Encienda at EduCon

If this were a normal Friday on the weekend before the Super Bowl in any of the past 12 years, I would be driving I-95 (or taking Amtrak) to Philadelphia. To spend the next two or so days at a unique high school in center city, along with five hundred or so dedicated educators, students, and parents, all of whom were there for some serious (and some not-so-serious) discussions about the practice of teaching and learning.

This year, however, I will not be at EduCon. And I will miss it greatly.1EduCon is not your normal education conference. It’s held at a small public school in center city, the Science Leadership Academy, . The sessions are structured as conversations, not lecture/demo. There’s no vendor floor. And students from SLA are an integral part of planning and running the event (along with many dedicated staff and parents).

For me, this time is more meetup than conference. It’s where I’ve been able to interact face-to-face with friends and colleagues, some of whom I’ve known, read, and followed for many years. Every year I also meet new people who freely share their knowledge, experience, and ideas. Most importantly, these are people who challenge me to be a better educator and person.

Over the years, EduCon has turned into a community, the core of which actually predates the first edition of the event, and I’m fortunate to have been a part of it almost from the beginning. It is the one professional activity I committed to continue after I left my formal job. I never fail to leave Philly after this weekend energized, with plenty to think about, and a long list of articles, books, blogs, and podcasts to explore.

But this year I will have to watch the feeds from afar whenever possible (or catch the recordings). It certainly won’t be the same. Trying to follow what’s going on in the room through a single camera, and not having the opportunity to ask questions, add my comments, and enjoy the company of some very smart, wonderful people, will be frustrating at best.

Anyway, if you are going to be at Science Leadership Academy this weekend, please let the rest of us know what you see, hear, and learn. I’ll take all the EduCon crumbs I can get.

The picture (iPhone 4? Really?), from 2012, is from the traditional Saturday lunch-time Encienda (Ignite format) talks. I think this was Jen’s first EduCon and first talk. She’s been there every year since. I have a gallery of EduCon images from over the years (plus a few from the EduBloggerCon that sparked the idea) for anyone interested.

1. I’m not sick, and neither is anyone close to me. No catastrophes. Just lots of those insistent little circumstances that sometimes pile up and obstruct what you really want to do. With a little luck, I will be back to fighting the cold (and enjoying the vibrance) of Philly streets next January.