EdcampSWCT, Music, and Ego

by mrsapia

Collective Energy

Collective Energy

Yesterday was the inaugural EdCampSWCT.  I was very fortunate to organize this event with a tremendous group of educators.  Those educators were Rob Pennington, Amy Traggianese, Sharon Plante, Joel Pardalis, Sean Hutchinson Frank Rodriguez, and me.  Sharon wrote a great reflection of the day here.

I have a passion for music.  It drives me.  It is my muse.  Depending on any given situation, I can find a song to accompany the respective mood.  Leaving Brian McMahon High School yesterday filled with jubilation, I decide to listen to Phish.  They are my favorite band and one I’ve seen 80 times.  Love them or hate them, you can’t argue with their level of musicianship and talent.  I listened to a show I attended in Raleigh, NC from 12-16-99.  This show features a standout version of their classic tune “Tweezer.” This version is all about collective energy, raw emotion, and most importantly,  listening.  As I reached the 10 minute mark the band slowed down the jam and began a collective peak that would climax around the 19 minute mark.  During this time, it was all about listening to each other intently.  Everyone in the band was working together to construct a monumental wall of sound.  This got me thinking about how it relates perfectly to the EdCamp model of collaboration and ego.

Have we all been guilty of having an ego from time to time? Let’s be honest, the answer is most likely yes.  Ego is a blocker.  Ego stands in the way of greatness.  Ego can stand in the way of growth.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to celebrate your achievement, goals, and accomplishments.  In fact, I encourage that. For those of you who know me, know I am a confident person.  If you set a goal and reach it or get acknowledged for outstanding work, by all means, celebrate that.  The chances are good you deserved that recognition.  But the second ego enters the picture, it can skew your mindset and block potential opportunities for growth.

After experiencing all that is right with education through the Edcamp movement on numerous occasions, it feels like an ego-less energy.  Educators come to Edcamps, usually on weekends and drive numerous hours, just to be a part of something bigger than them and their classroom.  It’s inspiring to watch interactions happen during a session, in the hallway, or just sitting around prior to the event beginning. Educators are “volunteering” their time to learn new ideas, challenge and push themselves, listen to others, lead sessions, ask questions and connect with people they have met via Twitter, or form new friendships, all in the name of our greatest stakeholders, our students!

The spirit of Edcamp is about collaboration and growth, not a showcase of one teacher’s talents on display. It’s never about one person!  It’s about the exchange of ideas and everyone’s voices being heard that acts as a collective force to be reckoned with.  After all, if we surround ourselves with people who are better than us, don’t we want to strive for even greater excellence? We work better as teams and being open to new ideas.  This is how I feel when I attend these Edcamp professional developments.

The communal nature of these events reminds me of attending a Phish show.  It’s the interaction between band and audience that can make for an epic evening.  It’s the ideal of taking risks and not knowing what is going to happen.  Sometimes a glorious blissful moment can occur, or you can fall flat on your face.  The blissful moments can and will happen at Edcamp and so will “failures.”  So what.  We learn, we grow, we collaborate, and celebrate our mission to better ourselves by getting out of our comfort zones and letting go of “ego.”

I try to bring this ideology with me into my classroom everyday.  I have a plan for the day, but I will leave that plan if the teachable moment occurs.  I let go of my “ego” and what I had planned, to seize the moment of greatness that has the potential to inspire a group of students.  Remember to always allow for student voice.  Listen to your students.  It’s not about you.  It’s about them.  They will provide you with feedback that is honest.  Be prepared for that.  I may hurt your “ego,” but hopefully it will be an opportunity for growth.

I am a passionate teacher in Stamford, CT.  I teach fifth grade ELA/Social Studies.  I am proud to be an active member of the Twitter educational community.  I am an organizer for #EdCampSWCT and a believer in a high tech/high touch blended learning approach to teaching.  I am a certified administrator.  I believe in taking risks and working collaboratively to augment student achievement.  I love children’s literature and strive to become better everyday.  I am a husband and father.  Follow me on Twitter @mrsapia_teach