Even though we're only a couple of weeks in to the school year, I can't help but reflect on how exciting it is to work with educators who are excited to be learners. In my role, I frequently work with teachers and students who are excited about developing their collaboration skills and integrating digital literacy skills into their work, but over the past two weeks my experiences with YRDSB Google Camp and my first online M. Ed. course are helping create a positive feedback loop of enthusiasm.
YRDSB Google Camp has been an organically growing event that seems to have just passed its tipping point where enough people are involved and excited, that a small buzz is being generated outside of the initial target audience. YRDSB Google Camp was envisioned as an opportunity for York Region District School Board teachers who were already using Google Apps for Education or who wanted to get started using Google Apps for Education to get connected and learn with and from each other. We wanted to help facilitate the development of a community that could inspire and support teachers within the school board and we wanted it to be accessible and affordable. I'm excited to say that even though registration has been open for less than two weeks, we have over 500 people registered and not just teachers. We have occasional teachers, principals, superintendents, consultants, educational assistants, administrative assistants and more coming. A very diverse audience! Those who are coming are excited to learn, and I'm so thrilled that approximately 40 YRDSB teachers are going to open the doors to their teaching practice and share what's happening in their classrooms. Sharing your practice in public (much like blogging), can seem risky and intimidating, but I know that these teachers are passionate about the ways that Google Apps allows them to work differently and collaborate with their students to become truly become co-learners and will do a great job helping others.
I've also just finished my first week of my first online M.Ed. course through Nipissing University and it's great to join a new community of educators who have diverse range of experiences and backgrounds. We spend the first week discussing a journal article documenting a first person experience with online learning and it allowed us the opportunity to open up and share our own feelings regarding online learning. We're in the process of developing norms for the group, but what I've been really impressed with is how these individuals are open to sharing not just their successes, but also their fears about entering this kind of learning (for many of us it's our first M.Ed. and a return to "academia" after many years).
Working in these kinds of environments just re-energizes my own passion for teaching, reinforces the need for me to question my own practices and assumptions, and makes me excited to work with educators who never stop learning.