I have just returned from Las Vegas. Most people go there for the lights, the shows and the gambling. I went there to connect with #kinderchat, a group of incredible Early Childhood Educators. I am not saying that I did not enjoy all that the big city had to offer but my highlight was meeting people who I had been connecting with on-line since I joined twitter.
Ten of us made the trek to the desert to meet, although I know that many others wanted to join us and were unable to do so face to face so we skyped some in and even facetimed a few. Before I arrived at #edcampkinder I had met one person who would be attending and I had only met her twice before we boarded the plane together.
Fellow PLAY lovers @Matt_Gomez @happycampergirl @tashacowdy @mauimickey @Mr_Fines @hechternacht @Havalah @learningmurd @LirenmanLearns and myself, @garrioch had travelled from all over to meet, there was representation from Japan, Canada and the United States. When I first saw these people face to face it was like I already knew them. We greeted one another with hugs and immediately it felt like I was with a group of old friends.
We discussed projects that had taken place throughout the year, educational issues and things that would be beneficial to explore for the upcoming school year. But most importantly we deepened our relationships with one another. We learned from all the people there, we learned about them. We truly listened to one another, questioned each other and provided a safe environment for discussion. The group dynamic was incredible during our large group discussions we remained as a whole and collaborated, there were no side discussions, everyone wanted to hear what each person was saying.
Although we had scheduled times to meet, we spent most of our time in Vegas together. We did pro-d during meals, walking the strip, in lounge chairs and even in the pool. It was incredible to spend time with people who are so passionate about education. I don’t think that words can ever describe how beneficial this trip was to me. These people have helped me through a grade transition, encouraged me, guided me and have made me feel that I am not alone. Online relations are important and real. Matt Gomez shared a saying earlier today “we’re addicted to our friends, not our computers ~ Danah Boyd”. I am proud to be addicted to these people who I am lucky enough to call friends. I am proud to say my classroom and my practices as an educator are influenced by them. And most of all I am so thankful that I had the chance to meet them face to face and strengthen our relationships, because that is key in life ~ relationships.
I know in the future I will be attempting to go to every #edcampkinder that takes place. I also know that my friend and principal @ChrisWejr will do all in his power to help me get there. Thanks for the push Chris, it is always appreciated.