind words, I appreciate them.

kristinapeters said...

I completely understand your sentiments. I too have been going through withdrawals and a sense of deflation as I re-entered my reality. I was so happy to share things that I learned, did, discussed, and more...to no avail. I just go back to my PLN whom I count on to pick me back up. I know it's not the same as being among those in your building, but what happens when you can't get it there? You turn to Twitter!

I'm presenting on the importance of our network tomorrow. I might have to share this "reality" with them, but hopefully not scare them away too soon.

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Kristina I suppose we wouldn't really need these conference experiences if we had the same type of support in our schools. I hope you have a willing audience tomorrow for your presentation. :)

Rob Lyons said...

I'm with you on this. My colleagues are quite sick of my enthusiasm when I return from these conferences. The truth is, they don't need to hear it from me, they need to experience it for themselves. Fortunately TL Tech Forum North East is a local event, so this year I managed to convince 7 teachers and my principal to accompany me, based on my promise of a hot lunch, swag, and and a day out of the building. While it wasn't exactly transformational, it was eye opening to these folks to meet face to face the "virtual colleagues" I had spoken about, shared resources from, and looked to for inspiration.

What I learned from this is somewhat to the point of your post. I've connected with some incredible people online that have really shaped my vision of what education can/should be. I realize that it's going to take time but I believe that we are now starting to build a professional community in my school. Slowly, but we're on the right track. I hope...

Thanks for sharing this. It's reassuring to know that I am not the only one feeling this way. See ya online!

Roblyons

Gail Ray @used2bprincipal said...

I understand what you are saying. I loved going to conferences (and still do, even though I'm retired) because I would always learn something new and as a result, come back invigorated and anxious to share with my colleagues. Even though there were some naysayers, finding the one or two people who shared my passion worked for me. I am confident that you will be able to find those people in your school community. Don't lose your passion! Good luck.

Kyle said...

Bill,
Thanks so much for this honest post. Clearly, you can see that you're not alone. I too, join you in your thoughts of missing those face to face connections from this past Saturday. I have been having them all week. It was an amazing day. I don't get sick of saying that. I had a teacher ask me today about how it went and this was right before I was supposed to facilitate a session for a group of teachers. I didn't want to shut up about it. I'm finally getting around to my post-EdcampKC reflection and it's great to replay the day in my head. I'm ready to do it all over again!

Pam said...

We humans have a long history of being a part of tribal communities- as such we are social creatures, more tuned to the pack than to roaming alone. While our virtual communities serve as a space to connect through Thornburg's cyber campfires, watering holes and caves, we can't get the same sensory input we find when we rub shoulders,hug, shake hands, make f2f eye contact, laugh out loud together, catch that moment of body language empathy that says "I am here for you." And, when we break bread together, it bonds us in ways that transcend our cyber-connects. I love having friends and colleagues around the world who I can count on - but what you communicate in this post captures the essence of who we are- communities who depend on each other, day in and out- not just when we can catch time for 140 characters. Thanks for capturing this- just glad we get those occasional chances to meet in real-spaces.

Matt Spears said...

Just an amazing read ... sad, true and amazing. I think you (and most of us) are lucky to have an online community to join. But you are so right! Fostering face to face relationships is paramount. There is no substitute for a smiling face or someone to listen to over morning coffee.

Maybe you can start a small PLN in your district.

gail said...

I don't trust myself to pull off the planning of an #edcamp in my district but I've experienced one, look forward to a second in Feb., and know how much power it could have in our region if attended.
If we build it, will they come? You know, the folks who really need to hear the lessons? Who need to experience the grass roots sharing of tools and information?

Philip said...

I feel your pain. I have tried (with very limited success) to engage my colleagues at work in connecting with my digital PLN. Some have been interested, but then get overwhelmed by everything else they MUST do. It doesn't help that everything is blocked so I cannot demonstrate it at the office (except by smartphone). My admins do see me as a valuable resource--but they haven't decided to fully jump in to the online networking yet. They just don't want to invest the time. I get that. It took me months to see real value. Lately, I'm even being pulled away from my digital connections by all that must be done at work and with my family. I wish I had some answers for you, just know you are not alone in feeling this way.

LOUISA GHOLSON said...

"I have spent a lot of time and energy trying to create relationships online and to foster others creating their own relationships. I think I need to move some of that effort back to my school district. I also need to find ways to help my students learn the same lesson. There is no more important community than the one you are with every day."

As a student once considering education as a major, I now know that specific problem you are addressing is definitely spiritual in nature. I don't know how to fix that problem other than a poster I see in my daughter's resource class everyday when I pick her up: If you see someone who NEEDS a friend, be one. The reality: most people don't NEED friends today. I just enjoy the opportunity of meeting people who need friends. And your numbers are very accurate, it may be once in a blue moon when you share a common bond with someone and often it is through trial and error. Pain and disappointment will be an experience you must be able to face in seeking true friendships. This I know: when you find a true friendship you are so grateful for taking the time to get to know people on an intimate level (face to face) both the good and the not so good.

Becky Goerend said...

I think one of the things we can try to get over this is to bring people in our buildings with us. My principal came and he realized the "on an island" feeling that I have. He wants to bring a bunch to #edcampOmaha and get some things going. All I did was ask him to come...

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Rob I know that tech is like everything else, some people love it and some don't. Do you think the problem is teachers don't care about tech and that makes them miss its benefits?

@Gayle Thanks, I hope keep just as active as you when I retire too.

@Kyle I haven't shared my experiences with anyone at school. I feel like the new kid that comes from a different country/culture and have no one to talk with.

@Pam You hit the nail on the head, and after doing that with my friends at edcampKC the loss is even more apparent.

@Matt I am working with some pre-service teachers, teaching tech for teachers. I am hoping to grow a pln that way.

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Gail Tough question, but I went to make physical contact with my twitter friends. My wife, eldest daughter, and her room mate went to go for the information. They did learn things from it, not sure how that will effect their future classrooms though.

@Phillip If this community were less important to me I would seriously consider moving somewhere else. It is easy for me to say because I won't ever move.

@Louisa thanks for your insight :)

@Becky I asked, believe me. I was pretty happy to get my wife, daughter, and her room mate. I think the drive was just too far for many of them. Perhaps a Springfield or Joplin edcamp would work for them.

Cheryl Oakes said...

Start an Elluminate session! or.... Join us at EdTechTalk.com/live on Thursday evenings at 7:30 PM EST for a one hour webcast, where 3 teachers interview other teachers and we share our conversations live, through a chat system, and eventually a podcast at edtechtalk.com/seedlings

Alice Barr, Bob Sprankle, Cheryl Oakes

We will leave the light on.

Becky Goerend said...

Keep asking. You never know when someone will give in!

jkmcclung said...

Really sorry I'm just now getting around to commenting on this post; however I have to admit that I feel the same. Since I have moved to a different district I'm still longing for that relationship in my building with someone that shares the same type passion about education. It feels like the majority of them are just going through the motions and not serious about education.

Wm Chamberlain said...

Joe, maybe some day we will work together again. Maybe after I retire in MO we can meet up in AR.

Amanda A. said...

Thanks for this post!
I'm headed to EdCampOC this weekend and I'm worried that I'll have *exactly* the same reaction -- exhilaration followed by devestation. I'm only a student teacher and I'm already surrounded by people who aren't excited about tech or change in the classroom.

John Hadley Strange said...

I wish I had been there. Another scheduled soon?