Twelve hours from now, EduCon will unofficially kick-off with Gary Stager’s preconference — Constructing Modern Math / Science Knowledge. Thirty-seven hours from now, folks will start turning the SLA library into a great big social network, and we’ll do everything we can to have a "normal" school day with an extra hundred or so folks in the building. And Friday night, we kick off with a panel that I am just dying to be in the audience for.
It’s wild to think that this started because of an off-hand comment that Will Richardson made at EduBloggerCon at NECC 2007. It’s incredible to think that we were so close to saying that we weren’t going to do this when John Pederson emailed me to say that he’d booked his flight. It’s amazing to think that this weekend, there will be educators from five countries and over 30 states in our building, talking about how we can transform schools with 21st century tools and progressive pedagogy.
Really — what were we thinking? What made us think that this could happen?
If this goes well this weekend… if people have as empowering an experience as they did last year, I think it tells us a few important things.
EduCon works, most importantly, because so many people come with good intentions and a willing spirit. The number of people who come willing to lend a hand, who have emailed us saying, "Put me to work when I get there…" who have offered and given their time is awe-inspiring. The number of presenters who have given of their time to make this meaningful is humbling. This is our conference — not SLA’s, but rather it belongs to everyone who comes, who spends time watching and participating online, who blogs about education, who spends nights on twitter trying to argue at 140 characters at a a time, who wants to see schools that reflect the innovations we’ve seen in society. People come expecting to take part. That matters.
EduCon also works because the SLA community is incredible. Our partner museum, The Franklin Institute, is thrilled to be a part of it. We have twenty parents who are giving major chunks of their time over the next four days to run registration, make coffee, slice strombolis, set up chairs and make sure that the attendees have an amazing experience. We have dozens of kids who will be giving tours, running tech support, filming sessions, running sessions, running the coffee stand and generally helping to plan. And we have an entire school of kids who are excited to spend Friday sharing their space with everyone from the conference.
Finally, it is the SLA teachers who have given an insane amount of time, effort and thought. This conference has gone from "Hey, wonder what would happen if…" to something that folks requires an intense amount of planning. The work of folks like Diana Laufenberg, Zac Chase, Marcie Hull, Tim Best, Brad Latimer, Larissa Pahomov and others made this conference happen. The conference was planned in after-school meetings and late-night Skype and Google sessions. And while it was a good idea to plan the conference to be the weekend between the conference playoffs and the SuperBowl, it probably wasn’t a good idea to plan the conference the week grades were due. The fact that the teaches haven’t killed me speaks volumes to both their character and to the belief that we all have at school about how much this conference speaks to our role as an R&D school. I say this all the time in faculty workshops, but I’ll say it here, I love working with the teachers of SLA. It really is an honor.
I love the idea that we can have 350 people come together in a school to learn together, to question each other, to push each other. I love that there isn’t a vendor floor. I love that it’s teachers and principals and district administrators and parents and students all together, spending time together because we care about schools and learning and kids. I’m so incredibly excited about this weekend, because my learning network is coming over to play.
Oh… and the cheesesteaks. Gotta love the cheesesteaks.