Obligatory Do What You Love Post #edcampisva
The first year I was “just” a math teacher I had a single desktop/CRT Dell tucked into the corner of my classroom. Between electronic gradebooks and parent emails, I spent most of my prep periods huddled over that keyboard. At some point in February, I realized that I had lost two prep periods trying to recreate a gravity-experiment in Squeak. At the time I had almost no programing experience, didn’t teach science or even know the science teachers at my school. I had just found a new toy, one captivating enough to drown out the stack of papers on my desk and make me forget the herd of 9th graders about to barge in.
That was the point where I realized that no matter what I was assigned to teach, I was still drawn to new tech and new (to me!) ideas. I realized that I needed to find a job where this hour, and all the others like it, were an essential part of work rather than an indulgence.
Today I’m at Fredericksburg Academy attending EdCamp IS-VA (#edcampisva), and I’m surrounded by people who must have had a similar moment. I keep moving between conversations that would, in isolation, be the hilight of a normal week. Everyone I’ve talked to is eager to share their plans, tools, experience and vision, all on a Saturday afternoon that’s otherwise ripe for napping.
The only other time I’ve driven this far south in VA was for a small Street Fighter tournament; an event which provides some surprising similarities to #edcampisva. Both provide a space and community for folk who constantly pokes at, play with and processes certain ideas. Here the conversations center around technology and reform, about institutional and academic structure, about encouraging authentic learning rather than option selects and character match-ups, but the communities are similar. Both groups full of manic, self-propelled learners, so passionate about their interests that they’ve learned to be cautious and circumspect in most other conversation spaces.
Almost a decade ago I had a choice to view my interests and passions as a distraction to be managed or as a pillar of my career and professional identity. After a few years feeling a bit isolated in Virginia, it’s nice to meet up with a community of other folk who made the same choice.