February 2018

Introducing our Board Co-Chair, Shannon Montague

1) Welcome to 2018, What are your New Years' resolutions? 

I've moved to very open New Years resolutions now. This year I'm focusing on the words balance and moderation. I tend to be go-go-go and I used to beat myself up for it. Now I'm realizing it's ok to be go-go-go if I'm doing what I love. It's all about balancing it with times for pause and realizing I don't have to do EVERYTHING at once (moderation). 

2) What do/did you wanna be when you grow up? 

So I have a lot of answers to this. Realistically, I knew I was always going to go into education, but along the way considered journalism and politics. Secretly, I've always been fascinated by being a cruise ship entertainer. Seriously!  

3) What was your favorite day at school of all time (as a teacher, or a student.) 

Oh gosh! This is hard! I would have to say that I've been fortunate to work at independent schools with lots of traditions. At all of my school the traditional days are my favorites-- Lessons and Carols at my current school, Thanksgiving Convocation at my last school, etc.

If you've attended an Edcamp Summit, chances are you know who Shannon Montague is. The biggest supporter of Edcamp Karaoke, Shannon has been involved in edcamps since 2009 when she attended her first edcamp (PadCamp in New Jersey). After that, she worked with fellow Baltimorean, Chris Shriver, to create an awesome team that started Edcamp Baltimore in 2011. Shannon joined the Edcamp Foundation Board in 2015, and is thrilled to co-chair the board. She has been in the classroom for as long as she can remember, teaching stuffed animals as a kid, and then teaching English, technology and drama to real middle school and high school humans as an adult. Shannon loves to share the edcamp model, presenting it at numerous conferences and bringing it into her own work. Shannon is currently the Head of the Learning Village (grades PS-8) at St. Anne's-Belfield School in Charlottesville, VA.

Introducing our Board Co-Chair, Betsy Longstreth

1) Welcome to 2018, What are your New Years’ resolutions?   

Not very original but true - More exercise and less reacting to pop up news and distracting social media

2) What do/did you wanna be when you grow up? 

Glad to be asked now - had not a clue when graduating high school!  But now I reflect on a common thread throughout my professional life is the role of crusader.  From Peace Corps rural community development, Planned Parenthood, Teaching, Head of Development and a sports based youth development organization, I have tried to open up opportunities and empower individuals to enhance their learning and their lives.

3) What was your favorite day at school of all time (as a teacher, or a student.)  

Whenever a lightbulb of comprehensive understanding lit up in the face of a student in Latin or Spanish,  each of those was my favorite moment.

Betsy has many years of experience in the nonprofit world with a specific focus on health, education and community outreach. She has been involved at the international and local level in the areas of education and health as a member of the Peace Corps working in rural Colombia. She was Assistant to the President of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania working closely with the Board of Directors and Administration in developing new clinical programs and outreach. She spent two years in Panama with her husband working in community development with local services to provide education and family planning services to the urban underserved. Upon returning to the United States, she founded Education International, which provided educational, tutoring, and homestay opportunities for Latin American middle and high-school students preparing for college in the US. Betsy taught Latin and Spanish at Chestnut Hill Academy where she also served as the Director of Institutional Advancement until 2012. Betsy served as the founding Executive Director of Vincera Foundation, the nonprofit philanthropic arm of Vincera Institute, dedicated to improving the health of the community through research, education and youth development. Betsy received her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College. She and her husband, Peter, are the proud parents of three children and nine grandchildren. Throughout her various careers, Betsy has been dedicated to advancing professional development as critical to effective program delivery.



Social Studies: Museums and History in the Classroom

Submitted by James Elish

History can be relevant, museums can be alive for students. 

In this story, James Elish talks about the power of engaging with local museums to develop students to be critical historiographers, or critical framers and interrogators of the histories around them. 

In the past three years, I have engaged with two Philadelphia area museums - Eastern State Penitentiary and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology - in developing critical museum curricula.  Students have engaged in projects critiquing extant museum galleries and building their own examples.  Students have engaged with themes of appropriation, narrative power, colonial fetishization, and culturally sensitive display.  

In any given history curriculum, most museum field trips are to historical sites and anthropological museums.  These museums harbor complicated historical legacies - often resting on collections built on principles of colonialism.  Instead of simply viewing the artifacts within these museums, students are better served by critiquing the museums themselves.  Students should engage with museums by analyzing the particular narratives that the museums themselves build.  By studying the history and choices of the museum itself, students can engage in any of a number of projects that make historiographical thought urgently relevant.

Instead of simply viewing the artifacts within these museums, students are better served by critiquing the museums themselves.  

These projects have been cited by countless students as the most important steps in their historical learning.  My suggestion to educators is to use museums in your area, great or small.  In my experience, museum educators are searching for ways to bring in local students with greater regularity.  Many museums, much like history as a subject, are fighting against waning interest - particularly amongst young people.  Often museums have outstanding education specialists eager to develop curricula that are critical of the role of the museum itself - use these partnerships to build your curricular backdoor into historiographical thought.  History can be relevant, museums can be alive - we need to teach criticism instead of observation!

James Elish could not be happier teaching teenagers history and economics at Science Leadership Academy at Beeber (SLA@B) in West Philadelphia; a project-based, inquiry driven public high school.  After a stint as a financial consultant in Chicago, James attended the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education teacher education program and has been in Philly ever since.  The incredibly creative students of SLA@B continue to inspire and push his practice on a daily basis.  James loves nothing more than collaborating with the non-profit and museum educators of Philadelphia in creating culturally relevant curriculum.  When not teaching, James can usually be found on his bike, at home by the stove, or on the banks of the Schuykill with a book and a soccer ball.

Connecting Communities w/ Connected Learning

Submitted by Chris Rogers, Edcamp Foundation Program Associate

Given the growing influence of digital tools on young people’s lives, what are the possibilities for where creative investigation in the classroom can go?

Good Day Edcampers, 

Let me introduce myself. I joined the Edcamp Foundation in August 2017 after a stint as an afterschool arts supervisor as well as interning with The National Writing Project. In my work there, I worked on LRNG Innovators project which sought to support teachers in imagining breakthrough projects along with their students and communities. 

Through that experience, I spent a great amount of time looking through existing projects that we found interesting. As we begin this Edcamp Foundation Newsletter, this is a great opportunity for you all to get to know a bit of my background and how we plan to support teacher leadership on the ground. 

As an example: In this project out of Philadelphia, we meet a classroom of students and teachers who found a way to take their stories of self-discovery and create a new platform for agency and voice. 

Enjoy this full collection as an opportunity to find inspiration, parse ideas to take on creative investigation in your classroom and school community: Years in the Making with Connected Learning: The Collection


-Chris Rogers

Chris works at the Edcamp Foundation to support teachers convening spaces nationally (and internationally) to discover innovative and transformative practices that they can bring into and beyond their classrooms and schools. When he's not working, Chris can be usually found with a book, or two, or three, and a small all-season iced coffee with no room for cream.

Moving Forward After Everything Came Crumbling Down!

Submitted by Elaine Mendez, @Elemcoach, See more of Elaine's writing at http://thepurposefulcoach.blogspot.com/

I can fall twenty times, but I will always get back up.

"One of those days!" 

"What does that even mean?"

Oh you know, nothing seems to go your way. Your good ideas seem to be washed down the drain. What you thought would be a hit, barely gets a reaction. Past experiences hinder forward movement. Someone's actions create an internal storm that just makes everything you've worked so hard to cultivate violently come crumbling down. 

Meanwhile, you... well.... you feel like eating a pint of ice cream. 

Did I stumble? Ummmm, I think it was more like I fell down three flights of stairs type of thing! While I didn't go get that pint of ice cream, I did have some Halloween candy instead! 

Seriously though, I didn't let the outcomes of this week keep me down. I had a pep talk with someone I admire, I went online did some research on things that make my heart content, created my #CelebrateMonday newsletter, and went home to enjoy the evening with my daughters. 

Today, I got up just as excited as I have been these past few weeks and attended another #EdCamp. I once again feel balanced and all is good in my universe. As I reflect on the events of this week, I realize that this is all part of the process. 

In order to grow, you must experience failure. If you take the time to go over the reasons why things didn't go according to plan, to look at possible alternatives, to learn from your mistakes, you'll grow as both an individual and a professional. 

How Can Teachers Fail Forward:

That's a great question! The trick to #failingfoward is taking risks! Don't worry about the what ifs! If you have an idea, execute it! If it doesn't work, tweak it! Last year, our district got these amazing new Smart TVs for our classrooms. I had no idea how to operate the device, let alone, effectively utilize it to enhance instruction. I didn't let the fear of letting my students know this stop me from using it. I looked at them and said "Dudes and Dudettes (that's my term of endearment for them), WE are going to learn to use the TV as part of our reading block instruction. Are you with me?" Needless to say, the kids were extremely excited to help me with this new learning experience. 

Was it difficult? Totally! I botched a couple of lessons because I managed to zoom into everything so many times. And, I can't tell you the number of times I forgot to use the overlay to be able to write. I didn't quit using the Smart TV though. I learned through trial and error. The cool thing about the whole process is that the children became my roadmap. They reminded me to push that button and to click on that link. Learning to use the Smart TV became a fun and interactive WHOLE group process. We all worked together.

So teachers, administrators, educators remembering that you are not alone is key. Engage your students, colleagues, partners in the learning process. Ask for help, clarification, and support when things are not clear. Find your tribe and rely on them. 

Failing forward builds character and courage.  It creates the resiliency necessary to persevere in difficult and uncomfortable situations. This is why they say that "all things are difficult before they are easy." I believe in myself and my ability to share my passion for educating with others. I can fall twenty times, but I will always get back up.

I am looking forward to next week! 

Peace and love, 

Elaine Mendez, after a decade of teaching is excited about being the Instructional Coach for Belleville Public Schools. She loves books, reading, and coordinating professional development for herself and others. Additionally, she is very passionate about creating learning environments where students are free to take risks, speak up, and make connections to the world around them. We invite you to continue to follow her stories at http://thepurposefulcoach.blogspot.com/

Highlights from 2018's Edcamp Tabernacle, NJ

Submitted by Brittany Murro, @brittanymurro

"We had 170 educators who attended EdCamp Tabernacle, which we were super excited about since it was our very first one!"

Here is the link to our session board: 
Here are some of the testimonials from Twitter:
Wow. @NacleEdCamp crushed the learning, energy, & conversations today. Thank you to @Glennr1809 & his team. Met some great educators @JayBilly2 @RACzyz @_AmandaFry #NacleEdCamp
Had a blast at #NacleEdCamp this past Saturday. Great time with great educators!!!!
Reflections from today's #NacleEdCamp! Great connections made! Thinking stretched! Thanks to some amazing educators who came out today!
Thank YOU @NacleEdCamp #NacleEdCamp for an amazing day of learning & collaborating!
Much appreciated!!  You guys are rockstars!! Great to finally meet, learn and be with #PLN. #strongertogether @barrykid1 @Glennr1809 @BrittanyMurro @JayBilly2 @3Realley @iruntech @RACzyz
@NacleEdCamp Great planning and discussions.
Highlights from 2017's Edcamp336, NC

Adam Friedman, Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education at Wake Forest University, recently reached out to the Edcamp Foundation by phone to inquire about the Edcamp-in-a-box process. He wanted to build on the success of last year’s Edcamp336 which sparked a flame in the teachers that attended. This testimonial offered at its conclusion resonated with the entire organizer team: 

"I am hooked! This is the kind of professional development that teachers are yearning for. There is only ONE other PD in my 16 years of teaching that has truly changed my instruction. I am walking away with ideas that I can implement Monday and others next year."

They are preparing for this year’s Edcamp336, which will take place on March 24th. For more info, please visit their website. Below, see photos from Edcamp336:


Teachers #StandwithStudents

Let's raise our voices!

From the minute a person decides to become a teacher, there is a commitment to stand with and for the children who will be our students. We don't teach for fame and fortune; we teach for kids. How many of us have called our students, "my kids"? As long as they are in our classrooms and often well beyond that, we are ours, and we do this work for them. They are the reason that we stay late at school and often lie awake at night, prepping a new lesson or scheming a new strategy to light up their learning. Teachers, plain and simple, teach for kids. 

In the Edcamp community, this is especially true. Edcamp people go far beyond the norm, constantly seeking to improve the learning that happens in their classrooms. They are passionate about being their very best, creating learning environments for every child. Some times, it is in small ways, coming alongside a struggling student and offering help. Some times, it is in much larger ways that go far beyond any job description, marching and petitioning alongside their students. What matters to students matters to teachers!

Let's use the power of our collective voice, here and on social media, to join together to stand with our students, making a statement that they are not alone. 

Share how you are supporting your students. 

  • How are you doing this work? 
  • What works? What doesn't?
  • How can we collaborate to support each other's efforts?

We are a powerful group of educators. Let's use our voice to share how much we #StandwithStudents!