Doing the Techy Time Warp

So I took a few years off from the classroom…many teachers do it. After all, I stayed in the education world, focusing first on out-of-school time topics, then on curriculum writing, and all the while training teachers. I guessed returning to the classroom would be just like riding a bike. Until I attended an “unconference” last week.

I read about EdCamp in Meenoo Rami’s Thrive as I prepare to return to the middle school classroom and to directly coach teachers. After a quick search, I was excited to see an EdCamp close to my home scheduled for Saturday. I signed up, happy to pick up a tip or two before working in a school where each student will start the year with a device.

So you know those movies in which someone comes out of a coma after 20 years and has no idea what a cell phone or laptop is? Now I can completely relate.

EdCamp begins with a brainstorm of ideas…all written on sticky notes and adhered to the wall to be organized into popular topics and turned into workshops. With eagerness, I grab a few yellow squares and a pen, and I glance over the ideas already on the wall. I revert to my first grade phonics as I attempt to sound out words like “Edmodo” and “Voxer.” Huh? I quickly scribble a contribution – They showed up with iPads; now what?? – and stick it to the wall fast enough that I cannot be identified as its author.

While I wait to see what happens next, I open my device to read a post from my RSS feed (SO 2000s!); I click on an uploaded video. The volume booms, and I fumble to find the volume switch as I get “shushed.” While I use my iPad 2 often, this one move labels me as a “newby.” I am not alone. Eighty-five percent of the people joining me in the filled cafeteria raise their hands as newbies once asked, so thankfully, a detailed description of how an unconference works is given.

The workshops are great. Led by volunteers, not necessarily experts, conversations flow naturally. I lose my inhibition to ask really silly questions, such as “How do I know what to pound-sign?” I am not the only person drinking from a firehose as I tap-tap-tap away on my iPad screen, taking copious notes about dish-drying racks to organize devices in the classroom and how to use Kahoot as a review tool.

Seven hours later, I come home with dead devices – I didn’t bring a charger – but with my inner-teacher recharged…ready to start my own blog, another for my teachers, and yet another for my students. I set up a twitter account, and although I have not yet tweeted, I certainly found many fabulous accounts to follow. I vow to continue the blogs and twitter throughout the school year so I do not fall into the tech time warp once again. I even purchase a keyboard for my iPad on sale because I learned one more thing: When you are late to the tech-table, most programs have the glitches worked out and the hardware is usually cheaper!

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