Vol.#27: Something Old, Something New…

Saturday May 4th, I both celebrated the end of an amazing experience and attempted a new one. On Saturday night, I attended the Kenan Fellows “Catalysts for Change” reception and dinner that both celebrated the end of our 2013 class and welcomed the 2014 Fellows. It was not that long ago that I was just embarking on the amazing experience that those 49 educators are eagerly anticipating. Many asked what to expect. While every Kenan Fellow has an experience that is highly personal, as mentors and placements vary widely, there are certainly themes and common trends that evolve of you talk to Fellows that have completed the process. They have a different, more global perspective for their role in the classroom. They have new knowledge to bring back to their students. They have new confidence to emerge (or continue to evolve) as a teacher leader, and they have an eagerness for the next adventure.

941122_10151580422464621_877520271_nOur Kenan Fellows 2013 class is very close, and we have planned several ‘unofficial’ gatherings throughout the year. I look forward to a large cookout planned at one Fellow’s house this June. These are some of the best teachers, colleagues, and friends I could ever ask for. I’ll be forever grateful for meeting these 42 professionals this year.

Before this dinner event filled with hugs and reminiscing, I attended EdcampNC – my first Edcamp. Though the unconference model proclaims the notion of putting the participants in charge, my experience was such that those who were ‘old hand’ certainly still ran the show. Education is a small world, and Edcamp certainly highlighted its “Good Old Boy” club is in full vigor. The inner circle already knew each other well and did most of the talking in sessions – even the one I’d proposed. I wasn’t even given credit for participating in the Tech Smackdown. (Just look for the only resource shared without a name.)

I don’t mean to sound so negative. I really did enjoy putting faces together with a few Education folks with whom I have had great discussions on Twitter. I also received a few new tools throughout the day. A colleague who was also new to Edcamp was put off enough to probably not return. I think, for myself, since I clearly can’t beat the system, I have to decide: Do I try to find a way to join it?

sproutThis feeling of frustration is exacerbated by my desire to grow and stretch feeling stifled. With the Fellowship behind me and this school year rapidly coming to a close (school for Track 1 on our year-round calendar ends May 31st) I am itching for the next big challenge. I’d thought I’d found a match when the language arts department of my district asked for teachers to submit a professional development proposal that we’d be willing to provide for year-round schools this July. However, my “iPad Apps in the ELA classroom” proposal was not accepted. So, I am feeling rejected and restless – never a good combination.

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2 thoughts on “Vol.#27: Something Old, Something New…”

  1. Great post, as always, Erica.

    As a someone that I am sure you would include in the “good old boys club” that left you feeling disenfranchised at EdCampNC, I’m sorry that you felt excluded.

    Some of your points are clearly valid–it is unfortunate that your name was left off the SmackDown list–but I think that you misinterpreted some of the interaction that you observed. While I knew several of the people who organized the event, many others whom I was familiar with had been new to me last year. And a much much larger number with whom i interacted much of the time were unknown to me prior to this year’s EdCampNC event. The open nature of the event (and the large percentage of extroverts) breaks down a lot of walls between like-minded strangers. I met lots of people, and subsequently followed them in Twitter to continue the conversation, at the event. It didn’t feel like there was an “inner circle” to me, but rather that many of the attendees knew each other either in-person or digitally, and these people tend to want to spend their limited time together in each other’s presence.

    But, naturally, if there is an exclusionary atmosphere, those on the inside might not be aware. I just hope that you continue to explore the unconference model and keep using your voice until you feel that it is reaching the audience that you desire.

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    1. Thanks for your insight, Paul.

      Saying you’re sorry I “felt excluded” makes it sound like I believe it was intentional. It’s not that I thought anyone deliberately left anyone else out.

      “…many of the attendees knew each other either in-person or digitally, and these people tend to want to spend their limited time together in each other’s presence.”

      Exactly. It felt something like attending a family reunion when you’re not a member of the family. There are customs that are second-hand to everyone else and cultural norms that feel a little alien. People are visiting and reuniting, which is great if you’re part of the family, but if not, you feel a little out of place and off-kilter.

      I guess what I was trying to say is I wondered about the effort to get “adopted by the family”, or if that effort would be well spent.

      Again, I believe it mostly comes down to my frustrations with my own forward progress and finding a good fit.

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