Catch phrases – Lessons from EdCamp

Everyone has his or her own take on Edcamps. I got great ideas to implement in the classroom and in my professional work. I really liked meeting and talking with everyone who attended. I value the different perspectives everyone brought.

But quite possibly the most enduring lessons I am taking from Saturday’s EdCamp SS in Philadelphia can be summed up in a few sentences uttered by others in attendance. Brad Campbell was talking about flipping his classroom, and he said something that really resonated with me. To paraphrase, he said we need to get out of our students’ way but still be present for them. Students responded more positively to the videos when he made them because they needed that connection with him. In another session about Evernote (which I will definitely begin using) Greg Kulowiec said we need to start with the why and not the how – he was talking about teachers, but I think the same applies to students.  If I cannot articulate a reason for why I am asking them to do something, I need to reconsider. I would add another one I heard but not for the first time on Saturday – Shawn McCusker’s adage to go where you grow. That has been in my mind guiding me for a while now.

So, while I got great ideas for activities in the classroom and food for thought about how to organize my curriculum, I think what I value the most are the phrases and sentences that echo in my head to guide me in whatever I do. I guess that is just how my mind works. After all, what I remember from 10th grade Biology is that there is no such thing as a free lunch, which was my teacher’s interpretation of one of the laws of thermodynamics. And related to evolution, when the going gets tough, the tough get sexy. Interesting that I remember Mr. Wright’s catch phrases, but pretty much nothing about my history classes.


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